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Hawkeye: Kate Bishop And Clint Barton's Relationship Explained

Though they come from two very different walks of life, one word unites Kate Bishop and Clint Barton: Hawkeye. While fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are pretty used to seeing Clint sling arrows on-screen, his eponymous Disney+ series ups the Hawkeye count by finally introducing Kate into the MCU's ever-growing pantheon of superheroes. While Kate's a far more recent creation than Clint, having been introduced in 2005's "Young Avengers," she has quickly become a fan-favorite among Marvel Comics readers, and has made a major impact on Clint's life — just as he has on hers.

While the Disney+ series explores the friendship between the two Hawkeyes in its own memorable way, there's plenty of comic book goodness out there for fans eager for more. In the time they've known each other, Clint and Kate have bonded, butted heads, and learned that they have more in common than a mere superhero name. Interested in hearing the whole story of this wacky, warm-hearted, and frequently weird relationship? Then keep on reading to learn what happens when arrows collide, and Hawkeye meets Hawkeye.

One Hawkeye falls, and another is born

While Kate Bishop and Clint Barton share the name "Hawkeye," that hasn't always been the case. Originally, Kate is set up as Clint's successor: She takes on the Hawkeye mantle shortly after Clint is killed by the Scarlet Witch during the events of 2004's "Avengers Disassembled" storyline. Inspired to join the Young Avengers after helping them subdue several assailants at her sister's wedding and meeting Cassie Lang, Kate and Cassie go to the team's secret meeting spot outside Avengers Mansion (or what's left of it). They're joined by Captain America, Iron Man, Jessica Jones, and eventually, Kang the Conqueror. While the three adult superheroes fight Kang, Kate retrieves several weapons for herself and the Young Avengers from within the mansion, including a bow and several arrows. Her resourcefulness proves extremely useful in battle, and with Cassie's help, she convinces the Young Avengers to keep being superheroes, against Iron Man and Captain America's wishes. 

Interestingly, she initially rejects the Hawkeye name when fellow Young Avenger Patriot recommends it. However, when Captain America officially bestows the name upon her and has Jessica Jones give her Clint's own archery gear, Kate finally accepts the storied moniker. As Jessica explains, Kate taking Cap to task for not accepting the Young Avengers sooner is exactly the sort of thing the original Hawkeye would've done. 

The rich girl and the orphan boy

Kate and Clint aren't quite a case of "The Prince and the Pauper," but they're not far off, either. Clint's early years were difficult and financially modest: His parents owned a small butcher shop, but both died when Clint was still quite young. When Clint and his brother Barney don't take to foster home living, they try their luck at circus life. While things do eventually take off for Clint, his road to success is fraught with hardship and betrayal.

In contrast, money is something Kate Bishop has never had to worry about. Thanks to her father's not-exactly-legal business dealings, Kate's upbringing has been made plush by massive financial luxury. Though she tries to balance things out through charitable work (an act that also sees her follow in her mother's footsteps), it's not until Madame Masque cuts her off from her father's wealth in 2013's "Hawkeye Annual" #1 that Kate decides to make her own money. She doubles down on this decision when she learns just how deep her father's criminal dealings go.

When Kate met Clint

Funnily enough, Kate actually meets her superhero namesake without even realizing it when Clint briefly takes Captain America's place in "Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America" #3. Later, in 2008's "Young Avengers Presents" #6, Kate and Patriot are attacked by Ronin, who Kate quickly realizes is testing her skills in battle. Impressed, Ronin hands her a card with a location written on it, telling her to bring her bow. Kate acquiesces, and quickly discovers two shocking things: Her rendezvous point with Ronin is the New Avengers headquarters, and Ronin is Clint Barton, alive and well. Clint takes her to an archery target and makes a stunning wager. If he makes the famous "Robin Hood Shot," Kate has to return the bow Captain America gave her, and let Clint tutor her in archery. If he misses, Kate gets to keep the bow and the Hawkeye identity, and the New Avengers will stay out of the Young Avengers' business. 

Clint makes the shot easily, devastating Kate. Later, however, her teammate Speed convinces her to break into Avengers HQ to steal the bow back. The two take cover when Ronin and Luke Cage unexpectedly arrive, although Clint soon realizes Kate's been there, as he recognizes her perfume. Rather than rat Kate and Speed out, though, Clint indirectly gives them and the other Young Avengers his blessing. He catches up to Kate at the Young Avengers' hideout later on, and not only tells her she can keep the bow, but gives her a picture of himself with the other members of "Cap's Kooky Quartet." The Young Avengers have the grown-up Avengers' support.

