Courtesy of Disney+ Hotstar Malaysia, we were recently lucky enough to attend an online press conference for the upcomingÂ HawkeyeÂ series. It featured Jeremy Renner, Hailee Steinfeld, Kevin Feige, Vera Farmiga, Tony Dalton, and director/executive producer Rhys Thomas.
Check out what the Hawkeye cast and crew had to say:
The last time we saw Clint Barton in the MCU, he was mourning the loss of one of his best friends, spending a little time with Wanda talking about it, and then retreating with his family. Now he’s in New York caught up in a Christmas extravaganza. In your words, where do we find Clint at the start of the Hawkeye series?
Jeremy Renner: Yeah, what else you want me to say, you know? Yeah, ’cause there’s an emotional sort of through-line that ties in from obviously Avengers Endgame stuff, and it’s a lot of healing and these kinds of things. But, I mean, we start off with a very, very happy step forward into family vacation into New York at Christmas, and taking the kids to go see a musical. And then everything kinda goes sideways from there.
Tell us about Kate Bishop and where her confidence comes from.
Hailee Steinfeld: I really do feel like playing this character, it sort of forced me to find confidence and a determination and discipline that’s always been inside of me, but I really had to bring it out of myself for this and do this character justice. I feel so lucky to be playing a character that is so loved by so many and that people have been waiting for some time to see brought to life.
This is the sixth of six OG Avengers getting a title to be the lead here. What are you hoping we get to see from Hawkeye? What did you wanna take advantage of in giving him his own story that we didn’t get to see before?
Kevin Feige: Well, primarily, it’s Jeremy Renner. We wanna see more Jeremy Renner. You wanna see more of Jeremy Renner and more of Jeremy, uh, Renner. And that goes back to the earliest days, yes, we’re both grandfathers now of the MCU and the trust that Jeremy had to jump into the MCU before moderators said things like, welcome to the MCU. It was, hey, you wanna do this thing with us, and it’d be pretty cool, and I think it could be neat. And he said yes, and then he won an Academy Award, and he still said yes.
And I thought that was pretty cool, but they were relatively small obviously. In Avengers Age Of Ultron, we saw a little more, and then he just started stealing all the scenes, but it was always the intention to explore much more. The character’s history is vast. And also 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. And seeing that and this new dynamic. And there are moments within all of Jeremy’s appearances where you see this mentor under the surface.
This reluctant hero. This reluctant mentor under the surface. One of my favourite scenes in all of our films is the scene with Clint and Wanda in Sokovia when he basically says, you go out that door, you’re an Avenger and motivates her to join the fight. And 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.
Tony, welcome to the MCU. You come in as Jacques Duquesne, a popular character from comics. What can you say about, Jacques’ relationship to the Bishop family, and what we might see-how we might see that develop?
Tony Dalton: He’s sort of a family friend and then he becomes in love with Eleanor Bishop, and they have a sort of a little bit of a relationship. And you don’t know where he’s coming from. I don’t know. What the hell else am I supposed to say? (laughs) You don’t wanna give away too much, you know?
What convinced you to take on the role of Eleanor Bishop?
Vera Farmiga: There’s a couple of things. Well, number one, I love archery, just hands down. I am an archer. You guys don’t know this about me. In my first job, I played an archer with Heath Ledger in a series called Roar, where I had my bow and arrow and I had a 40- pound pull-weight arrow, andÂ I’m good at it, to be honest with you, so if I wasn’t gonna be wielding that bow and arrow, I just wanted to be next to someone with true grit.
Yeah, and to be honest with you, I have marvelled at this young lady since that first movie, and I also loved this sort of, this very delicate and complex maternal relationship with daughters. It is a tricky sport raising a successful daughter, you know, especially when the daughter and the mom have different ideas of what that success means. But, yeah, just happy to be by Hailee’s side for this.
Rogers The Musical. How did that come to be, and will we get to see more of it throughout the show?
Kevin Feige: The Rogers Musical. Rhys, was that your idea? There was an idea early on about why he comes to New York.
