Hawkeye: A Marvel TV show about a superhero with impostor syndrome

By Michael Baggs
Newsbeat reporter

Image source, Marvel Studios

Who's the best Avenger? No shade, but when it comes to the Marvel movies, you're probably not going to find many people who'll pick the guy with the bow and arrow.

But that's one of the things explored in new Disney+ TV show, Hawkeye, where the Avengers' archer finally gets his shot at the spotlight.

The series marks 10 years of Jeremy Renner playing Hawkeye/Clint Barton.

"I love the idea that Clint is a guy that has been elevated to the status of Avenger but is a human, and I think feels that insecurity and reality," director and executive producer Rhys Thomas tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

"It's about a man dealing with his self worth and almost an element of impostor syndrome.

"That was part of the fun - coming in and dealing with that identity of Hawkeye being the thing that you're defined by - but knowing the reality inside."

Impostor syndrome is when someone continually doubts their own skills, expertise and achievements - usually despite evidence to suggest they're actually quite good at what they do.

Jeremy says these are the reasons why Hawkeye is such a relatable character to fans of the franchise.

"I've always loved how he anchors the fantasy of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) because he's a superhero without superpowers," Jeremy tells Newsbeat.

"It's why they're fighting in the first place - because he has his family and kids."

This time around, while the big-name Avengers are absent, Hawkeye teams up with franchise newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, who plays crackshot Kate Bishop.

Kate's a Hawkeye super-fan and a keen archer herself.

A flashback at the start of episode one shows Kate witnessing the events of the first Avengers movie as a child, seeing Hawkeye help save New York from an alien invasion.

Image source, Marvel Studios
Image caption,
Actress and singer Hailee Steinfeld makes her Marvel debut in the Hawkeye series

They team up in this new series, with Clint Barton acting as a mentor to the young fan and potential future Avenger.

"I felt like there was a similar dynamic between Kate and Clint as there was between us personally," Hailee tells Newsbeat.

"I was very excited and very at the ready constantly for whatever was thrown my way - very much like Kate."

Who is Kate Bishop?

Kate Bishop has been a character in the Marvel comics since 2005 - eventually taking over the role of Hawkeye in some of their storylines.

She was a member of the Young Avengers, a team of teenage heroes with similar powers and abilities to the ones fans know from the MCU movies.

Some of these heroes have already been seen in previous Marvel shows (Wiccan and Speed in Wandavision) and will be seen in future productions (Ms Marvel).

Jeremy describes shooting the six-hour series as "a little more arduous" than making a movie, but even after a decade in this role, saying he loves what he's doing and who he's doing it with.

"I enjoy the hell out of this character, this world, this job and the blessings of doing it," he says.

"There's a lot of curveballs that get thrown your way in this this kind of storytelling and I certainly don't need Hailee feeling like she's a fish out of water.

"'She'll ask: 'Is this normal?' And I'll say: 'I know, it doesn't make any sense, but just keep moving forward, all we have is each other'."

Image source, Marvel Studios
Image caption,
Jeremy Renner, now a Marvel veteran, made his MCU debut in the first Thor movie in 2011

Hailee's no stranger to blockbuster productions, having previously taken the lead role in 2018 Transformers spin-off Bumblebee, but working on Hawkeye was an opportunity for the Oscar-nominee to flex her action-movie credentials - and of course, kick some butt.

"I loved that this role has required so much physical preparation between the archery, stunt training and the different types of fight choreography," she says.

"One of my favourite parts was being in that stunt room and picking up all of this new skill.

"I would catch him [Jeremy] in the stunt room and be absolutely terrified in the best way. He might as well be a martial artist."

Jeremy, however, hints that he's just using his own acting skills to pretend like he knows what he's doing in the fight scenes.

"A lot of this is very physical and there's a lot of time spent in the gym," he adds.

"But, heck, it's just a lot of fun. I mean, whether you're good at or not, you gotta look like you're good at it."

'Like John McClane in Die Hard'

Hawkeye follows previous Marvel TV shows about its Avengers cast (Wandavision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki) which have been huge streaming hits in 2021.

Aside from the on-screen chemistry between Clint and Kate and the show's lightweight, fun tone, there's one other thing that clearly sets Hawkeye apart from its predecessors - it's set at Christmas.

And Rhys Thomas isn't afraid of opening a festive can of worms about that set-up.

"I'm a sucker for Christmas movies and my mind immediately went to Die Hard," he says.

"I know there's some debate that some people don't consider it a Christmas movie, but that tantalised me and I saw Clint Barton very much as a John McClane character."

"It's a joyous time of year, it brings a level of warmth, and it's also like this merry time of year to watch someone going through such a challenging series of events."

Hawkeye is streaming now on Disney+.

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