Clint and Kate's many rough patches

You might think Clint and Kate fit naturally into the roles of mentor and mentee. Things certainly seem headed in that direction, at first. But in fact, Kate begins working with Clint during an especially turbulent period in his life, when a growing series of mistakes lands him in trouble with the law, a gang of tracksuit-clad mobsters, and his loved ones. Exhausted from watching Clint's continual downward spiral and frustrated by his inaction against the mob and refusal to let his friends help him, Kate breaks up their partnership. She heads to Los Angeles and becomes a superhero-for-hire and unlicensed private investigator. But when she learns of a massive supervillain plot to kill Clint, she races back to New York.

Clint and Kate hit another rough patch when they rescue three mysterious children HYDRA has been using for the mysterious "Project Communion." It's Kate's decision to free them, but Clint expresses reservations, and later, outright objections when the kids use their powers to liquefy the bodies of several HYDRA soldiers. Clint then has S.H.I.E.L.D. take the kids into their custody, a decision that spurs Kate into splitting from Team Hawkeye. After Clint is reminded of how central Kate's become to his life by his brother Barney, however, he approaches her about rescuing the children. This mends things between them ... and saves the kids from being murdered by Maria Hill 20 years down the line. 

They both have flawed father figures

Dad issues are a common theme in the Marvel Universe, and it's no different when it comes to the Hawkeyes. Clint has the misfortunate of having gone from one bad father figure to the other: His biological father Harold (who, oddly, Clint once claims to have never known) often hit Clint and Barney in their youth. Later, when the boys become circus workers, Clint learns knife-throwing from the Swordsman, who also gives Clint his first bow and becomes his first archery teacher. Later, the Swordsman asks circus newcomer and expert archer Trick Shot to continue molding Clint's bow and arrow technique. Eventually, however, Clint learns that the Swordsman and Trick Shot are both involved in criminal activities.

While Kate does not suffer the same abuse from her own father, Derek, she eventually discovers that he, like Hawkeye's later father figures, is involved in organized crime. Though he initially seems to specialize in crooked real estate schemes (for which he sometimes hires supervillains like the Matador), he becomes even more entrenched in the Marvel Universe's criminal underworld as time goes by. Perhaps most objectionably, he makes a number of deals with Madame Masque, one of Kate's fiercest arch-enemies. In exchange, Masque transfers his mind into a cloned, younger version of his body that possesses vocal coercion powers latent in Derek's DNA.

The Hawkeyes' very lucky dog

When you're a superhero who relies on bows and arrows, it helps to have a little luck on your side ... especially the cuddly kind that walks on four legs. Clint Barton first meets Lucky — or, as he's called then, Arrow — when he tries buying his apartment building from Ivan Banionis. Things go south quickly when Clint learns Banionis isn't interested: The Avenger ends up thrown out a window and shot in the arm by Arrow's original owner, an "associate" to Banionis. In reaction to the firing gun, Arrow bites his owner, who responds by kicking the hapless dog into traffic. Despite losing an eye and getting struck by a car, Arrow survives. Clint renames the dog Lucky and takes him home, where he becomes a loyal companion to both him and Kate. 

Though Clint and Lucky briefly part company when Kate takes the perky pup with her to Los Angeles, he returns with the female Hawkeye to save the male Hawkeye's life from Banionis and his gang. Though Lucky is shot by the fearsome Clown, he eventually heals and settles into Clint's apartment once more. Later, when Kate goes back to California to set up shop long-term in Venice Beach, she's reunited with Lucky. The two are briefly captured by Madame Masque, but they escape when Kate uses Lucky's dog collar charm and her impeccable aim to open their cell door. On another adventure, Lucky befriends Laura and Gabby Kinney's pet wolverine, Jonathan.

Kate's inspiring first glimpse of Clint

When Kate first makes the bow and arrow her tools of the superheroic trade, the choice seems mostly driven by the fact that she's already a great archer, rather than by any sort of connection to the first Hawkeye. Yet in 2016's "All-New Hawkeye" #6, it's revealed that Clint's influence on Kate is much more direct than fans previously thought. In fact, he and his fellow Avengers saved her from the Matador before she was even a teenager. 

As a flashback reveals, powerhouses like Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man were also among Kate's rescuers. But it was Clint who impacted Kate the most that fateful day, by going into battle with only his archery gear to protect him. Though several years passed before she became a superhero in her own right, it's clear that meeting Clint when she was a young girl played a huge role in Kate's life trajectory.

Kate might lead a legion of Hawkeyes someday

Clint may have created the Hawkeye identity, but in one possible future, he gives it up due to his self-defeating tendencies. Kate, conversely, continues being Hawkeye throughout the next two decades, gaining great renown and becoming a major asset for S.H.I.E.L.D. When she approaches an older Clint about rescuing the Inhuman children from HYDRA's "Project Communion," Clint is shocked to learn that Kate has turned the Hawkeye name into an entire operation, complete with a support staff whose members Kate also refers to as Hawkeye. 

