When it was announced this week that Disney+ was working on a Hawkeye series featuring Jeremy Renner, to many fans it came as no surprise that the name which started trending on social wasn’t “Clint Barton” but “Kate Bishop”…
In 2012, Marvel Comics launched Hawkeye, written by Matt Fraction and drawn by David Aja. The new title was conveniently timed alongside the release of The Avengers in cinemas, but presented a very different version of the avenging archer: That of Barton when he was off the Avengers clock, hunkered down in a crappy loft apartment in Brooklyn attempting to not get killed at any moment. He was teamed up with the other Hawkeye: His protege, the charmingly snarky and often infinitely more competent Ms. Bishop. The run was action-packed, frequently pants-wettingly hilarious, and so lauded and influential it even merited a write-up in Entertainment Weekly upon its conclusion. (Look, for all that comics influence TV and movies nowadays, it’s still really rare for a single comics run to get that kind of attention.)
At its source, it presented Clint Barton as the kind of cheer-able screw-up that he’d often been in other Marvel runs, only times 1000. Fraction put it very well when he turned up on Late Night to discuss it with comics fan Seth Meyers:
Putting all of this into context, then, it’s no surprise that Hawkeye fans have been longing for a reset for the character for years now; before Netflix’s Marvel shows fell victim to corporate tug-of-war, there was plenty of wishing and hoping that the Fraction/Aja arc would make a great TV-MA show there. (Hey, maybe Hawkeye could even bump into Daredevil if they both fell off a roof into the same dumpster!) That ship sailed, however, and now we’re presented with the family-friendly Disney+ giving us a show that likely won’t be that Hawkeye, but will almost certainly incorporate elements of it, given the synopsis revealed so far and how important Fraction’s book is to the character’s recent history. (Not unlike how his wife, Kelly Sue DeConnick’s landmark Captain Marvel run influenced that film.) Today’s Friday Five contains some friendly suggestions for this mix, and a whole lot of “Team Hawkguy” love…
Well, yes, this isn’t so much a suggestion given that we know Kate Bishop is going to be a part of this Disney+ series. What’s important, particular to her fans, is to what extent?; the trades announced the show with the premise that it will feature Barton passing the Hawkeye mantle for good onto his protege. Meanwhile, io9 described the show as “Kate Bishop centered,” which implies that perhaps this limited series arc will be her story as much, or even more so, than Barton’s. We’re here to advocate for the notion that, you’re darn right, it should be; Kate has been a captivating character for long before the Fraction run. Around the same time, she was a key component in the spark of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s Young Avengers run, and owned the section of Fraction’s run where Kate ran off to LA to be a P.I. (now drawn by Annie Wu who gave her a cavalcade of amazing faces!) Her cheerful determination to get into “good trouble” has continued on through Kelly Thompson’s outstanding Hawkeye book in which she was the star, plus her subsequent West Coast Avengers title.
She’s absolutely devastating with that bow, has as many tricks up her sleeve as Clint if not more, and is better than no one at reminding her mentor that if you’re going to put yourself through the proverbial meat grinder, it better be for the right reasons. She’s at least a co-lead, Disney+. Do right by this hand-off, and cast her well!
And now please enjoy more Kate greatness…
Awesome MCU Cameos
Obviously, one of the biggest complaints to date for various Marvel television series has been how they dance around the MCU, but rarely if ever explicitly connect with the films. (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter have come closest, being based as they are on characters who were introduced in the MCU, but it’s still been tenuous at best.) As the Disney+ shows will be produced by Marvel Studios, i.e. Kevin Feige’s theatrical wing, the presumption is that this disconnect goes out the window here; obviously, working around actors’ other commitments is always going to be a challenge. Still, we’re all hoping that Scarlett Johansson shows up for at least one episode of this Hawkeye show, right?! To put a finer point on it, one of the funniest Fraction issues included a Sixties-stylized peanut gallery of the women in Clint’s life offering, shall we say, an affectionate passing of judgment on his constant screw-ups. They included Black Widow (aka “The Work-Wife”), but also Mockingbird who in the comics used to be married to Clint. In a bit of reverse cross-over fun, wouldn’t it be great if we could get Adrienne Palicki to cameo as Bobbi Morse here, and surprise the hell out of the non-comics readers who had no idea about that connection?! (In the comic there’s also Clint’s former “friend-girl” Jessica Drew aka Spider-Woman, but since she hasn’t been introduced on screen yet her appearance here is unlikely. She deserves her own show, anyway! Or maybe a future Avengers slot!)
