Trauma, Privilege and Costumes: How Marvel Picked the Big Cornerstones of Hawkeye

Trauma, Privilege and Costumes: How Marvel Picked the Big Cornerstones of Hawkeye
He might be smiling but Clint Barton is messed up. (Image: Marvel Studios)

There’s so much about Hawkeye the trailers aren’t telling you. The trailers have been all about Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) and Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) travelling around New York at Christmas time, firing arrows, and getting into general mayhem. Oh, and did they mention it was Christmas time? Obviously, though, that’s not all the show is — and in the first two episodes, out tomorrow, you’ll instantly see the choices and emotions Marvel chose to key on for the rest of the show. Choices deep seeded not just in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the comics as well. Choices we wanted to discuss with with executive producer Trinh Tran.

[Note: We won’t spoil any big plot stuff from the two episodes here but, if you want to go in 100% unspoiled, best to proceed with caution.]

One of the things you may be wondering is, how does a privileged college girl from Manhattan get mixed up with a grizzled old Avenger? Well, there’s one big connection that’s a spoiler and we will explore more Friday. There’s also a costume. Specifically, Clint’s Ronin costume that he wore during the five years his family was gone thanks to Thanos. A costume he travelled the world in killing many, many people. Avengers: Endgame only hinted at what that experience did to Clint but in Hawkeye, the costume is back, and it’s the beginning of everything.

“There’s one scene in Endgame that really explored Ronin, and there’s a lot more history to the five years that hasn’t been told,” Tran told Gizmodo via video call. “And we felt that it was pivotal in terms of wanting to explore a little bit more of that, given that it’s Clint Barton. I mean, there’s so many stories that are untold for him other than what has been shown in the last decade as an Avenger in all of the Avengers movies. But what was life like? And so we wanted to explore that and pull a little bit of the past coming back to haunt him.”

Clint’s past might as well be a character on Hawkeye, because not only will he have to deal with the consequences of what he did as Ronin, he’s recently lost his best friend Natasha Romanoff, not to mention Tony Stark and Steve Rogers. He’s suffered a lot and Hawkeye will be exploring that.

Kate Bishop knows a thing or two about nice homes. (Image: Marvel Studios) Kate Bishop knows a thing or two about nice homes. (Image: Marvel Studios)

“Those moments are still in his mind, and we wanted to explore how he was going to be dealing with that,” Tran said. “So, you know, without spoiling anything, it is his mental state that we’re exploring throughout the story, how Kate can come in to help with that and how she can allow for his guard to be down to let somebody in. Especially after what he’s gone through losing his best friend like Nat. So I think there’s personal, intimate stakes that are very human relatable here that we love exploring in this particular series with these characters.”

Which is to say, basically, we’ve had years to get to know a bit about Clint Barton. But we haven’t met Kate Bishop at all. Fans of the comics know that the character is quite unlike Barton in that she’s a very privileged woman. She grew up with all the money in the world, all the training someone could ever want, and living in several very swank Manhattan apartments. That makes her, at least on the surface, much more like Tony Stark than Clint Barton, and Tran admitted it was a challenge to keep this young, rich white woman’s backstory from the comics intact just because it’s so unrelatable to most people.

“We wanted to keep that backstory, but we also wanted to be careful about how she’s going to be presented on screen because that can come off in definitely the wrong way,” Tran said. “But I think with that backstory and with where the story unfolds throughout the rest of the series, she learns from it. Some of the journey that they go through together will teach her certain things about her background that really pushes her forward as a hero that she wants to become.”

We’ll have more from Tran on how exactly Kate becomes that hero differently from the comics Friday, after you’ve seen it for yourself in the first episode of Hawkeye.