The Success of Hawkeye Hinges on Kate Bishop and Clint Barton’s Friendship – IGN
The below Hawkeye feature is spoiler-free for the upcoming Disney+ series.
In issue #6 of Matt Fraction and David Aja’s acclaimed Hawkeye run, Clint Barton is preparing to jump ship. He’s gotten into trouble with his neighborhood thugs (the Tracksuit Mafia) resulting in the innocent tenants of his own building to be threatened, and he’s convinced the world would be better off without him. Enter Kate Bishop, who doesn’t waste time calling Clint out on his BS. She refuses to take his things and bluntly tells him that he’s wrong for leaving — not just that he’s wrong, but that he’s a coward who runs away from his problems. She puts him in his place, stands up to him, and gives him support while he’s wallowing in his worst headspace.
The moment between the two characters is one that, on the surface, seems like a dramatic interaction needed to spur the remaining events of the issue into action. But Clint and Kate’s relationship — its complexity, its foundation, and how it’s portrayed — represents so much more than a narrative turning point. It represents a friendship that’s real, relatable, and genuine.
And it’s what viewers will find themselves drawn to when they tune into Disney+’s Hawkeye series.
Hawkeye is already a unique Phase 4 show in many ways. It’s the MCU’s first “street-level” show since Netflix’s series, The Defenders, bringing the action and drama to a place that resonates more with the average audience member than mystical timelines and supernatural powers do. It’s also an MCU property set during Christmas. And with the show’s depiction of Clint and Kate, it’s proving to be unique in another way — the way it depicts a superhero relationship.
Over the course of six episodes, fans will follow the grumpy Avenger dad and spunky do-gooder archer as they navigate threats, unexpected surprises, and setbacks. Their relationship is a focal point, just as it was in the comic that the show is drawing most of its inspiration from. When Fraction and Aja’s Hawkeye debuted in 2012, it brought new life to these characters by introducing a fresh take on Clint and Kate. Part of this fresh take (and a reason that the story became so beloved among fans) included depicting a genuine, sometimes imperfect relationship between two superheroes who had the honor of sharing the same unique name and skill set.
The two characters represented something that everyone could relate to — that is, a mutual respect grounded in a friendship where people are comfortable enough to understand the most important parts of each other. It’s the kind of bond we don’t see in the superhero world often, if at all; these characters usually aren’t known for their relationships unless it’s part of a team or they’re romantically involved (or mortal enemies.)
But Clint and Kate are none of those things. What they are is partners. They’re friends, confidants, mentors, and equals who aren’t afraid to call each other out on their faults or mistakes. They may not always agree, but they support each other unconditionally. They believe in one another even when things get hard — especially when things get hard. And although they routinely tangle in each other’s lives and always prove they’re “better together,” they also exist as their own individual personalities. Clint is allowed to feel down about himself and have bad days, while Kate is allowed to make mistakes due to her recklessness.
In the same way that the MCU has changed over the years, so has its audience. Gone are the days the world only wanted to see recognizable superheroes like Iron Man or Thor or Captain America. Gone are also the days when MCU content would tell by-the-book stories, void of any experimentation or originality. Over the span of a decade, fans new and old have brought with them a specific passion for the heroes they see on screen: a passion to see people like themselves, whether that’s through race, gender, or friendships. And while the word “buddy comedy” tends to be thrown around when it comes to quirky and quippy team-ups in the MCU, Hawkeye might be the first to properly acknowledge the term in the way it was meant to be acknowledged: two opposing on-screen dynamics who, despite their personality differences, have a healthy love and respect for each other.
Kate may be young. She may be reckless. But she’s caring and strong and opinionated, and she’s got a lot to teach Clint — who’s also got a lot he can learn from her. As the comic proves, you learn how to be a better person from the people around you — the ones who give you chances to find yourself. And as we see through the friendship of Clint Barton and Kate Bishop, if you have someone like that in your life, you can truly embrace the best parts of being a superhero.