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Hawkeye’s surprise cameo has big implications for the MCU’s future

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Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye in Hawkeye. Image: Marvel Studios

The first season of Hawkeye has introduced numerous Marvel Comics characters to the Marvel Cinematic Universe for the first time — from Kate Bishop to Echo to Moira Brandon — and brought back some who’ve already gotten a foothold in the movie universe — like Yelena Belova.

This week, the episode’s final moments gave us one more continuity surprise, revealing less about the future of Hawkeye, and more about how Marvel Studios is considering the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for Hawkeye episode 5, “Ronin.”]

jeremy renner as ronin in avengers endgame Marvel Studios/Disney

For a few episodes now, Hawkeye has been teasing the reveal of Echo and Kazi’s boss, the will behind the Tracksuit Mafia’s takedown of the high-society auction Kate discovered in the first episode. “Ronin” provided two shockers: The Tracksuit Mafia reports to Kate’s mother, Eleanor Bishop, and Eleanor Bishop reports to none other than Wilson “The Kingpin” Fisk. Hawkeye’s Fisk is played, as he was in Netflix’s Daredevil series, by Vincent D’Onofrio — and that might be the real shocker.

Even though Netflix’s Marvel television shows (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and The Punisher) were intended to be a part of Marvel Cinematic Universe canon when Marvel Television partnered with Netflix to make them in 2013, they always seemed somewhat siloed away. And their status in the modern MCU has been anything but clear.

In late 2018, Disney announced plans to bring Disney Plus to subscribers in late 2019, and not too long after, Marvel Entertainment underwent a restructuring that moved its Marvel Television devision under the umbrella of the company’s movie division, Marvel Studios. Marvel TV vice president and Netflix-Marvel-shows-spearheader Jeph Loeb exited the company and over the course of 2019 Netflix announced the cancelation of every one of its Marvel Cinematic Universe shows.

Since then, fans haven’t heard a peep of news about the future of any of the Marvel Netflix characters within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, even as Disney has announced multiple waves of new Marvel TV series for Disney Plus.

Vincent D’Onofrio’s return to play Kingpin in Hawkeye truly comes out of the blue, and raises the immediate question: Who else from the Netflix shows can we expect to return to their characters? Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige recently confirmed that if the company were to do anything with Matt Murdock/Daredevil in the MCU, actor Charlie Cox, who portrayed him in the Daredevil Netflix series, would definitely return for it.

Cox’s return to Marvel productions has been widely rumored for months, from unsubstantiated leaks to fans who began comparing Cox’s arm hair with an arm that came into view in a Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer, and this week’s Hawkeye episode will undoubtedly fuel those hopes. Especially as the show even makes a reference to Spider-Man: No Way Home in this week’s episode.

In listing the sightseeing she wants to do in New York, Yelena mentions the “new and improved Statue of Liberty” — a set piece already seen in trailers for Spider-Man: No Way Home. Spider-Man: No Way Home hits theaters on Dec. 17th. As is the Marvel way, everything is connected.