Marvel is getting us into the holiday spirit with new series Hawkeye (first two episodes streaming on Disney+ on Nov. 24, with weekly episodes to follow), finally giving the bow-wielding Avenger, played by Jeremy Renner, his own show alongside the breakout star of the series, Hailee Steinfeld as Kate Bishop.
“This show is so fun and so full of adventure, it's light-hearted, it's humorous, but there is a lot of depth and I think a lot of that comes from the fact that it is based during a time that is so wonderful and happy, but also conflicting and sometimes sad,” Steinfeld explained to Yahoo Canada.
“The holiday time is the best, and sometimes not the best time, but I do think that, that is why our story is set in such a relatable world.”
Hawkeye director Rhys Thomas called it a “gift” to be able to set this story during the holidays, which he describes as a “heightened time of year” for everyone.
For executive producer Trinh Tran, what makes the character of Hawkeye a good candidate for a series of his own, aside from the fact that we haven’t been able to go deep into his story before, goes back to the idea of relatability.
“I think he's one of the few characters who has a family and who is a hero in the MCU [Marvel Cinematic Universe], but doesn't have superpowers,” she explained.
“There's a relatability for me and you and everybody who's watching,...you don't have to have super powers in order to be a hero, and I think that is what's represented in Clint Barton.”
The story behind the Avengers musical in Marvel's 'Hawkeye' series
The six-episode series is set in the six days leading to Christmas. When we see Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, the story seems like a quintessential holiday narrative, Clint is in New York City with his kids after getting an invitation to watch Rogers The Musical, a Broadway show that features impersonations of all the Avengers, including Hawkeye.
“We were sort of trying to figure out what is Clint doing at the beginning of the story, how do we meet him and what would be a surprising way to meet him,” Thomas explained to Yahoo Canada.
“What's Clint’s worst nightmare? It would probably be watching a musical version of himself on stage, this little live, sweaty man tap dancing his way across the stage dressed as him felt funny. It was a silly idea I pitched and then suddenly Kevin [Feige] took hold of it and really got into it, and I tried backtracking because I suddenly realized what it was going to take to make it.”
In true Marvel fashion, something that could initially seem relatively trivial was was executed by the pros. At a press conference ahead of the series premiere, Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios and chief creative officer of Marvel, said he loved the idea of the musical and he personally had met famed composer Marc Shaiman (Hairspray) at an event, who ended up creating a song for this specific moment in the Hawkeye series.
When Clint is supposed to be heading home to wife Laura (Linda Cardellini) with his kids, he’s confronted by a threat from his past as Ronin. That’s where his world collides with 22-year-old Kate, teaming up with the young champion archer, but Clint still has one goal in mind - to make it home for Christmas.
Witty, sarcastic Kate Bishop
While Hawkeye is the titular character, it’s Steinfeld’s portrayal of Kate that gets you hooked on the series in the first two episodes, particularly with her sarcasm and wit, getting on Clint’s nerves once in a while as well.
“I love that she has...that witty sarcasm and this level of confidence that really cannot be shaken,” Steinfeld said. “I think there's something so inspiring about her ambition.”
Executive producer Tran explained the dynamic between Kate and Clint, the bickering, the banter, the arguments and the jokes, is something that Marvel Studios really wanted to pull from the comics.
“That's what I remember when I was reading those comics is that I couldn't put it down because it was just non-stop hilarious, fun conversations that they would have,” she explained. “So we wanted to make sure that we would pull that and use that as inspiration for the story, in whatever setting that we would put them in.”
“We were so fortunate that when Jeremy and Hailee got together on set, that it was very much like that, even in real life.”
In terms of Steinfeld and Renner coming together for this dynamic duo, Steinfeld explained that her co-star, who has been with the character of Hawkeye for years, was able to provide guidance, support and mentorship throughout the process of creating this new series.
“When you think of the character dynamic, you have me, Hailee, who much like Kate is very overly excited about things like joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I got to go into this world with Hawkeye, who Kate wants to go toe-to-toe with,” Steinfeld said. “I think we shared a lot of that same energy.”
'You discover who you are through your mom and you discover what you don't want to be'
Another interesting dynamic to watch is the relationship between Kate and her mother Eleanor Bishop, played by Vera Farmiga, that we get to see when Kate returns from college to her mother’s swanky New York home and is surprised by her mom’s seemingly suspicious fiancé, Jack Duquesne (Tony Dalton).
There’s one line that Eleanor says to her daughter that is not only entertaining writing but epitomizes Kate’s instinct, and perfectly describes the tension in this mother-daughter relationship.
“I know that young people think they’re invincible and rich people think they’re invincible, and you have always been both, so take it from someone who hasn’t. You’re not. You will get hurt, so please don’t go out looking for it,” Eleanor says to Kate in the series.
“Working with Vera on finding this mother-daughter relationship was really a joy,” Steinfeld revealed. “It's such a delicate relationship.”
“Kate is at a time in her life where she's coming into her own and she loves her mother, wants nothing but to protect her mother, but she sees parts of her that she wants to be like, and parts of her that she doesn't… You discover who you are through your mom and you discover what you don't want to be.”
At a press conference for the show, Farmiga said “we learn about who we are based on our relationship with our mummies.”
“Having a daughter who is [very powerful], has a lot of prowess, but also a lot of recklessness, all mothers try to help their daughters channel that power into something more effective,” she explained. “Certainly that's the big lesson for us,...bridling beautiful energy is a mother's task.”
We’ll certainly see how the Hawkeye series continues throughout the six-episode series as we get closer to the finale on Dec. 22, but if the first two episodes are any indication, this is certainly a holiday story you've never seen before.