Back in April of 2019 Disney and Marvel announced their plans to extend the Marvel Cinematic Universe to television with the new streaming service, Disney+ it is fair to say there were some skeptics. Months later when the trailer for WandaVision was released and did not deliver the high action series we expected, but rather something completely new – an homage to classic TV sitcoms – fans and naysayers alike were left scratching their heads. Marvel had an amazing track record to this point, but this just looked bizarre.
One season, 23 Emmys nominations (3 wins) and millions of fans later, it was obvious that these Disney+ series were not just throwaway efforts, but integral, character-driven extensions of the MCU. Fast-forward to now where we have two more successful Marvel-based live action series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Loki under their belts even the biggest doubters have learned to trust the creative instincts of Disney, Marvel and producer Kevin Feige.
So, when a new Hawkeye series was announced fans did not know what to expect. I can safely say no one expected what they delivered; a holiday adventure that looked like something closer to Home Alone than Civil War. Marvel was taking a bold shot and based on the early reactions, including mine, their efforts seemed to have hit the bullseye.
The series brings back fan favorite, Hawkeye, played by Jeremy Renner and adds a new hero to the mix, Kate Bishop (played to perfection by Hailee Steinfeld) who team up to stop a heist during the Christmas season in New York City. Like the series that preceded it, Hawkeye has a style all its own. It is a more grounded series with plenty of witty banter, action and holiday cheer.
During a recent press conference for the series, Producer and Marvel mastermind,Kevin Feige, spoke about why it was the right time for a Hawkeye series.
KEVIN FEIGE: The character’s history is vast. And also, the Matt Fraction comics were a big tonal inspiration for us. And seeing that and this new dynamic. There are moments within all of Jeremy’s appearances where you see this mentor under the surface.
This reluctant hero. This reluctant mentor under the surface. One of my favorite scenes in all of our films is the scene with Clint and Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) in Sokovia when he basically says, ‘you go out that door, you’re an Avenger’ and motivates her to join the fight. That was the kernel of how we could connect our MCU incarnation of Clint Barton into the Matt Fraction storyline and the relationship with Kate Bishop.
Series director, Rhys Thomas was asked why the long-form series format works so well for storytelling.
RHYS THOMAS: It’s time. Beginning to spend time with these characters and let them grow. We’re introducing this character and it’s about these guys coming together and learning from one another. It’s a world that you get to live in for a little longer. I think you fall in love with these characters when you make these things, and you fall in love with all the possibilities of the ways you can annoy Clint and smash ’em together and have the runway to do that is you’re always gonna take it.
The last time we saw Hawkeye in action was in End Game where he tried his best but was not able to prevent a major Avenger from sacrificing herself for the good of all. It was a devastating moment and had everyone wondering how the character dealt with survivor’s guilt.
JEREMY RENNER: I don’t suppose it was survivor guilt outside just dealing with the loss. There’s a lotta things that are lost. That’s addressed in the show, which I think is, beautifully intimate. It brings our characters closer together as well as the audience. There’s a lotta weight that’s carried. There might be a seemingly veneer of grumpiness in this resting face in the show.
But it ultimately comes from just the weight and the horrors and the tragedies and loss that come with the game. It’s managing losses, is the superhero game, and the lightness and brightness that Hailee’s character brings in kinda counteracts that and comes in and kinda gets it to level out some. So, it’s pretty cathartic and quite beautiful.
The chemistry between Hailee and Jeremy is undeniable, and had many wondering, how did she get the part?
KEVIN FREIGE: Hailee did not audition. We were very, very lucky that Hailee was open to this because we very much believed that she was sort of the prototype for the character, and as occasionally happens, you know, the dream version of the character, agrees to do it. So, from the moment there were some early meetings and discussions we were very thankful that she wanted to jump into this role because we had a feeling that she would be great, and she is.
Feige’s instincts casting Hailee seemed to be right on point. Steinfeld took the role very seriously.
HAILEE STEINFELD: I really do feel playing this character sort of forced me to find a confidence and a determination and discipline that’s always been inside of me, but I really had to bring it out of myself for this to do this character justice. I feel so lucky to be playing a character (Kate Bishop) that is so loved by so many and that people have been waiting for some time to see brought to life.
Awards Radar was able to ask her about the millions of fans she has inspired who will certainly make the Kate Bishop costume one of the best-selling this upcoming Halloween.
HAILEE STEINFELD: Wow. I don’t know about that. I did notice though, this year a lot of Kate Bishop costumes which was the most surreal thing, right? This show isn’t even out. Of course there are the comics, and like I mentioned before, this is a character that people have loved for a very long time, so it makes sense. But, to have that sort of come into my world, to be at all a part of that, is incredibly surreal.
What has Feige and the team at Marvel learned from the multiverse phase that is now a year old?
KEVIN FEIGE: It’s the end of year one of the projects finally coming out and people being able to see them. But it’s about year three or four for us as we’ve been developing them. I think we learn on everything what is the reception to each of them is what has been most gratifying. Because we always-we wanted them to be different here. We’re sitting talking about a fun grounded action Christmas series. Loki is this very otherworldly thing. Falcon and Winter Soldier, geopolitical. And WandaVision, ode to sitcoms and grief.
And it feels like the audience has responded the way we wanted them to. That it doesn’t seem like an overabundance of this. I have always said, nobody will get bored before we at Marvel Studios will of these projects. And going 20 plus years, I’m not anywhere near bored yet. Because we’re allowed to do so within the sub-genre so many different types of things.
With amazing casts like this. And I really can’t stress. Some people have seen the first two episodes. But I’m very excited for them to see the rest.
But why exactly did they choose the Christmas setting?
KEVIN FEIGE: I’ve always loved films or shows or specials that take place over the holiday season. I think there’s a heightened amount of emotion and a heightened amount of conflict and tension [LAUGH] that can occur in this glorious season. We have always been looking for opportunities. We’ve already announced a Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, which has literally been in the works for four years. This show has come up and now come out in that time.
I thought the Guardians one would be our first. Obviously, they’re very different. But I just love this time of year for the-for the storytelling possibilities.
You can now experience that storytelling for yourself. Hawkeye premieres on Disney+ today just in time for the holiday. Check out the premiere episode now and in the meantime if you have not seen it, enjoy the playful trailer here.