What makes the Marvel Cinematic Universe so captivating for its many fans is the humans at the core of the big-budget bombast. Moving from the universe-shattering stakes of Avengers: Endgame to the street-level stakes of Hawkeye allows for a more focused look at a core Avenger who, after several films, is finally getting the limelight. This level of excitement was felt throughout the official press conference for Hawkeye, which we were lucky enough to attend, but the words of Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, in particular, struck a powerful chord.
Following those aforementioned universe-shattering stakes in which heroes were lost amidst a galactic war, Clint Barton is given time to reflect on his own anger and pain. In order to do this, series director Rhys Thomas (Documentary Now!) made the decision to film the show largely on the streets of New York City, where the series takes place, juxtaposing cosmic events with street-level consequences and fallout.
“I was kind of a tyrant about being as true to New York as we could. Nothing bugs me more than fake geography in movies, and fake texture,” Thomas said. “You want that real texture. Plus, we’ve got very human characters… that real-world feel can breathe through the show.” Star Jeremy Renner added how Barton’s character progression adds to this level of intimacy. “It was survivor’s guilt, just dealing with the loss. It’s addressed in the show which I think is beautifully intimate. It brings our characters closer together, as well as the audience.”
In order to further tell this smaller, more intimate Marvel tale, Rhy Thomas and Kevin Feige made the decision to set the series across a six-day period. “Six days. Six episodes” as Feige puts it, allowing for the kind of moment-to-moment attention we don’t always get in such massive projects. “Will Clint make it home for Christmas? Which was fun and a breath of fresh air after world-ending stakes and Celestials busting out of planets and multiverse shenanigans. This is like Hawkeye himself, a grounded, family-based show.”
From WandaVision to Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Loki, Marvel fans are always wondering just who they might see appear in any given project given the large universe of heroes these projects reside within. Rather than appealing solely to the joy of seeing a favorite returning character, however, Kevin Feige stresses the importance of proper utilization of these characters in a story as grounded as Hawkeye. “Marvel is the world outside your window, and in the comics, Spidey could swing by at any moment. Or the Fantastic Four could come flying down. But even in the comics, it’s ‘What is this story you’re telling?’ And that’s what always has to be the primary focus.”
Finally, the Marvel chief touched upon his favorite aspect of Hawkeye and how they were able to take inspiration from the highly-acclaimed comic run by Matt Fraction and David Aja. “The Matt Fraction comics, which I’m sure people have been spending a lot of time talking about over these last few press days, was a big tonal inspiration for us.”
When linking that source material to the MCU’s Hawkeye, which is admittedly a bit different, Kevin Feige explained that “there are moments within all of Jeremy’s appearances [as Hawkeye] where you see this mentor under the surface… one of my favorite scenes in all of our films is the scene with Clint and Wanda in Sokovia [from Age of Ultron], when he basically says, ‘You go out that door, you’re an Avenger’ and motivates her to join the fight. That was the kernel of how we could connect our MCU incarnation of Clint Barton into the Matt Fraction storyline and the relationship with Kate Bishop.”