Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is closing in at the end of its first calendar year.
2021 has introduced the next era of the MCU with a blend of propping up supporting characters into title roles and introducing new faces to the roster. Characters like Wanda Maximoff, Sam Wilson, and Loki have all taken the leap from sidekick characters to the faces of the franchise, while others like Monica Rambeau, John Walker, and Sylvie have lunged into the spotlight themselves in those respective projects.
After the Infinity Saga, the foundational heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe were placed on a veteran status that marked the back half of their run. Tony Stark, Captain America, and Black Widow all closed their books (for now) and opened the doors for new chapters with new heroes. Players like Thor, Hulk, and Clint Barton are all poised for leadership roles, ushering in the new guard.
Clint Barton is the final member of the original six Avengers to receive a title project. As much of the focus of the Hawkeye Disney+ series is to dive into a character in Clint that has been around for more than a decade, it is also equally focused on introducing the future of the sharpshooter franchise, Kate Bishop.
The disappearance of the guard is a constant theme of MCU Phase 4. Captain America, Black Widow, Loki, and now... Hawkeye.
We Need New Heroes
The Direct sat down with the executive producer for Hawkeye, Trinh Tran, to discuss what it is like to see the next batch of heroes be introduced into the MCU.
Tran is the perfect person to answer this question as she has been working on MCU projects ever since 2008's Iron Man, including the two biggest projects of the franchise for both the veteran and up-and-coming heroes, Infinity War and Endgame.
Tran stated that it's "nice" that Avengers heroes who have now "left" the MCU have received their due in the grand storytelling of the MCU. The producer emphasized that, as these new characters like Kate Bishop are brought into the fold, it's essential that the focus is put on their introductions instead of their futures:
"I don't want to use the word bitter-sweet, but it is nice that there are characters that we have told the stories about, who have left. And we are bringing in new characters into the fold. Wherever that leads, we'll find out. But the focus really is making sure we get Kate Bishop right in this story and how she is connected to Clint is really important from the start."
The Hawkeye mantle being passed in a show like this is an expert way to spotlight a veteran in the MCU while also highlighting the future of the IP. Phase 4 has handled this next generation of heroes with patience and charisma, just like it has handled everything else in the MCU.
Who Are the MCU's New Avengers?
After Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home, there was a contrast of feelings in the air. There was part satisfaction about the ending to one of, if not the best, cinematic stories ever told, and in part excitement about the variety of seeds being planted for the future and the next generation. This duality of storytelling is a feat of cinema to equally tie a knot while also introducing new threads.
Phase 4 has provided some incredible moments for the past, present, and future of the MCU. From WandaVision featuring a child character in Captain Marvel that went on to become a fan-favorite by the end of the series, to Loki using the next-gen version of the trickster to tell the story of Tom Hiddleston's character through a lens never seen before. And, of course, the story of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier showed Sam taking over the shield but what it means to do so. All of this happened with the dynamic factor of the government, Captain America, John Walker.
Oh, yeah, there's also a new Black Widow that is beloved worldwide without in Yelena Belova.
Those new or revamped characters are quickly becoming the face of the MCU, and it is seemingly happening overnight. That is all without mention of the new heroes introduced in movies like Shang-Chi and Eternals. The rookie class of 2021 is one of the best fans have ever seen and something that is shaping up to continue to be a force of nature as Phase 4 moves along.
The early reviews for Hawkeye wax poetic about the show's grounded feel and intimate character work. But more than anything, people seem to be head over heels for Hailee Steinfeld's Kate Bishop as the next generation's Hawkeye. This is just the latest example of Phase 4 doing a great job of both giving the veterans their due and giving the new guard major success.
Hawkeye premieres its first two episodes on Disney+ on November 24, 2021.