Rhys Thomas: Yeah, it was an innocent suggestion in one of our calls that I quickly tried to backtrack on.
Kevin Feige: So, when Rhys said that it gave us context for the opening episode, the context for why Clint is in New York, the context for Clint seeing himself in the way the world sees Hawkeye. And gave us an opportunity to have an amazing song by Mark Shaiman.
Did you do anything special to build your bond behind the scenes, and did Jeremy offer any good archery tips?
Hailee Steinfeld: That I was never gonna shoot an actual arrow. That was the first thing he told me, and it didn’t occur to me that that would actually be the case. But that’s that. But as far as bonding, No, but that’s-by the way, we really jumped right into this thing, right straight into the deep end together. So, we were kind of like taking it as it was coming, but I felt so grateful to have Jeremy’s support and his mentorship in real life as I do as Kate.
Why do you think this series format works better than as a feature film?
Rhys Thomas: I mean, you know, it’s time. Beginning to spend time with these characters and let them grow, and again, we’re introducing this character and, you know, it’s about these guys coming together and learning from one another, and it’s a world that you get to live in for a little longer. To me, it’s just more time, and I think you fall in love with these characters when you make these things, and you fall in love with all the possibilities of the ways you can annoy Clint and smash them together and so, yeah, getting to really have the runway to do that isÂ you’re always gonna take it.
Can you talk a little bit about Clint’s survival-survivor guilt from Avengers Endgame and how it affects his character in the Hawkeye series?
Jeremy Renner: I supposeÂ it was survivor guilt outside just dealing with the loss. There’s a lot of things that are lost. Do you know what I mean? That’s addressed in the show, which I think is beautifully intimate. It brings our characters closer together, as well as the audience. There’s a lot of weight that’s carried, you know. There might be a seeming veneer of grumpiness in this resting face in the show.
But it ultimately comes from just the weight and the horrors, and the tragedies and loss that come with the game. Its managing losses is the superhero game and the lightness and brightness that Hailee’s character brings in. It kinda counteracts that and comes in and kinda get it to level out some. So, it’s pretty cathartic, and I think quite beautiful.
Kate brings out a more playful side of Clint. I was hoping you can talk about that dynamic. How’d you guys set up this relationship?
Jeremy Renner: How do we set it up? There areÂ scripts, right? And it’s character development. Anf you set up, you know, characters that could be polar opposites in a lot of ways, but then they have a lot of congruent values and belief systems and skillsets, and things like that. And it’s a wonderfully complicated relationship or friendship or partnership, all these types of things. You can put all sorts of labels on it.
But it’s already kinda set up that way, and I think you can put these two characters in-in various different scenarios, and it’s gonna be a winning scenario. It really is great. It has a buddy cop. It has a mentor thing. It has beautiful intimate shared experiences that they have. It’s really touching and funny and I think it’s a really dynamic relationship, and I’m excited to see it all.
Hailee Steinfeld: It was very fun, sort of, figuring out as we were going. Sort of, the evolution of thisÂ dynamic in this relationship, and I think, ultimately, there’s a really true friendship there and an understanding. Kate sees Clint as someone, despite his past, as someone who wants to do good and wants to help people, and that’s all she wants to do in life, and she’s inspired by him and motivated by him and wants to be at his level and is very over-eager, and he puts up with a lot. But she really delivers at the end of the day.
What was the inspiration for setting the show during the holidays and giving it a Die Hard meets the MCU kind of feel?
Kevin Feige: This is fun because it is a Christmas story that is taking place during the holidays, and it also is based on early discussions about a limited time period. About setting a series in, you know, not quite real-time, but essentially in a six-day period. Six episodes, six days. Will Clint make it home for Christmas? Which was fun and a breath of fresh air after world-ending stakes and Celestials bursting out of planets and multiverse shenanigans that this is like Hawkeye himself. A grounded, family-based show.
Hawkeye represents the end of year one for Marvel Studios on Disney Plus. Can you reflect on how year one went and what you’ve learned as you head into year two?
