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Hawkeye Episode 5 Confirms What We Suspected All Along About The Netflix Marvel Series' Canonicity

Marvel Studios continues to surprise fans with its live-action shows on Disney+, and "Hawkeye" is no different. Since it started airing, the series has introduced an impressive array of new characters into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) being swiftly thrust into the spotlight in the premiere episode. But because the MCU feels like it's in flux thanks to projects like "WandaVision," "Loki," and "Spider-Man: No Way Home," fans have wondered how "Hawkeye" matches all of that. 

Thankfully, the series just addressed a long-running theory, but not before "Hawkeye" Episode 5 really kicked things up a notch. In the newest episode, Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) arrives in New York to hunt Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) because she thinks he's responsible for Natasha Romanoff's (Scarlett Johansson) death. It leads to a brilliant conversation between Kate and Yelena in Kate's apartment, in which the Black Widow strongly advises Kate to stay out of her way. It also leads to Yelena explaining that she was hired by Kate's mother, Eleanor Bishop (Vera Farmiga), to assassinate Clint. It's a somewhat surprising reveal, although what's more shocking is a grainy photo that shows Eleanor working with an even more dangerous figure – Vincent D'Onofrio's Kingpin. Say it with us now, "When I was a boy..."

The Netflix shows are canon (sort of)

It turns out that Kingpin is the big boss behind the Tracksuit Mafia, which also means he's a likely candidate for the mysterious uncle of Maya (Alaqua Cox) who briefly shows up during a flashback in Episode 3. In the comics, Kingpin takes Maya as his adoptive daughter after killing her father, William Lopez. As of right now, it's not clear if he does the same thing in MCU canon when Zahn McClarnon's Lopez is killed by Ronin. The reveal doesn't tell us too much about what Marvel Studios considers as MCU canon where the Netflix shows are concerned, but that'll likely come in the season finale.

However, Kevin Feige recently teased that Charlie Cox could reprise his role as Matt Murdock, a.k.a. Daredevil, somewhere down the line in the MCU. If Marvel Studios wants to keep things entirely fresh, it would be easy to designate the Netflix shows as taking place elsewhere in the multiverse. But it also wouldn't be too difficult to integrate them into the ongoing tapestry of superheroes.

The Kingpin reveal does raise certain questions about the Netflix shows' canon status. Does this take place after his bloody confrontation with Murdock and Bullseye (Wilson Bethel) at the end of "Daredevil" Season 3? Are the other "Defenders" heroes like Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), Luke Cage (Mike Colter), and Iron Fist (Finn Jones) hiding elsewhere in the universe? If so, where were they during the fight with Thanos? It feels like we've all had this conversation before, but we'll just have to wait and see what happens in the MCU going forward. Simply put, it's an exciting time for fans.