Hawkeye is filled with many Easter eggs and references to the Infinity Saga, but it also has several teases about the MCU's future. The Disney+ series follows Clint Barton's story after Avengers: Endgame as he tries to leave his superhero life behind him. However, Kate Bishop's sudden arrival forced him to confront his past as Ronin, drawing out forces such as the Tracksuit Mafia and Black Widow's Yelena Belova.
Throughout the show's first four episodes, Hawkeye presented numerous ties to the Battle of New York, Thanos' snap, the Blip, and Endgame's ramifications to the rest of the world. The series also included comic-book homages to Matt Fraction and David Aja's Marvel Comics run and even a musical that honors Chris Evans' Steve Rogers.
Aside from the Easter eggs, Hawkeye also pushed the narrative forward by introducing Clint's hearing loss, thus allowing the character to be close to his comic book persona.
Now, as Hawkeye inches closer to its finale, another major reference was included that could shed some light on another MCU project.
Hawkeye's No Way Home Connection (Explained)
Warning - This section contains spoilers for Episode 5 of Hawkeye.
Hawkeye Episode 5 showcased the first-ever conversation between Hailee Steinfeld's Kate Bishop and Florence Pugh's Yelena Belova.
Upon her return to her apartment, Kate was surprised by Yelena, with the latter already waiting for the young hero in the shadows.
Yelena tells Kate that she is not there to kill her. Instead, the Black Widow agent offers a casual dinner by preparing mac-and-cheese.
During their conversation, Yelena explains to Kate that she has no intentions to kill her on the rooftop since she merely wanted her out of harm's way. This prompts Kate to ask Yelena what she really wants.
Yelena admits that it's her first time in New York, but her "time is limited." The Black Widow assassin then mentioned the things that she want to see in the city such as the Empire State Building and the new and improved Statue of Liberty:
Kate: "So what do you want?"
Yelena: "Well... It's my first time in New York! But it's a business trip so time is limited, but I do want to see some things. I want to see the Empire State Building, the new and improved Statue of Liberty, and the Rockefeller Center."
Yelena's mention of the "new and improved Statue of Liberty" is a reference to Spider-Man: No Way Home since the film's trailer confirmed that it will be the setting of a major battle.
In No Way Home's second trailer, the Statue of Liberty is shown several times such as this brief shot of Tom Holland's Peter Parker standing inside the infrastructure.
The trailer's money shot also shows Lizard, Sandman, and Electro attacking Spider-Man in the Statue of Liberty:
The trailer also shows that part of the Statue of Liberty will be destroyed:
Is Hawkeye Set Before or After No Way Home?
Yelena's mention of the Statue of Liberty should fuel questions about Hawkeye's place during the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Upon closer inspection, Tom Holland's threequel appears to show that the Statue of Liberty is still under construction, as evidenced by the scaffoldings that are present in the infrastructure. It's also worth noting that the villains present in the presumed final battle will likely destroy most of the structure, meaning that the government would need to renovate it one way or another.
As a result, Yelena's "new and improved" comment could hint that New York City's government had already finished its repair, placing Hawkeye's events after Spider-Man: No Way Home.
This is pure speculation at this point, but connecting the dots through Yelena's remark and No Way Home's trailer footage presents solid evidence of this claim.
Meanwhile, many would agree that the chemistry between Florence Pugh and Hailee Steinfeld's MCU characters is top-notch, and it will be interesting to see how this intriguing bond will move forward.
At this stage, Yelena is likely poised to be Natasha Romanoff's predecessor while Kate is being set up as Clint's replacement as Hawkeye. In a way, the pair's conversation could be a preview of a deeper friendship, similar to Clint and Nat's strong bond.
This would be fitting since this could mean that the MCU's next Hawkeye and Black Widow would still be friends, thus honoring their predecessor's past.
Hawkeye Episode 5 is now streaming on Disney+. Spider-Man: No Way Home debuts in theaters on December 17, 2021.