Warning - this article contains spoilers for Episodes 1 and 2 of Hawkeye.
The MCU's last installment on Disney+ for 2021 has finally arrived in the form of Hawkeye, bringing Clint Barton back into the Marvel Studios spotlight.
Picking up around two years after the events of Avengers: Endgame, the first two episodes of Hawkeye follow the former Avenger on a holly-jolly crusade alongside Hailee Steinfeld's Kate Bishop.
As with most MCU projects, the episodes tied heavily to past Marvel films, particularly 2012's The Avengers. Kate's story was propelled with a flashback to the Battle of New York, revealing her connection to Clint Barton. The formation of Earth's Mightiest Heroes' was referenced again during a performance of 'Rogers: The Musical,' a more lighthearted and glossy retelling of the Chitauri invasion.
The final moments of Episode 2 may have connected to another Marvel property though, one which may be integrated into the MCU proper sooner rather than later.
Echoes of Violence
After a confrontation with the Tracksuit Mafia goes awry, Clint and Kate find themselves all tied up with some spring riders and ugly affairs. The duo is told that they're "in trouble now, bro," before the camera cuts to the trouble awaiting them.
Viewers are greeted by Alaqua Cox's Echo, surrounded by loudspeakers in a room drenched in red. One of the thugs enters to tell Echo that "we have them both" in an enunciated fashion, before Cox's character gestures him away. It seems that Echo will be positioned as the Tracksuit Mafia's head honcho here, a title that the character does not hold in the comics.
For those unaware, Echo, also known as Maya Lopez, is a deaf character in the pages of Marvel Comics who is a highly skilled acrobat and hand-to-hand combatant, often being a supporting character for Daredevil. With Eternals having just introduced another deaf character through Makkari, Marvel Studios is continuing to strive for representation for even more social groups. Fans are given a small glimpse at Echo's disability in Hawkeye, implied by her feeling the vibrations of the speakers and silently ordering her lackeys around.
It is likely that this will be elaborated on in subsequent episodes, particularly since Clint's ability to use American Sign Language is hinted towards when his son Nate signs "I love you" to him earlier in the episode. As the Tracksuit Mafia seems to have limited knowledge of ASL, Hawkeye's skill for signing may be how he initially connects with Echo to convince her to let them go or distract her long enough to escape.
Taking the Ronin Mantle from Hawkeye
The Ronin identity was an ongoing thread throughout both premiere episodes, which also has a key connection to Echo's comic book incarnation. Maya Lopez was actually the first individual to don the Ronin mantle, working under the title before her true identity was revealed.
Considering Echo was the originator for Ronin, perhaps there is a chance that the character could eventually take the mantle for herself.
Despite having villainous roots in the comics, Echo eventually becomes more of a heroic figure, which could be the arc that leads into the character's solo Disney+ series. Though Ronin's reputation has been somewhat besmirched in the MCU, Echo could potentially take on the mantle to rebrand herself as a hero. Alternatively, Lopez may continue down a treacherous path, using the Ronin identity to cause even more havoc in New York City. That is if Echo can get to the Ronin costume first.
Daredevil and Kingpin on the Way?
Perhaps the most notable aspect of Echo's character is her link to Daredevil and Kingpin. In the comics, Wilson Fisk is Echo's adoptive father, taking her in after killing her birth father Crazy Horse. Echo is sent by Kingpin to take out Daredevil but refuses after finding out that Matt Murdock is underneath the cowl. Feeling betrayed by Fisk, Echo goes off to do some soul-searching to reconcile with her actions.
Echo's MCU introduction doesn't shy away from her Daredevil connections whatsoever, with the red lighting almost certainly being a callback to the striking visuals of Netflix's Daredevil. Word on whether Daredevil, Kingpin, and co. will make their MCU debuts is still uncertain, though rumors may indicate that the return of Daredevil's cast is just on the horizon.
Charlie Cox's Matt Murdock is heavily rumored to be teaming up with Peter Parker in Spider-Man: No Way Home, finally giving Spidey the chance to team up with the Devil of Hell's Kitchen on-screen. Rumors also indicate that Kingpin may be joining her adoptive daughter for Hawkeye, with rumblings suggesting that Vincent D'Onofrio will be making a return as Wilson Fisk.
The timing of Hawkeye's release and the placement of the show in the MCU timeline may support this occurring. If Daredevil is in fact in No Way Home, Hawkeye has two prime opportunities to reintroduce Kingpin with an episode on either side of the Spider-Man threequel's December 17, 2021 release date. Marvel could tease Matt Murdock's return with a Kingpin reveal in Episode 5 of Hawkeye, or could use a Daredevil appearance in No Way Home to tee up Wilson Fisk's MCU return in Clint Barton's finale instead.
Hawkeye also takes place two years after Avengers: Endgame, which seems to be a while after the Multiversal shenanigans of No Way Home. Spider-Man's third solo outing takes place, at least in part, shortly after Spider-Man: Far From Home, which occurs around eight months after the fourth Avengers film. This provides plenty of time in-universe for any Multiversal effects to ripple out, enabling the Daredevil cast to reprise their roles.
If Kingpin does eventually rear his head in Hawkeye, the show could be positioning Echo as one of the leaders of Fisk's criminal underworld. This could result in Clint and Kate crossing paths with Kingpin or may lead into the fracturing of Fisk and Lopez' relationship at the tail end of Hawkeye, paving the way for Echo to dismantle her adoptive father's criminal empire in her own show.
With most of the main cast of Daredevil also rumored to appear in Disney+'s Echo series, perhaps Lopez could instead maintain her villainous leanings and replicate her comic book storyline by going after the Devil of Hell's Kitchen. This would enable Marvel Studios to bring back Daredevil characters without having them overshadow Echo's own series, allowing Alaqua Cox's character to establish herself in the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Ultimately, the arrival of Echo is incredibly exciting, not only for her Kingpin connections and Depeche Mode needle drops but also for what she brings to the MCU in terms of her diverse background and unique character traits. Hopefully, the next few episodes of Hawkeye will demonstrate just why Maya Lopez is deserving of her own Disney+ series.
The first two episodes of Hawkeye are streaming exclusively on Disney+.