Great Supporting Players (like “Grills”)
Rock star lead players and awesome fan-favorite support are both great, but a truly memorable comic can soar on the backs of characters who populate the periphery. Those supporting players who might only ever exist within this one narrative, but who remind you that you’re reading a classic. The same rule of thumb extends to guest stars on television (heck, there are even Emmy categories for that!), so we’re really hoping that the Hawkeye series delivers with new faces; Fraction’s comic definitely soared in this regard, with thoroughly entertaining already-in-canon appearances by everyone from Clint’s older brother Barney (in a very heart-wrenching family drama side plot) to the nefarious villainess Madame Masque. It’s the everyday Joes in this Hawkeye who really stand out, though; we certainly wouldn’t mind if the showrunners wanted to do a straight lift of “Grills,” Clint’s schlubby neighbor who runs the grill during the building’s community barbecues and who cheerfully insists on calling him “Hawkguy,” every damn time. Things don’t always go well for these supporting players, but the angst around their safety and happiness is part of what drives a great storyline.
Technically, this entry on our list could have been folded into the previous one: Colorful supporting characters new to the series that become fan-favorites. In all honesty, though, one of the things we most want to see out of a Barton & Bishop team-up series that borrows from the comics is an appearance by the Russian mobsters that Clint amusingly dubs the “Tracksuit Draculas”: A bunch of brutish thugs in matching tracksuits whose broken English is constantly punctuated with the word “BRO.” (See above for a prime example. See also the multiple times they went running for cover screaming “BROBROBROBROBROBRO!” as arrows zoomed past their heads.) As menacing as they are riotously funny, these dirtbags are among the least Disney+ friendly aspects of this seminal Hawkeye run, and yet we can’t stop hoping that they’ll turn up in some fashion. Maybe not as integral to the overall arc as they were last time – the Track-Dracs ended up facing off alongside the creepy assassin The Clown to try to drive Clint out and take over the building, only to have Kate return from Los Angeles and slam the brakes on their entire shenanigans – but we’re just saying, we’d happily pay money to see this moment come to life:
Lucky (aka Pizza Dog) (aka A VERY GOOD BOY)
And finally, another new supporting player who really deserves to be a part of this upcoming show – in fact, we’d argue that the show probably can’t reach its full potential without a precious pooch named Lucky. He was once called Arrow, and he belonged to the Tracksuit Draculas; Clint, strolling by with a piece of pizza, was kind to the dog and shared his slice, so when one of the Tracksuits decided to take a shot at him – well, doggo was having none of that. The scumbags outnumbered him, though, and decided to throw the poor pup into traffic – long story short, with Clint rushing him to a vet shouting “FIX. THIS. DOG.”, Arrow survived (though he lost one eye) and he moved in with Clint, re-named “Lucky”, the dog who loves pizza. (And whatever else he can get his chops on.) Through the course of Fraction’s run, Lucky not only became a solid part of Hawkeye canon but got to star in his own issue; Hawkeye #11 aka “Pizza Is My Business,” a brilliant take told completely from Lucky’s canine point of view in which he solves a murder, REPEAT THE DOG SOLVES A MURDER, won the Eisner Award for Best Single Issue in 2014. He’s since become a loyal companion to Kate on her L.A. investigating adventures, and appeared in numerous other books; to say that Lucky’s time has come, just after Goose the Cat (ahem) stole the show in Captain Marvel, is an understatement. Put him in the show, Disney+! (And if you want a shot at your first Emmy, adapt “Pizza Is My Business” outright.)
WHO IS A GOOD, GOOD BOY?