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[This story contains spoilers through Hawkeye episode five.]
Secrets are revealed, betrayals are made, arrows are shot, and the Big Man looms over it all. The penultimate episode of Hawkeye, “Ronin,” directed by Bert & Bertie, and written by Jenna Noel Frazier, wastes no time getting to revelations that fans have been speculating about the whole season, and even earlier, given how impactful Cate Shortland’s Black Widow (2021) proves to be on what’s going down in Manhattan in the days before Christmas. The momentum of Hawkeye continues to build and does so without sacrificing character moments. While this episode may be slightly less action-packed than the previous two and sees Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) and Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) separated for most of its runtime, the stage is set, and the pieces are in place for a finale that’s going to leave a major impact on the MCU for years to come.
Because it wouldn’t be a Marvel show without a few theories, some safer bets than others, I’ve got five predictions about the finale of Hawkeye.
Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox) finally gets her shot to face off against Clint, who dons his Ronin guise to confront her. She puts up a good fight but isn’t a match against Barton. Just when she thinks Ronin is going to kill her, Clint reveals himself to her, along with the revelation that he was tipped off by Kazi (Fra Free) about the Tracksuit Mafia’s location five years ago on the night her father was killed. He tells Maya that the man whom she and Kazi are working for, “Uncle,” wanted her father, William (Zahn McClarnon), dead. While Maya doesn’t believe him at first, attempting to kill Clint before Kate saves him, the seeds of doubt are planted in her head.
Kingpin’s betrayal of William, and use of Maya as a weapon, makes up the premise of Echo’s first comic appearance in David Mack and Joe Quesada’s Daredevil arc, Parts of a Hole, in which Maya discovers the truth and blinds Kingpin as a result. While I don’t expect she’ll get her revenge on her father’s killer here, I do think we’ll see her confront the man responsible for his death in the finale. Even if Maya doesn’t come to Clint and Kate’s aid in the final battle, she won’t stand against them. This will set the stage for her redemption and rise to heroism in her previously announced spinoff series, Echo. Maya Lopez will no longer be a problem for Clint and Kate, but I do think in the end she’ll don the Ronin suit, with a few adjustments, and “echo” Barton’s mission of taking down criminal organizations, starting with NYC’s underworld.
In the Sights of the Kingpin
We knew it was coming, but Vincent D’Onofrio is back as Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of Crime, reprising the role he inhabited in three seasons of Daredevil from 2015 to 2018. There have been rumors that this version of the Kingpin will be a slight reboot of the character, with the one appearing in the Netflix series existing as a Variant. This may explain why Fisk keeps to the shadows, preferring not to draw attention to himself, a fact that the Tracksuit Mafia make note of numerous times. Given how public the Kingpin eventually became in Daredevil, a rewrite of that continuity could allow for him to act without raising red flags, at least until superheroes get involved.
But regardless of whether this is a reboot of the character, or the same one we met before, Kingpin is definitely going to be a major figure in the MCU going forward, causing headaches for NYC’s heroes. Undoubtedly, Kate is going to end up drawing attention to his operation, which will lead to him putting a target on her back. In the finale of Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye, Fisk assembled a group of crime leaders — the Owl, Madame Masque, Mr. Negative, Hammerhead, the Ringmaster, Tombstone and Derek Bishop — to kill Clint and Kate, with the Kingpin saying, “It would appear we are in the Avenger-killing business.” I expect a similar call for blood at the end of Hawkeye, along with a couple surprising faces to set up NYC’s underworld.
The Swordsman as Kate’s Mentor
Eleanor Bishop (Vera Farmiga) is revealed to be in league with the Kingpin, throwing all her credibility to the wayside — not that she had much to begin with. All signs point toward her being the real CEO of Sloan Limited, and the murderer of Armand Duquesne III (Simon Callow), with Jack Duquesne (Tony Dalton) being set up as both red herring and fall guy. While Jack, better known in the comics as the Swordsman, has played both villain and hero in Marvel lore, I think this iteration will actually be the romantic swashbuckler we previously believed he was only pretending to be.
