After years of speculation and missed shots, Jeremy Renner is finally drawing back his bow and getting ready to chart the next chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) with his own show on Disney+.
The imaginatively titled Hawkeye joins an expanding roster of shows that bring back firm favourites like Scarlet Witch and Loki, alongside new faces including She-Hulk and Moon Knight.
This year’s Disney Investor Day finally shed some light on what we can expect from Renner’s return as the masterful marksman.
There’s an impressive cast that includes Hailee Steinfeld, Vera Farmiga, and Florence Pugh (reprising her presumed breakout role from the delayed Black Widow).
Hawkeye is aiming to score a bullseye in “late 2021”, meaning we’re still a way off from seeing the superhero series.
And in the meantime, there are a million questions about what the storyline will be, what spurs Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop to take up the mantle of the next Hawkeye, and whether we’ll ever get to find out what really went down in Budapest?
Of course, the big question on everyone’s lips is, “ewho will be the villain of Hawkeye?” Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Delving deep into Marvel Comics, the MCU’s past, and its potential future, here’s who we think could be painting a target on Clint Barton’s back.
If the rumour mill is to be believed, The Illuminerdi claims the circus is coming to town in the form of the villainous Clown.
Although Kazimierz Kazimierczak has only been with Marvel Comics since 2013, he has plenty of history with a certain Mr. Barton – which lends itself perfectly to Hawkeye.
When Kazimierczak’s circus family was killed in an armed conflict, he moved to America and started butchering people for no apparent reason. It wasn’t long before he took on the mantle of Clown and realised he could actually make a living as a mercenary for hire.
Clown was hired to take out Hawkeye by a group known as the ‘Tracksuit Draculas’ (brilliant name), but only succeeded in killing Barton’s neighbour.
He returned to finish the job and nearly got the better of Hawkeye until Kate Bishop turned up to save her mentor.
Given Hawkeye’s role as one of the more grounded heroes in the MCU, it makes sense that an equally grounded villain help usher in his freshman series.
Interestingly, Les Misérables star Fra Free has already been cast as ‘Kazi’, so it sounds like Clown will have some sort of antagonistic presence in the series. Is it enough to claim the title of big bad though?
Netflix’s Daredevil might’ve been axed in 2016, but four years later, some of us still refuse to give up on the Man Without Fear.
Alongside Charlie Cox’s enigmatic performance as the titular Daredevil, Vincent D’Onofrio shone as Kingpin.
As one of the most iconic Spider-Man and Daredevil villains out there, Kingpin perfectly fits the idea of a street-level baddie that doesn’t quite warrant lording over something as big as an MCU movie.
More than just plucking a name out of thin air, Kingpin is a logical choice for Hawkeye given his ties to the character called Echo. Hawkeye’s cast list has already nabbed Alaqua Cox to play Maya Lopez and her superheroine alter ego.
In the comics, Echo’s father was murdered by Kingpin, but in a twist of fate, she was raised as the bald boss’ own daughter.
It’s unclear whether Echo will have a villain or antihero role in Hawkeye, but whatever part she has to play, it neatly sets up Kingpin for ‘main’ MCU canon.
If anyone needed more convincing Kingpin will be a puppet master from the shadows, he also has connections to Clown after he hired the merc to kill Barton when his plans for mob domination were interrupted by the Golden Archer.
With Cox rumoured to back as Matt Murdock in Jon Watts’ Spider-Man 3, we’re closer than ever to having D’Onofrio cracking open a jar of head polish to play Kingpin all over again.
Even if it’s not as the main villain of season one, it opens the door for Wilson Fisk’s long-awaited homecoming.
Getting into the big leagues, the tinfoil hat theorists have gone wild with this one.
The Direct was the first to claim Iron Man nemesis Madame Masque will be muscling her way into Hawkeye, but with Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark out of action, she seems like an odd choice.
