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What's up with Hawkeye’s Kate Bishop, and why is she important to the MCU?

Clint Barton’s protégé and successor finally enters the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

By Brian Silliman
Hawkeye Still

Clench up, Legolas — there’s a new archer coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The upcoming Disney+ series Hawkeye will focus on Clint “Hawkeye” Barton (Jeremy Renner), but a new hero named Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) will also be sharing the spotlight and arrow-shooting duties.

Fans of Marvel Comics are already familiar with Bishop; she’s been around on the printed page for more than 15 years. This will be her first live-action jaunt, however, so before she comes swinging in to Clint’s life, let’s go through what we know about her and why she’s important. 

Created by Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung, Katherine Bishop first appeared in Young Avengers #1 in 2005. She’s from Manhattan, and she comes from money. Kate always tried to get her father’s attention, and her mother Eleanor died when Kate was young. Vera Farmiga is set to play Eleanor Bishop on the series, so this comic detail will probably be altered somehow… or maybe not. It could get, um, vampiric. More on that later. 

Hawkeye Still

Kate stopped caring about her father’s approval after she watched him beat someone up. She was captured by the criminal El Matador, but thankfully the Avengers saved her. She was particularly impressed with Hawkeye, as he was formidable without the aid of superpowers. Kate decided to look up to Clint Barton instead of her father. 

Following more disillusionment with her family, she sought both therapy and archery training — especially after suffering an assault in Central Park. One of the only people Bishop confided with about that trauma was Jessica Jones. 

Bishop first encountered the Young Avengers when the team tried (and failed) to save the wedding of Kate’s sister, Susan. Kate and Cassie Lang then proceeded to find the young team right before they were all attacked by Kang the Conqueror; Kate and Cassie pretty much just told the Young Avengers that they were a part of their team. All of this took place in what used to be Avengers Mansion, where Kate found (and used) one of Clint’s bows. 

Following Kang’s defeat, Kate and Cassie became members of the team. Captain America and Iron Man ordered the Young Avengers to stop being a thing, but Kate used her family’s money to help keep them on track. Jessica Jones was the one who eventually passed the name “Hawkeye” on to Kate, as Clint was dead during this period. He got better. 

This is the real reason why Kate Bishop is so important. Jeremy Renner’s contract for playing Clint Barton isn’t going to last forever; Kate Bishop, played by Steinfeld, will likely be groomed to be his MCU successor. 

Kate was on Captain America’s side during Civil War, and she fought with the rest of the Young Avengers during Secret Invasion. At the end of Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #9, the Young Avengers are disbanded and any members left alive became part of the regular Avengers. 

Hawkeye #1 Comic Cover 2012

The real magic for Hawkeye happened in the classic Hawkeye comic from Matt Fraction and David Aja, which began in 2012. Clint Barton was alive again, and he tried his hand at being a street-level hero. Fighting for the common man, and his fellow tenants, in a run-down apartment building that would become the target of a variety of criminals. Soon, Kate joins up with Barton, and though they’re both technically Hawkeye, they have a mentor/student dynamic. This particular comic run is beloved by many (with good reason), and a lot of the run’s DNA looks like it will make its way into the new show. 

Bishop went on to have experiences with all kinds of Marvel characters, including Old Man Logan, America Chavez, and Gwen Poole. The latter character befriended Kate, once referring to her as “the better Hawkeye.” Having relocated to LA after Civil War II, Kate invited Gwen to join the West Coast Avengers, a group that included Clint, Fuse, Chavez, and more. The group was funded by a reality show. 

In the alternate Ultimate Marvel universe, Kate and her family were members of HYDRA. She also dates Miles Morales, and after he tells her the truth of his identity, she blabs the secret to her family. This revelation forces her father to kidnap Miles, who is then tortured by Kate’s dad and Doctor Doom. Miles eventually escaped and had to break up with Kate.  

She’s still alive and kicking in the main comics timeline, however. Like Clint, she has no superpowers. What she does have is a particular set of skills, which she has worked her butt off to attain. Archery is obviously dominant, but she’s also quite effective in a variety of martial arts. (She’s wielded Mockingbird’s twin staves on more than one occasion.)

How much of this history will end up on the series? As we’ve said, the mentor/student dynamic of Clint and Kate from the Fraction/Aja run is almost a no-brainer, as every trailer for the show has showcased it. The big potential difference for the series is that Kate is not a known hero by the time she crosses paths with Barton. He won’t be rebuilding his life after resurrection, but he will be having to deal with the murder spree that he went on during the five years of the Blip. 

The MCU is in the process of bringing in the next generation, and Kate is a pivotal part of that transition. She’s an a**kicker, and she’s surely going to be taking on the mantle of Hawkeye just like she did in the comics. Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) is gonna come calling in the new series, and she’s an a**kicker for the next generation, too. When the new Black Widow goes up against the new Hawkeye, it’ll be a whole new Budapest.  

All of this is important enough, but there could be one other reason why Kate and her family are vital additions. In the comics, Eleanor Bishop was eventually revealed to be alive because she was, in fact, a vampire. Normally, we’d say that the series would never go that crazy, but thanks to Eternals, Blade has already landed in the MCU. Vera Farmiga would make a great vampire mom. When it comes to Phase 4, dare to dream.  

Kate Bishop will reign when Hawkeye streams November 24th on Disney+.