Eleanor will likely go to prison for what she’s done, the Kingpin using her as his own fall guy, which will leave Kate without any parents to rely on. And with Clint inevitably returning to his family in time for Christmas, Kate will seemingly be all alone. Except, the dynamic between Kate and Jack is too good to merely conclude within the span of a few episodes. Credit to my colleague Brian Davids, who predicts that Jack will become Kate’s new mentor and will make certain her sword-fighting skills are just as sharp as her archery skills. This would also be a nice play on comic book history since it was Jack who trained Clint Barton. Shifting this mentor and protégé relationship to Kate Bishop would create a unique dynamic, especially given Jack is much flashier than Clint. And I bet he’d have no problem wearing a purple costume that Kate’s LARPer friends could stitch together.
The highlight of the latest episode is the conversation between Kate and Yelena (Florence Pugh), in which the latter lays her grievances with Clint Barton out on the table as the two share a pot of mac and cheese in Kate’s burnt-out apartment. Once again, Kate preconceptions are proven wrong as Yelena turns out to not be at all what she expected. The back and forth between the two, in which Yelena exhibits the quirkiness and childlike excitement over her freedom that she did in Black Widow, doubles as an interrogation scene, with both women sizing each other up over comfort food, softening the discomfort and awkwardness of the conversation they’re having about the trail of blood Clint left as Ronin. While Kate is convinced that Ronin was a mistake Clint made in grief — he’s told her that he’s resolved to atone for his past — Yelena tells her, “We are defined by what we do. Not by nice words.”
What’s interesting is that Yelena, blinded her revenge, can’t see that those words apply to her as well. Now that she’s free of the Red Room, she is fully responsible for the choices she makes, and despite her “nice words” to Kate, isn’t the hero in this situation. With the revelation at the beginning of the episode that she was snapped, her mission to free the other Black Widows taken out of her hands, and perhaps concluded without her, she is a woman without a mission, a mission that she always saw as ending with a reunion between herself and Natasha (Scarlett Johansson). This loss of time, and of the happy ending she saw for herself, opens her up to being used as a weapon by Val (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), as we saw in the post-credit scene in Black Widow.
While Clint wasn’t responsible for Natasha’s death in Avengers: Endgame (2019) and did his best to sacrifice himself instead, the only person who could verify that information is Clint himself, and Yelena can’t trust his words because her entire character has been built around her trust being betrayed, with the one person she fully learned to trust taken from her. With redemption making the rounds in Hawkeye, with Clint and Maya on the receiving end, I think Yelena is going to miss out. I don’t necessarily believe she’ll become a full-tilt villain, but her connection to Val certainly hasn’t concluded. In an inverse from Clint and Natasha’s relationship, I think the new Hawkeye and Widow will be antagonists with a mutual respect for each other, and perhaps as leaders of two competing teams of costumed adventurers, one that seeks to uphold the legacy of the Avengers, and another the strives to remind them they are not gods: New Avengers and Thunderbolts.
Hawkeye Season 2
Much like Loki, it feels as though Hawkeye is perfectly primed to last more than one season, even if the next one doesn’t include Clint. Kate Bishop: Hawkeye sounds like a pretty great title for a second installment. That title is also the name of Kelly Thompson’s Hawkeye series, which followed Kate Bishop’s adventures, mostly without Clint, in California, and is just as notable a part of her comic history as Matt Fraction’s series. Kate’s adventures in California don’t remove the target placed on her by Kingpin, with Madame Masque positioning herself as Kate’s nemesis, and Kate’s parents becoming recurring threats as well. Regardless of whether Kate goes to L.A. for a fresh start, or stays in New York for a second series, she still has a lot of runway to define herself as a superhero on her own terms before becoming an Avenger.
And speaking of Avengers, Kate’s story is definitely one that will cross over into the movies as well. While a Kate Bishop solo movie doesn’t seem likely, given the grounded and episodic nature of comic series, it’s easy to imagine her joining the next iteration of the Avengers alongside Captain America (Anthony Mackie), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), and Spider-Man (Tom Holland), or even being central to the next Black Widow movie as her relationship with Yelena develops further. Whatever the future holds, “Kate Bishop will return,” and Marvel Studios will likely say just that in the credits of next week’s finale of Hawkeye.
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