This is where we look a little closer at the Hawkeye comics, and the high-profile casting of Vera Farmiga.
After starring in everything from The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas to The Conjuring series, Farmiga is about as famous as they come.
Her Oscar-nominated status means some fans aren’t buying the fact she’s simply been cast as Eleanor Bishop – Kate’s mother.
In the comics, Eleanor wasn’t destined to lead a long and happy life, with her fateful ‘death”’ in a car accident being a pivotal moment in Bishop deciding to become a vigilante.
In a typically Marvel twist, Eleanor was later revealed to be alive and well, while also doing the bidding for Madame Masque.
Streamlining the whole thing and adding in one of those beloved MCU family dramas, it’s easy to imagine Eleanor’s death kick-starting the series.
Barton would take Bishop under his wing, only to have Farmiga’s character return as Madame Masque in a jaw-dropping season finale.
Okay, so live-action Madame Masque has already appeared in the 1940s-set Agent Carter, which is in official MCU canon. However, this version of Madame Masque was named after her true comic book identity of Whitney Frost, allowing the writers to have Eleanor Bishop as a new version of Madame Masque who has modelled herself on the OG.
Keeping it in the family once more, Clint’s brother, Barney Barton, is another hot tip to take a villainous turn.
Hawkeye has already cast Tony Dalton as Jack Duquense, who worked alongside a man called Buck Chisolm (using the alias Trick Shot) to train Clint in the comics.
Similar to Eleanor Bishop, don’t expect Chisolm to stick around long if he makes it into Hawkeye. We’re guessing he’d mainly be around for some Kill Bill-esque training montages with Duquesne.
If Trick Shot bows out early, it leaves room for Hawkeye’s brother to step up as the second version of the character.
There’s a complicated story about FBI agent Barney Barton leading a double life as a hero, and sacrificing himself to save the Avengers.
After surviving the ordeal and being kept in suspended animation by Egghead, Barney was then reanimated by Baron Zemo. Even if Barney went on to take the name of Trickshot instead of Trick Shot, what’s one space between friends?
It’s a little too similar to Kate finding out her mother is still alive, but the reveal that Barney is a sharp-shooting member of the Barton family with a dark side would add some telenovela-inspired drama.
Egghead was briefly spotted in Ant-Man And The Wasp, and with Daniel Brühl already confirmed to return as Baron Zemo in Falcon And The Winter Soldier, this convoluted arc isn’t too far out of the realms of reality.
Rounding off this famous five with arguably Hawkeye’s greatest villain, Renner’s Avenger will surely get caught in the ‘crossfire’ of Hawkeye and Crossfire’s complicated relationship at some point.
Former CIA agent William Cross was a master of interrogation who also built mind control technology with the intent of turning superheroes against each other.
Crossfire originally targeted Hawkeye because he thought Barton was the weakest Avenger – something that has become a running joke even within the MCU.
Crossfire then used his tech to make Hawkeye and companion Mockingbird fight each other, which led to Barton suffering hearing damage.
FandomWire claims Hawkeye will recast Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Adrianne Palicki with a new version of Mockingbird, while others suggest the show will address Hawkeye’s partial deafness.
Better yet, Crossfire already has a link the MCU thanks to the fact he’s the cousin of Ant-Man’s Darren Criss, a.k.a. Yellowjacket.
Crossfire has also gone up against Moon Knight, meaning he’s a likely candidate to be a crossover villain with the series of the same name.
Excitedly, the first Hawkeye photos have teased the show will be set in a post-Endgame world.
Let’s remember Hawkeye was one of only three OG Avengers (alongside Thor and Hulk) still active, so there’s no stopping the MCU as it shifts focus to its second-tier characters like Hawkeye(s).
Yes, this may be Renner’s show, but with everyone from Kingpin to Madame Masque preparing to take a shot at this eagle-eyed archer, he’ll need all the help he can get.
Hawkeye will be coming soon to Disney+.