Hawkeye Changes a Major Part of Kate Bishop's Comic Book Backstory

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the first two episodes of Hawkeye, now streaming on Disney+.

After two episodes, it's clear that Marvel Studios' Hawkeye has a breakout character on its hands with Kate Bishop. It wasn't just hype when Kevin Feige called actress Hailee Steinfeld a "dream version" of the character. Steinfeld captures everything that makes Kate such a charming character in the comics. While her performance is comics accurate, not everything about the Marvel Cinematic Universe version is. Her backstory has a serious change from the Hawkeye comics, hinting that a key relationship might be inverted.

Hawkeye's opening scene serves as an origin story for Kate. She's inspired to follow in Clint Barton's footsteps as an archer after he saves her life from invading Chiaturi during the Battle of New York. Kate and her mother Eleanor escape to safety thanks to Barton, but her father isn't so lucky.

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While it isn't shown on screen, Derek Bishop's death appears to happen in the early moments of the invasion. Kate asks Eleanor where her father is, but Eleanor's too busy escaping from their crumbling penthouse to answer. A funeral is held for the Bishop family patriarch, and the story picks up with a college-aged Kate inadvertently destroying a bell tower named after Iron Man villain Obadiah Stane.

The absence of Kate's father permeates her life as much Black Widow's does Clint. It has a clear effect on her relationship with her mother and her potential stepfather, Jack Duquesne. As a child, Kate vowed to protect her mother. Her suspicion of the shady Jack is an example of her living up to that vow as a young adult.

Eleanor's role in the Hawkeye TV series mirrors Derek's in the source material. In the comics, Derek raises Kate as a single parent after Eleanor's apparent death. His relationship with Kate and her sister Susan was strained by Derek's work habits and his marriage to a younger woman. That was trivial compared to the betrayal Kate felt when she learned about his criminal activities. During her first trip to Los Angeles, in Hawkeye stories written by Matt Fraction and drawn by Annie Wu, Kate learned that her father was working with her arch-enemy, Madame Masque.

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After finding his name in a file of Masque's clients, Kate called her father to let him know she was coming after him. After Kate and Barton defeated the Tracksuit Mafia in the final issue of Fraction and David Aja's Hawkeye #22, Derek was seen with a group of supervillains that included Masque and the Kingpin. The group unanimously voted to kill both Hawkeyes for interfering in their business. Derek hesitated but ultimately chose to side with his partners in crime over his daughter.

Eleanor and Derek switching roles in the Disney+ series suggests two things. Eleanor might be more aware of whatever her fiancé is up to than she seems. They might be partners in whatever schemes he's involved in, including the death of his uncle, Armand III. Eleanor's prominence in the story might also introduce a modern version of Madame Masque to oppose Kate, given that she has a working relationship with the villainess in the comics.

That relationship came as a major shock to Kate. After years of believing that her mother was dead, Kate learned that her mother was a half-vampire in West Coast Avengers #5, by Kelly Thompson and Daniele Di Nicuolo. Eleanor was working with Masque in exchange for a cure for her vampirism but helped Kate and her teammates multiple times. That made her more sympathetic than Derek, but her association with Masque made it difficult for Kate to trust her.

RELATED: Hawkeye Is More About Kate Bishop Than Clint Barton - as It Should Be

Unless his involvement introduces Blade, it's unlikely that Derek will be a vampire. His role reversal with Eleanor could mean that he might still be alive. Given that his corpse was never shown on screen, it's possible Derek faked his death during the Battle of New York. It may have had something to do with the financial troubles the Bishops were suffering from at the beginning of Hawkeye's first episode. They were significant enough that Eleanor insisted on selling their penthouse.

No matter how it happens, a reunion between Kate and her father is likely to be bittersweet. Beyond any supervillains he might be working with, he did abandon her for most of her life. While some details have changed, Hawkeye has replicated what makes Kate Bishop such a compelling character in the MCU. Family drama is as much a part of that as her archery skills and quick wit.

The first two episodes of Hawkeye are out now. New episodes air Wednesdays on Disney+.

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Robert Curran (437 Articles Published)

Robert Curran lives in Deep South Texas. He is a life long fan of comic books, video games, and pro wrestling. He spent five years in the trenches of his local comic book shop. His work has appeared in WWE Magazine (when WWE had a magazine), Comics Should Be Good, and Inside Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @RBCURRAN.

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