The MCU has had a huge last couple of weeks with Hawkeye finishing up on Disney+ and Spider-Man: No Way Home accruing massive box office numbers in theaters worldwide. A day before No Way Home officially hit theaters, Episode 5 of Hawkeye finally revealed the long-awaited return of Vincent D'Onofrio's Kingpin, who was last seen in Netflix's Daredevil series.
D'Onofrio's return as Kingpin in Hawkeye was teased all throughout the show. Lines of dialogue, such as Jeremy Renner's Clint Barton referring to a character he called "the big guy," led fans to believe that the true behind-the-scenes villain of the show was Kingpin. In Episode 5, Kingpin's first on-screen appearance occurred at the end of the episode, where D'Onofrio could clearly be seen talking to Vera Farmiga's Eleanor Bishop, the mother of Hailee Steinfeld's Kate Bishop.
The season finale opened with Kingpin being the first character to appear on-screen. He played a major role throughout the rest of the episode, which ended with a cliffhanger that has fans wondering if he survived two gunshots from Alaqua Cox's Maya Lopez.
Along with Kingpin's return, Charlie Cox's Matt Murdock, also known as Daredevil, made his MCU debut in an early scene in Spider-Man: No Way Home. Cox hadn't been seen in the role since portraying the character alongside D'Onofrio in Daredevil, and many fans wondered if their appearances being so close together was something that had been planned by Marvel Studios.
Marvel Planned Daredevil and Kingpin's Returns
In a recent interview with Variety, Hawkeye director Rhys Thomas touched on the process of bringing Kingpin into the show, specifically revealing if Marvel Studios had a hand in his return due to Matt Murdock's nearby appearance Spider-Man: No Way Home.
When asked if Kingpin serving as the main villain for the series was something he planned "from the start," Thomas revealed that the character "was not on the cusp" in the original plan for the show, but that "his presence was never far." Thomas also stated that it was Marvel Studios' idea to finally bring him into the series:
"The Kingpin of it all was not on the cusp when I started the show, but I feel like his presence was never far. Like, we were always circling this other 'big bad guy,' but there was a moment when a Marvel executive came over and said, 'You know, this is what we’re gonna do about that.'"
The director claimed to not know about the "larger plan" to have Hawkeye bleed into No Way Home from the Daredevil/Kingpin connection. Thomas revealed that the studio "only give(s) you the information" that you need to know:
"As far as a larger plan and a crossover with Spider-Man: No Way Home, I did not know that they would do that. They do a wonderful job at Marvel of keeping everybody quite siloed, and I think they do this for your own security. People seem to sort of assume that there is this room where everything is all mapped out, but, no, they keep you kind of focused on your own show and only give you the information that they feel they need to give."
The Introduction of Daredevil Characters
Daredevil was such a hit on Netflix's streaming service during its three-season run from 2016-2018 that many fans believed it was inevitable for the characters to come into the MCU after Disney and Marvel Studios acquired the rights to everyone in the show.
The rivalry between Daredevil and Kingpin was the series' central focus seeing as how Vincent D'Onofrio appeared in 27 of the show's 39 episodes. Fans are accustomed to the characters being strongly connected with one another, and at this point, it is hard to imagine one appearing in a universe without the other.
However, most viewers couldn't have predicted that they would be making their debuts in separate projects that were so different, yet so connected. The entirety of Hawkeye takes place in New York City, which is not only the same place that Spider-Man lives but also the same location where a large portion of No Way Home takes place.
Charlie Cox's return as Matt Murdock in No Way Home was only for one scene, but it is clear that Marvel Studios wanted the two projects to each feature one of Daredevil's two biggest characters. This not only strengthened the relationships and the plot of the two projects but also set up a future film or series that will take place in New York where the two will finally meet for the first time in the MCU.