Warning: This post contains spoilers for the first two episodes of Hawkeye.
How Hawkeye changed Kate Bishop’s Marvel comics origin story. The Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to grow as it adds new characters to its vast world (that will soon include the multiverse). Clint Barton finally gets a chance to shine in his first solo outing since his introduction in 2011’s Thor, but it’s Kate Bishop’s introduction that shakes things up for the MCU.
Set after the events of Avengers: Endgame, Hawkeye sees Clint back in New York City before Christmas with his family. When his Ronin suit crops up at an auction, he tracks it to find Kate, a college student who donned the costume to fight the Tracksuit Mafia during their attempt to steal it. What they want is revenge on Ronin for his crimes prior to Endgame and Kate is roped into this subplot while being suspicious of her mother Eleanor’s fiancé, Jack Duquesne’s involvement in his uncle’s murder.
Hawkeye devotes a lot of time to establish Kate Bishop, her family life, and the motivations she has for teaming up with Clint. And like most every MCU character, Kate’s history and comics origin is tweaked to fit into the world of Hawkeye, which changes several aspects of her journey toward becoming a superhero.
Kate Bishop's MCU Origin Continues The Avengers Accountability
Kate Bishop’s origin in the MCU is directly tied with Hawkeye’s actions in the five-year period between Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Taking the Ronin costume means Clint has to deal with the ramifications of his actions, which saw him going on a global killing spree of crime syndicate members. Hawkeye arguably got off easy at the end of Avengers: Endgame, which saw him returning to his family and saving the world from Thanos. However, his time as Ronin is never properly addressed, which is something Hawkeye is revisiting. The MCU has slowly been establishing that the events of its first three phases have repercussions for the heroes in Phase Four.
Similar to how Bucky Barnes faced the consequences of his actions as The Winter Soldier in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Clint also had to contend with the ramifications of his actions in Hawkeye. There is still a lot of mystery left — including how the Ronin suit ended up at an auction — but Kate’s story being tied to that of Ronin means that his actions will be further explored throughout the series. Because Kate is involved (and very persistent when trying to find out the truth), it means Hawkeye will have to answer for what he did instead of moving past it unscathed. Forcing Clint to address his past will bring his story full circle and hopefully allow for some self-reflection before he leaves the superhero business in the hands of Kate.
How Hawkeye Changes Kate Bishop's Origin
Suffice it to say Hawkeye greatly changes Kate Bishop’s origin story. In the Marvel series, Kate had a good, loving relationship with her father, who died when she was young during the Battle of New York that took place in 2012's The Avengers. During the battle, Kate sees Hawkeye doing a heroic thing by shooting the Chitauri with an arrow while jumping off a building and that encourages her to take up archery and martial arts in a bid to protect herself and her mother, Eleanor. In the comics, however, Kate’s origin is different. Her father, Derek, doesn’t die and she has a very strained relationship with him due to his shady business dealings with the villains Madame Masque and El Matador, who eventually kidnaps Kate in a bid to leverage her life to get what he wants from Derek. She’s ultimately rescued by the Avengers and it’s the first time she sees Hawkeye, from whom she draws inspiration.
Kate wouldn’t join the Young Avengers until much later, following a brutal assault in Central Park that leaves her shaken and traumatized. It was only after that experience she decided to learn archery and combat skills to protect herself. In the comics, Kate and Ant-Man’s daughter Cassie Lang decide to become members of the Young Avengers and it’s Kate’s family money that finances the team’s efforts. In Hawkeye, Kate works more directly with Clint at the start of her superhero career and the Young Avengers are nowhere to be found just yet. Rather than Kate suspecting her father’s history with the criminal underworld, Hawkeye pits her against her future stepfather instead, whom she believes had a hand in killing his uncle Armand III.
What’s more, Hawkeye turns Kate into an only child; in the comics, she had a sister named Susan and fought Kang the Conqueror before finally taking up the mantle of Hawkeye. None of these aspects are a part of Kate’s backstory in Hawkeye, with the MCU series focusing on other elements and simplifying her origin before building her story out. It’s possible Hawkeye will reveal more about her dad’s history, but it seems more likely that Jack will take Derek’s place as the bad guy with villainous connections, with Hawkeye’s episode 2 already showcasing how strained Kate’s relationship is with him. Jack seems fated to become Kate’s enemy, which harkens back to her comics origin, albeit with a major twist.
Kate Bishop's Hawkeye Debut Steals One Thing From The Comics
Kate Bishop is nothing if not self-sufficient and Hawkeye showcases these character traits. While her comics origin is changed for the MCU series, there is one major thing that stays true to her roots: disguising herself as Ronin, a Hawkeye persona. In the comics, Kate also pretends to be Hawkeye to investigate the Young Avengers before joining their ranks. Kate is heavily influenced by Hawkeye’s heroics — in the Marvel series and in the comics — so it’s no surprise that she would don his costume (in any iteration). In the show, Kate doesn’t realize Ronin and Hawkeye are the same man before she disguises herself as the assassin, but it’s a nice nod to the superhero’s comics history.
Will Kate Bishop Lead The MCU's Young Avengers?
Kate Bishop is currently a solo act, though she’s certainly getting some hands-on superhero experience with Hawkeye. Considering she is one of the first major characters to be introduced in the MCU who isn’t already an established superhero (or villain) suggests Kate will be a central figure in Phase Four and beyond. Hawkeye sets up her origin story, revealing why she’s so invested in protecting her family and the optimism that comes with being a new superhero who hasn’t yet faced as many hardships as the weary Clint has in his life. This outlook on the world, paired with her fighting and archery skills, certainly sets up Kate as a potential leader for the MCU’s Young Avengers, which seems to be slowly building its roster from the ground up.
Hawkeye’s presence in the Marvel series is more to tie up loose ends for his story before officially passing on the torch. It’s similar to what Black Widow did with Natasha Romanoff and the introduction of her sister Yelena Belova, whose origin story was central to the film. Kate Bishop is noteworthy for leading the Young Avengers in the comics and, despite Hawkeye altering elements of her backstory, there is a lot of room for Kate to grow into that role down the line. It probably won’t happen by the end of Hawkeye’s six-episode run, but the Marvel series will surely develop Kate into a skilled leader and hero who will realize she needs her own team. Hawkeye is only the beginning for Kate Bishop and she’s too big a character not to follow her comics counterpart’s path in the future.
Hawkeye airs every Wednesday on Disney+.
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