Marvel Studios officially completed its 2021 slate of projects that kicked off Phase 4 of the MCU in December, finishing with the sixth and final episode of Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye on Disney+. The series delivered exciting new reveals on a weekly basis, with characters like Florence Pugh's Yelena Belova and Vincent D'Onofrio's Kingpin making a massive impact on a relatively grounded MCU story.
As is the case with every Marvel Studios entry, Hawkeye was shrouded in secrecy to make sure that the show's classic MCU-level reveals made the most impact possible with each week's adventures. Even with fans well aware of roles for Yelena and Kingpin along with the presence of Alaqua Cox's Echo and the Tracksuit Mafia, Marvel found a way to keep Hawkeye's secrets largely under wraps until they premiered in full.
One secret that proved more difficult than others to keep was D'Onofrio's return as Kingpin, which was largely due to D'Onofrio himself not exactly being subtle about his casting with Marvel Studios. With the rumor about Kingpin's return in Hawkeye from last Summer, D'Onofrio found a way to fan the flames at almost every turn as the show began airing on Disney+.
Once Episode 3 debuted in early December, D'Onofrio all but confirmed that his Kingpin would become MCU canon with cryptic tweets about the show's mysterious "uncle," commenting on the show on numerous occasions. Along with multiple comments from Clint Barton about somebody running the Tracksuits from the top, it seemed to be only a matter of time before the "big guy" came out of the shadows.
As it turns out, this made the production team's job that much more of a challenge in order to give the Kingpin his due time in the spotlight the right way.
Hawkeye Director on Keeping Kingpin Secret
Speaking with Collider, Hawkeye director Rhys Thomas looked back on the challenges of keeping Vincent D'Onofrio's return as Wilson Fisk in the show's final two episodes.
When asked how difficult it was to keep the reveal from becoming public, Thomas admitted that there was something of a "policy of never mentioning him by name" on set, almost akin to Voldemort from the Harry Potter franchise. He also admitted that Marvel was particularly adamant about keeping the secret, which was done for the fans to make sure it made the right impact.
"It was really hard. It was really hard. It was almost a policy of never mentioning him by name. He became the Voldemort of us. He would arrive in a Voldemort-like cloak, he'd walk between his trailer and set covered in this thing and everything was closed. It was one of those things too where they were so on top of keeping it secret. Again, it is done for the fans, because it's going to be so much more impactful if no one sees this coming."
The director also referenced D'Onofrio's suspicious social media activity, which encouraged discussion that spoiled D'Onofrio's return as Kingpin. In Thomas' case, he simply tried to "block it out" and do his best to not say anything about what was coming:
"I think there were some moments when I feel like Vincent tripped once on Twitter, he posted something that got people a little... And some people knew and people were talking about it. I just had a policy, I didn't mention it in front of my kids, I didn't mention it in front... You just don't, just block it out of your mind, that's what's happening. It was tough, they wanted him to do it. It was hard. This whole process was an education in secrecy."
D'Onofrio Can't Stop, Won't Stop Kingpin Teases
With Hawkeye bringing in a character from Marvel's popular Netflix shows for the first time, Kingpin's finale appearance was clearly a reveal that Marvel wanted to break the internet when it fully came to fruition in Episode 5. While D'Onofrio isn't the first MCU actor to come dangerously close to spoiling a plot point (see Tom Holland and Mark Ruffalo), his inclusion in the canon story came with a different kind of excitement.
Now, the next mystery is where and when D'Onofrio's Kingpin will come into play in the MCU's future, particularly with the current assumption that Maya Lopez shot him at the end of Episode 6. D'Onofrio's social media presence will be something interesting to keep an eye on in that regard, although it should only be a matter of time before his next project becomes official.