Kevin Feige: Yeah. Well, it’s the end of year one of the projects finally coming out and people are able to see them. But it’s about year three or four for us as we’ve been developing them. And I think we learn on everything that the reception to each of them is what has been most gratifying. Because we wanted them to be different here. We’re sitting talking about a fun grounded action Christmas series. Loki is this very otherworldly thing. Falcon and Winter Soldier, geopolitical. And WandaVision, an ode to sitcoms and grief.
And it feels like the audience has responded the way we wanted to. That it doesn’t seem like an overabundance of this. I have always said, nobody will get bored before we at Marvel Studios will of these projects. And going, 20 plus years, I’m not anywhere near bored yet. Because we’re allowed to do within the sub-genre so many different types of types of things.
With amazing casts like this. And I really can’t stress. Some people have seen the first two episodes. But I’m very excited for them to see the rest. And the question will go to Tony (Dalton), you know, “Who’s Jacques Duquesne?” We’ll suddenly go to, “When will we see him again?” I hope. Unless you’re dead, in which case, maybe not.
And Vera (Farmiga). I mean, it’s great. And the amount of trust, I often say this that goes into these projects, they’re comics. There’s a track record. But Vera put it really well. It’s, “What’s it like to be in the universe?” Well, I don’t know what you mean universe. I know this one project that we’re signing on with these people to work every day as hard as we can. Um, and it means a lot when people sign up, and it means a lot when it turns out really well like this show has.
What are your thoughts on balancing huge cosmic ideas like what we just saw in Eternals to a much more grounded story like Hawkeye, and they both come out in the same month? Does that pose any unique challenges to you?
Kevin Feige: That poses an enormous opportunity for us. The comics have always, done both. And it was a dream of ours to always be able to do both. And Disney Plus has allowed us to take that even further than we had dreamed. They’re so different from one another. The MCU is sort of this all-encompassing genre, a palette to be able to play in.
I think in some ways, I think it sets it up well. That’s what I was saying before, that this epic in one way, Eternals, to this epic in a very different way, Hawkeye series.
What can we expect from Alaqua Cox (Maya Lopez/Echo) in this series?
Rhys Thomas: She never performed before but seemed completely unfazed when we come back and we really sort of put her through the wringer. But she never once botched and has kind of walked into this universe like she should’ve always been there.
Kevin Feige: She’s amazing. I can’t wait for people who’ve seen the first two episodes who have seen a very brief moment. But it will be fun to see the audience discover Maya over the course of this series, and then in her own series later.
How do you guys approach such opportunities for ties or make sure this is focused on the Hawkeye story and not veering off into other characters and cameos and things like that?
Kevin Feige: Well, it’s, I mean, Marvel’s the world outside your window, and in the Marvel comics, yes, Spidey could swing by at any moment, or the Fantastic Four could come flying down. But, even in the comics, it’s, “What is the story you’re telling?” And that’s really what has to always be the primary focus, which in this case, very much is Clint and Kate. An getting to know more about Clint, and getting to meet and know about Kate and everything in this series is focused toward that.
Can you talk about what made you want to return to Christmas again in the MCU?
Kevin Feige: I’ve always loved films or shows or specials that take place over the holiday season. I think there’s a heightened amount of emotion and a heightened amount of conflict and tension that can occur in this glorious season. And have always, honestly, been looking for opportunities. We’ve already announced, the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, which has literally been in the works for four years. This show has come up and now come out in that time.
I thought the Guardians one would be our first. they’re very different. But I just love this time of year for the storytelling possibilities.
HawkeyeÂ will premiere its first two episodes onÂ 24 November 2021 on Disney+ Hotstar.
The synopsis reads:
HawkeyeÂ is an original new series set in post-blip New York City where former Avenger Clint Barton aka Hawkeye has a seemingly simple mission: get back to his family for Christmas. But when a threat from his past shows up, Hawkeye reluctantly teams up with Kate Bishop, a 22-year-old skilled archer, and his biggest fan, to unravel a criminal conspiracy.
Stay tuned for our review ofÂ HawkeyeÂ soon. In the meantime, check out the trailer below: