Kate Bishop’s mysterious aunt in Hawkeye seems sweet. “M. Brandon” lives in modestly sized apartment somewhere in the Generic Walk-Up (GenWU) neighborhood of downtown Manhattan. The place is cluttered with tchotchkes, decorated with memories, and is appropriately overstuffed with pots, pans, and other necessities. It’s a New York life, only understood to outsiders through accumulation.
Funny enough, Moira Brandon is an actual character from the comics, one who first appeared alongside Hawkeye in West Coast Avengers back in the 1990s. And the apartment is a perfect tip of the hat from Hawkeye’s writers. Moira isn’t home when Kate and Clint first get to her apartment in Hawkeye episode 2 — naturally, she winters in Florida — but her place is one big comic nod.
Moira, it turns out, was a B-movie actress in her younger days, and she wears the legacy with pride in the form of movie poster art. Besides A Chance for Love (above), which sounds like a bit more of a romp than Moira’s other work, we see Creature of the Dark Galaxy, a Marvel Cinematic Universe-creation that you bet Steve Rogers would have been lined up for day one if he’d been around for release.
We also get a glimpse of a poster for The Savage Hyrax, which is especially frightening considering hyraxes are herbivorous!
Moira also appears to keep a headshot of her older self on the wall. Perhaps as a form of inspiration to give her confidence in present day auditions? Go get ‘em, Moira!
In episode 2, Clint asks, “Are there cats in here?” To which Kate replies, “Just cat hair.” Everything begins to make sense when we get this shot of a cat poster on the wall (and our main actress, sure, but let’s focus on the cat on the wall).
This is old lady 101, complete with an old television that could not possibly connect to a DVD player that would allow Moira to enjoy her vast collection of standard-definition films. Marvel will have to introduce Forge into the MCU just deal with the RCA cables on this thing.
All of this adds up to an extended cameo by someone who will likely never appear in the actual Hawkeye show. But it’s true to the character. In Avengers West Coast (Vol. 2) #100, Moira is a golden age starlet who’s down in her luck, a Norma Desmond-type who is easily threatened by the villain Crossfire, who asks her to user her influence to get Hawkeye and his wife Mockingbird to buy her mansion as a home base for the West Coast Avengers. Comics!
But Moira doesn’t want to be a pawn in some diabolical scheme. In fact, she’s always wanted to be brave — so she picks up a goddam crossbow and gets it done! And then nearly faints away.
The entire episode takes place in flashback, and when the action returns to present-day Clint, he’s in tears remembering how happy Moira’s final years were after she realized the bravery was insider her all along. He even made her an honorary West Coast Avenger. Nice guy.
There seems to be very little chance that the Moira of Kate Bishop’s family tree will also shoot a man in the chest before becoming a founding member of the West Coast Avengers, but weirder things have happened. With suspicions rising over Kate’s mom as a potential evil-doer — do we really think Jack Duquesne is capable of being the ultimate villain lurking in the shadows? — we may get a physical appearance by Moira sometime before the last two episodes to clarify where the family stands when the dust settles. And hey, Marvel obviously cast someone to get that headshot.
But do we really want to meet Moira? While the comeback story of an aging actor sounds ripe for the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s televisions, one frame in Hawkeye left me a little dubious. Like many septuagenarians in the last decade, Moira seems to have gotten into some strange politics, likely thanks to haphazard social media use. I don’t know why she owns a “Thanos Was Right” mug, and I don’t know if I want to know.