How the Hawkeye show fits into MCU Phase 4 and beyond

Kate Bishop (as played by Hailee Steinfeld) and Yelena Belova (as played by Florence Pugh)
(Image credit: Disney/Marvel)

Hawkeye is coming to Disney Plus and much like Black Widow before it, it may not look like a show about what's to come in Phase 4 of the MCU — but it is. Or at least we think Hawkeye is going to give us a big piece of what's to come in the world of Marvel movies, while possibly saying farewell to one of its established veterans.

On paper, though, Hawkeye is an action comedy series set in New York City at Christmastime. Or as I called it when the trailer came out, "Die Hard with bows and arrows." The entry-point, as its title suggests, is through Clint Barton, the last original Avenger to have a feature project (minus Mark Ruffalo, whose Hulk technically had an MCU debut in 2008's The Incredible Hulk).

But Hawkeye's importance to the MCU isn't about Jeremy Renner at all. It's about giving us a pillar of the next Avengers team, which MCU Phase 4 appears to be building. 

Beware: Spoilers for all things that have happened in MCU shows and movies, including Black Widow, are below.

The introduction of your next favorite MCU hero

Hailee Steinfeld and Jeremy Renner, who will play Kate Bishop and Clint Barton/Hawkeye in the Hawkeye Disney Plus show

(Image credit: Gregg DeGuire and Frazer Harrison / Getty)

The big story with the Hawkeye show is setting up the heir apparent to the bow and arrow: Kate Bishop. Played by Hailee Steinfeld (Dickinson, Bumblebee), the Kate Bishop in the Hawkeye trailer appears to be a wanna-be Hawkeye who attracts a lot of media attention — and that of Mr. Barton as well. The media finds the masked Bishop and think she could be the returning Hawkeye and then Clint goes off to find her.

When they meet, Bishop identifies herself as "the world's greatest archer." Clint is suspicious of who else thinks so, but the two look like they're about to form a mentor/mentee partnership.

And this is all what we expected. Once Bishop's character was announced for the show, it was clear that Marvel Studios may have been using the Matt Fraction run of Hawkeye, the perfect source material for a story about Barton, who doesn't have a whole lot of beloved and iconic runs. 

And then this would suggest that Bishop will become the new Hawkeye. But is this Hawkeye going to roll with a crew?

Avengers 5 is in the distance for Kate Bishop

Kate Bishop's importance is for the future. Right now, Marvel is in a rebuilding process, much like a sports team after its aging vets retire. And they are going into overdrive in their rebuilding mode, for the biggest un-announced Marvel movie we expect in Phase 4 or 5 of the MCU: Avengers 5 movie. "But, wait?" I hear you ask, "the Avengers are over, right?" 

If you look at the original mainline Avengers crew, I won't dispute that. R.I.P. Tony Stark and Black Widow, Thor seems to be off on his own (Jane's reportedly picking up Mjolnir in Thor: Love and Thunder), Bruce Banner is only expected to appear in She-Hulk, and Steve Rogers is retired living in the past with Peggy (or an old man sitting by a pond). And as I mentioned above, Hawkeye/Barton is likely done with the superhero stuff as well.

A large display with Peter Parker/Spider-Man

(Image credit: Marvel/Sony/Disney via YouTube)

But, then, look at all the folks that Marvel Studios introduced in Phase 3. Doctor Strange, Tom Holland's Spider-Man, and all the heroes of Black Panther and Captain Marvel. You've got the skeleton for a new Avengers, don't you? Add on top of that, we got a new Captain America in Sam Wilson, and The Winter Soldier is still in play, as is Scarlett Witch. Plus Shang-Chi looks like a mighty lock for the next Avengers, especially when you look at his movie's box office results. Kate Bishop will likely play nice alongside those folks, especially since she appears to be emulating the original Hawkeye and may want to join up with a team of superheroes.

They've been called The Young Avengers — heck, Kate Bishop was in Young Avengers #1 — but we don't really know what Marvel plans to call this next chapter of the Avengers. But there's one more member of this squad we expect to see in the Hawkeye show.

How much of Black Widow's sister will we get in Hawkeye?

Black Widow and Yelena Belova

(Image credit: Marvel Entertainment)

The last we saw Yelena Belova, Natasha Romanov's adopted sister, we got reason to believe she will be in Hawkeye. It's not a stretch to think Florence Pugh will appear in the show, as Countess Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) found Belova at her sister's grave and lied to her about Barton being responsible for Black Widow's death.

At this point, we learned that Belova (Pugh, who we loved to root for in the Black Widow movie), has been working for "Val," who also employs the questionable U.S. Agent (Wyatt Russell, who we loved to hate in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier). So it appears that Val is building some sort of nefarious answer to the Avengers, and wants to wipe their remaining numbers from Earth.

That said, it's not hard to see a near future when Belova's turned from the dark side and joins this new Avengers crew. The big question is if it happens during Hawkeye, or if she actually kills Barton, giving Bishop her first true nemesis. Those two could have a spy-vs-spy situation that plays out over future Marvel movies, and it would rule.

At the end of it all, the question remains: will Hawkeye give us an Avenger and a villain, or two Avengers? We'll find out this holiday season.

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.