Hawkeye episodes 1 and 2 recap: Avenger’s dark past comes back to haunt him

The Hawkeyes gather for the festive season.

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With the multiversal madness of Loki and What If... ? in our rearview mirrors, it's time for an Avenger to take center stage in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The first two episodes of Hawkeye hit Disney Plus on Wednesday, whisking us off on a New York City adventure with a pair of extraordinarily capable archers.

In the midst of the holiday season following the events of Avengers: Endgame and the return of billions of vanished people after a five-year absence, Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) is suffering the emotional fallout of losing his best bud Black Widow. Little does he know that he's about to get a new ally in Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), even if their relationship has a rocky start.

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Entertain your brain with the coolest news from streaming to superheroes, memes to video games. Let's follow their arrows straight into SPOILER territory.

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Got 'em, bro

Kate and Clint form a tentative partnership as Clint tries to recover his Ronin gear, but the second episode ends with them captured by the Tracksuit Mafia. The goons gleefully bring news of their success to their mysterious boss Maya Lopez, aka Echo (Alaqua Cox), as she hangs out in a room full of speakers.

Echo makes her MCU debut in this episode.

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"We have... them both.

We have them both," her goon says in a deliberate manner, before she casually dismisses him.

Echo has been around in the comics since 1999. Daredevil #10 is her second appearance, and she looks pretty rad on the cover.

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This scene subtly hints at Maya's deafness -- she touches the speakers to feel the vibrations -- but she possesses an ability that lets her go toe-to-toe with anyone in the MCU.  In the comics, she has "photographic reflexes" -- meaning she can perfectly mimic another person's movements (kinda like Taskmaster, who showed up in Black Widow).

In her first appearance back in 1999, she became a concert-level pianist by watching someone play and has gained awesome martial arts and acrobatics skills by viewing recordings of fights.  Despite showing up in a villainous capacity here, she's unlikely to stay a baddy. She's getting her own Disney Plus show sometime in the future, and her comics counterpart started out as Daredevil villain and went on to become a member of the Avengers.

That comics history might also hint at another villain in the shadows -- a character fans of the Netflix Marvel shows will be familiar with.

A bigger boss?

The events of these episodes were set in motion by Clint's dark time as the criminal-killing vigilante Ronin, which we glimpsed in Endgame. After Thanos' Snap took his family, he started a grief-fueled campaign of bloody justice against the criminal gangs who survived.  We previously only knew of his slaughtering bad guys in Mexico and Japan, but these episodes reveal that New York City's criminals fell to his sword as well.

In an underworld auction of illegally obtained items, Ronin's costume and sword go under the hammer and the auctioneer mentions how the vigilante wiped out "the status and power of the head of organized crime" in the city.  We don't learn who this person is, and there are a bunch of hardcore New York City crime bosses in Marvel history, but the most iconic and awesome was established in a show on another streaming service. Wilson Fisk, aka the Kingpin, held the city in his iron grip through three seasons of Netflix's Daredevil and was an absolutely magnificent, terrifying villain.

There's only room for one Kingpin of crime in Marvel's New York City.

Hopefully Wilson Fisk will return in Hawkeye.

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When we last saw Fisk (Vincent D'Onofrio) at the end of Daredevil's third season -- which took place before the Snap -- he was sent back to prison. However, he managed to run his criminal empire from behind bars before, and he could easily have escaped in the chaos following the Snap (assuming he survived it). D'Onofrio also expressed his excitement for Hawkeye a week before the show hit Disney Plus.

"This is going to be fun. I love these @Marvel series," the actor wrote.

How very suspicious. It's possible I'm barking up the wrong tree, though.

Echo is also Fisk's adopted daughter in the comics -- he raised her after killing the little girl's father. Fisk's deception is revealed after he sends her after Daredevil, and she turns on the crime lord.

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The Netflix shows (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Punisher and Defenders) ran from 2015 to 2019, and all ostensibly took place in the MCU. However, their importance seemed diminished as time went on -- the shows referenced each other and some MCU movie events, but the characters didn't permeate the movies like many fans had hoped. 

Earlier this year, Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige told the Hollywood Reporter that "everything is on the board" in terms of characters from the Netflix series reappearing, and he acknowledged the "great characters and actors in those shows."  Reports have suggested that Charlie Cox will reprise his role as Daredevil (possibly in his civilian identity as Matt Murdock) in Spider-Man: No Way Home, but he's been coy about it.

Eleanor Bishop and Jack Duquesne look dapper, but he's pretty sus.

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Sneaky Swordsman

The infuriatingly smug Jack Duquesne (Tony Dalton) is clearly up to no good, given his presence at the underworld auction, his deception regarding his skill with a sword and the hints that he killed Armand III. It's likely he's cozying up to Eleanor Bishop (Vera Farmiga) to gain access to Bishop Security's resources.

We got a sense of the company's tech when Kate easily tracked Clint's phone, so Jack could use it for criminal pursuits. Duquesne's comics counterpart -- Jacques Duquesne -- goes by the name Swordsman and trained a young Clint in the use of blades. If the same is true in the MCU, it's possible he recognized Clint as Ronin from the footage of his rampages and will fling that in our hero's face when they meet (especially since he has Clint's fancy Ronin sword).

In the comics version,  he started out as a villain, even infiltrating the Avengers while working for the Mandarin. However, he preferred the life of a hero to that of a criminal. It's unclear what direction the MCU character will go in.

This is probably the most famous panel from Matt Fraction and David Aja's Hawkeye run, and gives you a good sense of the tone.

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Observations and Easter eggs

  • This show riffs heavily on Matt Fraction and David Aja's incredible Hawkeye comics run, with shots, situations and characters (like Clint's capture by the Tracksuit Mafia and Lucky the Pizza Dog) closely mirroring the source material.

    I highly recommend you read this incredible 22-issue series -- it's all available on Marvel Unlimited, a subscription service that gets you access to a massive library of comics and has a one-week free trial.

  • In Fraction's series, Clint nicknames the Tracksuit Mafia the "Tracksuit Draculas," which is super fun to say out loud.
  • Clint being a Dorky Christmas Dad is delightful, and he's mostly pretty good at hiding how haunted he is.
  • Rogers: The Musical is vaguely reminiscent of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, the infamously troubled stage adaptation of the wall-crawler's adventures. I Could Do This All Day seems like a better song than Boy Falls From The Sky, though.
  • Clint's iconic building fall happens at 2:02 in Avengers. This episode reveals it was a traumatic and formative moment for 2012 Kate. 
  • It turns out that Clint's heroic exploits have gradually damaged his hearing, with flashbacks to explosive moments in Avengers, Age of Ultron and Endgame.

    This is inspired by a 1983 Hawkeye miniseries by the late Mark Gruenwald, in which Clint lost much of his hearing in a battle with supervillain Crossfire.

  • The "Thanos Was Right" graffiti on the theater urinal references the warped notion that the universe was better off after the Mad Titan wiped out half of all life.
  • Echo was the first person to take on the Ronin identity in the comics, having used it to join the Avengers.

Join us for more Easter eggs and observations next Wednesday, Dec.

1, when episode 3 of Hawkeye hits Disney Plus.

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