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Hawkeye's mystery watch has been claimed, but a new canon conundrum has spawned
With nothing but a symbol and a number, we've got a brand new MCU canon mini-crisis. Kind of.
One mystery ends only for another mystery to immediately take its place. The finale of Hawkeye was satisfying on every level, but it got in one final parting shot in terms of "what is canon/what is not" in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
From the first episode on, there was much ado about a watch that was salvaged from the destroyed Avengers HQ. Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) was concerned about the watch, because it held secrets to the identity of a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. His wife, Laura (Linda Cardellini), took an unexpected interest in the watch a couple of episodes later. She didn't tell him to get his arrow-shaped butt back to their farm for Christmas, she told him to get that watch.
The reason for that was revealed in the finale, but the nature of the reveal left us thinking.
**SPOILER WARNING! From this point forward, there will be spoilers for the finale of Hawkeye. If you haven't seen it yet, then speed away from here, bro.**
Clint and Kate (Hailee Steinfeld) arrive at the Barton farm on Christmas Day. There are presents all around, but Clint has a special gift for Laura. It's the mystery watch. She didn't want it back because she liked the way it set off her wrist.
Laura turns the watch over, and it has the insignia of S.H.I.E.L.D. on the back. No problem, Laura must have been another agent, and that's how she met Clint. She got out of the game and this was all a part of Nick Fury hiding her and the secret farm that her and the family live on. Get excited for the MCU prequel, Secret Farm.
The insignia isn't the only thing on the back of the watch, though. The number "19" is also seen, which could be a direct reference to "Agent 19." In Marvel Comics, that is a codename of an agent named Bobbi Morse. Her more popular codename is "Mockingbird."
So... does this reveal mean that Laura Barton is really Bobbi Morse, and that Hawkeye married Mockingbird? It's not as simple as that, and here's where the dreaded question of MCU canon comes up. Bobbi "Mockingbird" Morse has already appeared on a series directly tied to the MCU, that series being Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
She was played by Adrianne Palicki, and fans loved her. She only lasted a few seasons before she left to attempt a spin-off which was to feature both Bobbi and her romantic partner Lance Hunter (Nick Blood). That series was never picked up, and though we saw Hunter on Agents again, Bobbi never returned.
Now we're at the dreaded "Is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. canon?" question. It was a show that was directly connected in the beginning, long before both Disney+ and the shows on Netflix. The first couple of seasons tied in to the movies of the MCU directly, but then somewhere around Thanos' invasion (which was mentioned on the series) the characters started hopping through time and it disconnected entirely. Events such as The Blip are never referenced on the series, leading some to think that the agents possibly switched over to another timeline at some point. If they did, no one calls it out.
The MCU could be saying that Laura is Bobbi and snapping the Bobbi that we already have, but not necessarily. For one thing, Laura never says that the watch belongs to her. It could still be Bobbi's watch, and Laura is just protecting it for her. Whether she's Bobbi or not, Laura being a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent makes perfect sense.
Also, she could have gone by "Agent 19" before Bobbi did. For all we know she could be Bobbi's sister, Laura Morse, taking care of Bobbi's secrets because Bobbi is still off the grid with Lance Hunter. Or, it's just as simple as it looks: No one working in the MCU cares about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Laura is now Bobbi in the MCU, and the watch belongs to her. If she ever returns to active service, someone will call her Mockingbird and she'll wield double batons.
Like the Netflix shows, references to the larger MCU on Agents was always a one-way street. You never saw Chloe Bennet show up in a movie as Daisy Johnson, for example. And when Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) did return for Captain Marvel, it was because the movie took place in an earlier timeline.
What does all of this add up to? If you're asking us, it's "the mystery of the watch has been solved, long live the mystery of the watch." Clint gives it to Laura and we see the back of it. There's a number. He doesn't go on to say, "Merry Christmas Bobbi, you're one hell of a Mockingbird to me babe."
Until something like that is said, the debate about whether or not Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is being ignored will go on. Daisy Johnson, played by Bennet, showing up on Secret Invasion would help to sort that out. Palicki's Morse coming to get the watch from Laura in Hawkeye 2: The More You Bro would help sort it out even more.
In the meantime, Laura got a used watch for Christmas. We hope that Clint also went to Jared on his way back home.
All episodes of Hawkeye are now streaming on Disney+.