Hawkeye Was Originally Supposed to Be an MCU Movie

The new Hawkeye TV series has its roots in a feature film that never happened.

Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye
Photo: Marvel

When you look at the original Marvel Cinematic Universe roster of the Avengers, five of the six team members have had solo films — or in the case of Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America, multiple standalone efforts, while Black Widow and the Hulk have had one apiece. The only one of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to not get his own big-screen adventure? Hawkeye.

Super-archer Clint Barton — played in five MCU films (counting his debut, a cameo in Thor) by Jeremy Renner — was originally slated to get his own spotlight movie. But somehow over the course of several years, the idea morphed into a TV show, focusing on the relationship between Barton and the newly introduced Kate Bishop, a young woman who eventually takes up the Hawkeye mantle.

“When we first started talking about it and developing Hawkeye, it was supposed to be a feature,” says Trinh Tran, executive producer of the show, which will now run for six episodes on the Disney+ platform.

“It was back in 2017 when we were still filming Infinity War and Endgame,” continues Tran. “The early discussion was, what is the story of Clint Barton and Kate Bishop on the feature side? Then as we were sort of diving into the research and going through all the comics, there was a lot of great stuff that we absolutely love, so we were trying to figure out, how do we have enough time to tell Clint’s story?”

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Tran, Marvel chief creative officer Kevin Feige and the rest of the Marvel brain trust began to worry that they might not have enough time in a standard feature film to tell both Hawkeye’s story and develop the character of Kate, who’s played a significant role in Marvel Comics since her first appearance in 2005.

“It didn’t make sense that the two hour timeframe was the right way to go,” explains Tran. “So at that time, Disney+ was also launching and we were talking about characters going into that platform. In speaking with Kevin, he mentioned, ‘Well, why not just allow you guys the six hours of space so that you can get deeper into the characters of these two and form that dynamic and chemistry?’ So it made sense to move that over.”

At a press conference for Hawkeye, Feige said that the main impetus for giving Clint Barton his own series was simple: “Primarily it’s Jeremy Renner,” he remarked. “We want to see more Jeremy Renner…that goes back to the earliest days and the trust that Jeremy had to jump into the MCU before moderators said things like, ‘Welcome to the MCU.’  It was, ‘Hey, you want to do this thing with us? It’d be pretty cool, and it could be neat.’ He said yes, then he won an Academy Award, and he still said yes.”

Feige added that Marvel always intended to “explore much more” about Hawkeye, whose role in the Marvel feature films was always more of a supporting one (although he got more to do in Avengers: Age of Ultron, where we learned he had a family). “The character’s history is vast,” said Feige. “Also the Matt Fraction run in the comics, which I’m sure people have been talking about, was a big tonal inspiration for us.”

Aside from seeing more of Renner in the role, Feige also said that Hawkeye is meant to fully flesh out the relationship between Clint Barton and his successor, played in the series by Hailee Steinfeld (Bumblebee).

“There are moments within all of Jeremy’s appearances where you see this mentor under the surface,” he elaborated, emphasizing a key scene in Age of Ultron where Barton motivates a young Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) to become an Avenger. “That was the kernel of how we could connect our MCU incarnation of Clint Barton to the Matt Fraction storyline and the relationship with Kate Bishop.”

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The first two episodes of Hawkeye premiere on Disney+ this Wednesday (November 24).

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