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We Finally Know Why Hawkeye Never Got His Own Movie

Arrows are set to fly when Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye spinoff series hits the Disney+ streaming platform in 2021, but it turns out there was originally a very different plan for Marvel's bow-loving Avenger. 

That plan was to give Clint Barton his moment in the cinematic sun via a feature film in the vein of the rest of his O.G. Avengers brethren — including his bestie Natasha Romanoff, whose Black Widow feature will kick off the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Phase 4 madness early next year. Somewhere along the line, though, Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige had second thoughts about continuing Hawkeye's story in a big-screen, standalone film. 

Rather than banking on the one-off Hawkeye flick that Renner had originally signed on for, Feige and the Marvel team instead reimagined the hero's narrative prospects for a small screen venture, rightly deciding that the Hawkeye story the MCU needed would actually benefit from a serialized approach.

The Disney+ series will see Renner's arrow-slinging bad boy officially passing the torch to the next Hawkeye in the form of the comics' fan favorite character Kate Bishop. Though no deal has yet been inked for the coveted role opposite Renner in the Hawkeye series, Hailee Steinfeld (True GritBumblebee) has been circling the role for months, and it seems like just a matter of time before a deal is done. 

Although it's plain that a multi-episode serial will allow for more of a deep dive into Barton's post-Endgame story than a feature film would have, Feige was a bit apprehensive about flipping the script on Renner in regards to Hawkeye's next steps in the MCU. In fact, when recently laying out the landscape for the entertainment titan's Disney+ ventures, the man now in charge of all things Marvel told Bloomberg exactly that, adding that his worries were ultimately for naught as Renner "totally got it and said, 'Let's do it.'"

Luckily, it doesn't sound like Renner needed much convincing about transitioning Hawkeye from big screen to small — and we can't help but agree that the character will benefit mightily from the serial treatment, rather than a two-hour movie. After all, Renner's Hawkeye has been hanging around the MCU since The Avengers first assembled in 2012 (minus that brief cameo in 2011's Thor, of course). The character has appeared in just three MCU films since (Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War, and Avengers: Endgame). While Barton has become a fan favorite of sorts over the course of those films, he's frequently been relegated to secondary status among the increasingly crowded Avengers landscape.

This likely played a big part in Hawkeye's transition to the small screen, though it's worth noting that the few brief glimpses we've gotten into the life of the man behind the bow makes clear that there's plenty of mystery to mine in Barton's world. The Avenging Archer's small screen adventure will undoubtedly help Team Marvel further flesh out the character, and maybe fill in some of the blanks surrounding the "superhero with no superpowers."

What to expect from Hawkeye's Disney+ series

Of course, if the ultimate goal of Marvel's Hawkeye series is to see Barton pass the bow to the next generation, then the series should also offer ample opportunity for MCU fans unfamiliar with the Hawkeye comic book series to get acquainted with young Kate Bishop. Though Bishop's standalone Hawkeye book was cancelled by Marvel in 2017, the character — who made her debut in the pages of Young Avengers — remains a favorite among fans.

The inclusion of Bishop in future phases of the MCU seemingly helps to bolster the virulent rumor that Feige and company are indeed planning the a Young Avengers flick at some point in the future — as does the presence of the now-teenage Cassie Lang, the daughter of Ant-Man, who in the comics goes on to a superhero-ing career of her own with that very team, using the code name Stature (among others). It's just possible that the Hawkeye series could set up the formation of this team, although that is pure speculation at this point.

In fact, it's still a bit too early to tell just what narrative tack Hawkeye will take — but it seems likely that we'll be seeing a modified version of Bishop's origin story. The character first appeared as a trauma survivor who beefs up on combat training in the wake of a brutal attack; she's first thrust into heroic action by happenstance, coming to the aid of the titular team in Young Avengers #1.

By the time Bishop took up the Hawkeye mantle in the comics, Barton had already been killed off. Strangely enough, it was Jessica Jones who officially passed the Hawkeye code name off to Bishop (at the behest of Captain America), so Marvel's creative team will clearly have to do a little narrative rejiggering in adapting Bishop's story for the small screen. 

That, however, should be a fairly easy task. Given the wringer that Barton was put through during the events of Avengers: Endgame, it's a safe bet that the aging hero — himself in and out of "retirement" throughout the MCU's first three phases — will likely be eager to tap out of the action and pass the bow on to a young apprentice, if only so he can spend more time with his recently un-dusted family.

Whatever direction Marvel's creative team choose to go in with Hawkeye, it's clear that the narrative ground for the series remains more than fertile. It's just as clear that fans are beyond excited to spend a little extra time with Barton; here's hoping that the excitement extends to whomever steps into the fray as Bishop. 

Hawkeye is expected to debut on Disney+ in late 2021.