Hawkeye Is Kate Bishop's Series, Not Clint Barton's

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

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has engaged in a slow-motion passing of the torch ever since the events of Avengers: Endgame. Two Avengers were killed and a third retired, leaving figures such as Sam Wilson and Peter Parker to take up the mantles they left behind. Parker’s relationship with Tony Stark formed a key part of Endgame’s emotional drama, as well as a drive for Spider-Man: Far From Home. The MCU has been peppered with stories of younger generations stepping up, from Stark himself grappling with his father Howard's legacy to Hope Van Dyne and her missing mother. As the saga continues into its second decade, such storylines will be increasingly necessary to keep the saga going.

Hawkeye seems well aware of that fact and has responded accordingly. The first two episodes of the series focus less on Clint Barton and more on Kate Bishop, who appropriates her elder’s mantle and instigates the season’s main arc. Indeed, Season 1, Episode 1, “Never Meet Your Heroes” focuses almost entirely on Bishop, with Barton and his family left almost as background until the very end. Depending on where Hawkeye goes, that trend may not let up.

RELATED: Hawkeye Director Teases 'Something Big' Happening in the Season 1 Finale

Hawkeye’s overall themes of master and apprentice were easy to spot from the first trailer, as Bishop earnestly follows her hero’s example and ends up becoming his partner in the process. That extends to the directions both characters are drawn towards, as well as the status of the original wave of MCU heroes to whom Barton belongs. It also involves the ties that bind them together, which have links both to Barton’s past and Bishop’s future.

Indeed, everything about Barton on the show is rooted in the past. He’s haunted by memories of his lost friend Natasha, for example, and opens Hawkeye in happy retirement with his family, who had been lost to the Blip. He’s found his peace and is only pulled into the events of the series because Kate appropriates the Ronin suit, another artifact of his past that he’s attempting to put behind him.

RELATED: Hawkeye Formally Introduces a New MCU Hero - and Teases a Major Villain

Bishop, on the other hand, has spent her whole life practicing. She has a case full of archery and martial arts trophies, plus a presumed inheritance that gives her a base of support. She’s essentially waiting for her life to begin and has been ever since her father's death. The Tracksuit Mafia and their entanglement with her family constitute the start of a journey that Barton is coming to the end of.

The combination gives Hawkeye a nice comedic snap, with Bishop playing eager beaver rookie and Barton just wanting to go home to his family. The show happily plays up the older hero’s post-Avengers mundanity, such as a moment in Season 1, Episode 2, “Hide and Seek” that finds him buying Neosporin and rubbing alcohol to help Bishop clean her wounds. More importantly, it highlights a slow but very measurable shift in Phase Four, as older heroes step down and new ones rise to take their place. Hawkeye’s focus on Kate makes the franchise’s intentions crystal clear.

The original Avengers are slowly stepping down, with Nat and Tony gone and Steve Rogers permanently standing down. Barton too feels as if he’s moving towards a graceful exit, leaving Bishop to carry on in his place. He’s likely been active for longer than any of them, with a career at SHIELD that almost certainly predates the first appearance of Iron Man. Not only does it make for strong storytelling, but it enables the MCU to overcome its burgeoning generation problem. With characters like Kate and Sam Wilson to carry on the original heroes' mantles, the franchise can set itself up for ongoing storytelling as long as it can find good stories to tell.

To meet Clint Barton's successor, the first two episodes of Hawkeye are available to stream on Disney+.

KEEP READING: Hawkeye Reveals Clint Barton's True 'Superpower'

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Robert Vaux (463 Articles Published)

A native Californian, Rob Vaux has been a critic and entertainment writer for over 20 years, including work for Collider, Mania.com, the Sci-Fi Movie Page, and Rotten Tomatoes. He lives in the Los Angeles area, roots for the Angels, and is old enough to remember when Splinter of the Mind's Eye was a big deal.

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