While this potential future is seemingly erased when Clint approaches Kate about going back for the "Project Communion" kids in the present day storyline, that doesn't necessarily mean Kate won't expand the Hawkeye identity in a similar way, further down the line. Just so long as one of those new Hawkeyes isn't Bullseye, the most infamous person to have donned the mantle, she'll probably do a great job.

Kate has met Clint's younger self

Kate gets to know Clint in a whole new way when she and several other marksmen of history are mysteriously pulled back in time for a tournament in 2017's "Generations: Hawkeye & Hawkeye" #1. She soon runs into Clint, who's wearing his classic Hawkeye costume, rather than the plainclothes version she's familiar with. Naturally, he has no idea who Kate is. Not wanting to alter the timeline, given their "official" first meeting takes place years later, Kate awkwardly introduces herself as "Hawk-ess," and teams up with Clint to discover who's responsible for teleporting them onto the island where the tournament's being held. 

The culprit turns out to be the Swordsman, along with another one of his proteges, Eden Vale. Seeing firsthand how the Swordsman molds his students gives Kate a greater appreciation for Clint not being that kind of mentor figure to her, especially given her difficulties coping with her father's criminal ties. Together, the two Hawkeyes put an end to the Swordsman's competition with a surprise assist from Eden, who loses faith in her mentor when she learns the competition is a ploy meant to sway Hawkeye towards villainy. 

They form a West Coast Avengers team together

Clint Barton famously brings the original version of the West Coast Avengers into existence. Some years later, history repeats itself when Clint takes part in the formation of a new West Coast Avengers team, which he co-founds and leads with Kate (who acts as the main leader). The two Hawkeyes recruit Fuse, Gwenpool, America Chavez, and Kid Omega, the last of whom provides them with cash under the condition that they be filmed for a potential reality show. 

The team fights some fairly formidable threats, including a West Coast version of the Masters of Evil, whose membership includes Kate's father. They also square off against a vampire cult that includes Kate's previously-thought-dead mother, Eleanor (who's also a vampire). They do battle against tongue-in-cheek villains as well, like Gridlock, who uses his powers to combine several cars into a gigantic robot. Two more members join the team during their adventures, including Kate's ex-boyfriend Marvel Boy and her friend Ramone Watts, the latter of whom merges with a Vibranium ring to become the armored superhero Alloy.

Kate's the only Hawkeye who's been an actual hawk

Yes, you read that right. For the inaugural mission of their brand-new West Coast Avengers team, the Hawkeyes fight M.O.D.O.K., who has changed himself into B.R.O.D.O.K. (Bio-Robotic Organism Designed Only For Kissing) and made gigantic monsters out of women who refused to date him. When Kate uncovers B.R.O.D.O.K.'s plot, he turns her into "Kate-Hawk," essentially a giant hawk-person. Luckily, Clint finds a device that turns B.R.O.D.O.K. back into M.O.D.O.K. before the villain can psychically turn Kate-Hawk against her teammates. The "hawkified" Avengers leader knocks him into a building and throws him into the sky. 

Despite the fact that she's only able to make hawk noises, Kate convinces her teammates not to make her human again until she distracts the other monster women long enough for Clint and Omega to return them to normalcy. Once the job is done (save one woman, who enjoys being a giant dragon), Kate-Hawk is turned into Kate again, faster than you can say "Hawkgirl" ... something that probably made DC Comics' legal department sigh in relief.

Kate may have inspired Clint's Boomerang Arrow

Kate isn't as keen on using trick arrows as Clint is — at least at first. Eventually, she comes around somewhat to his way of thinking. One trick arrow that initially perplexes her is the Boomerang Arrow. Why, she wonders, would an archer need an arrow that can come back around and hit them? Kate learns the usefulness of this arrow firsthand, however, when she's held at gunpoint by one of the infamous tracksuit mobsters she and Clint have made enemies out of. She pretends to miss her shot, which the armed criminal mocks, but of course, the arrow comes back around and knocks him unconscious. 

Thanks to the wonders of time travel, Kate goes from being the one who scoffs at Clint's Boomerang Arrow to the person potentially responsible for its creation. After fending off several marksmen during the Swordsman and Eden Vale's tournament, Kate loans Clint a Boomerang Arrow to use against the other competitors. In a hilarious twist, this time it's Clint who's skeptical of the arrow's practicality, echoing the same criticisms Kate makes when she first learns about the unusual — but ultimately quite handy — object.