2021 has been the year of the MCU on Disney+. Throughout the past 11 months, Marvel fans have been treated to five different series, each of which continued and contributed in some way to the extended universe.
And while the Marvel movies either introduced brand new superheroes (a big welcome to Shang-Chi and The Eternals) or gave us a new back story on one of the franchise's fallen heroes ('Black Widow'), it was the three live-action Disney+ series that kept us invested week after week. And now, we've come to the final entry of the year with 'Hawkeye'.
The series catches back up with Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) as he watches the latest hit musical on Broadway, 'Rogers: the Musical', through gritted teeth. Deciding to duck out early, he and his children spot a person who looks strangly like someone from Barton's past...
'Hawkeye' will serve as the introduction of a brand new superhero into the MCU, Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), who will team up with Barton to take down an underground criminal conspiracy. Oh, and it's all set during Christmas.
Ahead of the double-episode premiere this week, we managed to catch up with the director of the series, Rhys Thomas ('Saturday Night Live'), about the intricacies of working for Marvel and bringing a new superhero to our screens.
I managed to watch the first two episodes this week, and really enjoyed them. They're different to the other Marvel series we've seen this year. First, I wanted to know at what point did the Christmas angle enter the narrative when making the series?
Rhys: It felt like an interesting way to meet Clint, as he's the family man in The Avengers, and he's also the human. I honestly don't remember when the Christmas topic came about, it may have even pre-dated me a little bit, but it just felt perfect for Clint. And also, the classic Christmas movie trope of the man trying to get home to his family is such a wonderful framework that it had to be exploited.
But what if it got delayed and messed up the MCU timeline? Was that at the back of your mind?
Rhys: Oh, yeah very much so! We had to slot into a very specific slot and it definitely put the pressure on getting the show made within a certain timeframe. We didn't have the luxury of being able to push it at all.
I previously chatted with Kate Herron who directed the first series of 'Loki' and I wondered if you had to reach out to her to make sure your TV shows lined up with one another - or to any of the other directors within the MCU?
Rhys: What's interesting is that you've got the Marvel masterminds up in the clouds above you so the only way that I would find out I was treading on anyone's toes was if I came up with an idea, you know in the middle of the night I'd get all excited and I'd have a thought and in the morning I'd deliver it, and then be told, 'Oh no, you can't do that because they're doing it in this show or movie'. They're very secretive in Marvel so even within the shows, you don't know what's going on anywhere else.
What struck me while watching the first two episodes was how seamlessly Kate Bishop enters the scene. How do you juggle the introduction of a brand new character and essentially what might be the exit of another?
Rhys: It's so exciting to have the priviledge of introducing a new character and, like you said, Hailee slots in and wears it comfortably. I think the fact that she comes in as this fan of Hawkeye again is an interesting perspective; it's not like she was bitten by a spider or born with power. She, like Clint, has chosen a path, and the show is about someone coming to understand what their identity means and what it really means to live that life. I think it's the humanity that gives it this lived-in quality, and I think we can all identiy with these characters more than the other Avengers.
The first two episodes of 'Hawkeye' directed by Rhys Thomas are available to stream on Disney+ now.