The Marvel Cinematic Multiverse is in full-swing and, as it turns out, in a point of transition as it moves from a semi-grounded MCU into the next phase of the content Marvel wants to put out. I’ve long theorized that Phase 4 would be made up of smaller phases building out over one big story, as opposed to the first 23 films where it was all building to Thanos. We have original Avengers transitioning their titles to the next generation of heroes, some of which are even younger than they were when they joined the fray. One transition in particular deserves special attention, both for what it means for the future and how it handled the present in the shadow of the juggernaut that is Marvel’s latest big-screen offering. It also deserves kudos for successfully landing the plane on the mentor-mentee relationship in a way that Peter Parker’s arc really didn’t. We now have a new Hawkeye and that is Kate Bishop.
After being put through the ringer while finding out her parents were willing members of organized crime, the world’s greatest archer ensures that her mother faces some consequences for her actions. The Elder Bishop is last seen asking her daughter if sending parents to jail is what heroes do after she is unable to gracefully exit the Kingpin’s criminal enterprise. It would not surprise me to see the Kingpin enlist a masked vigilante like Madame Masque to take the younger Bishop down if we get a Season 2 or a Hawkeye and Black Widow movie down the line. Whatever form she next shows up in, Kate Bishop won’t be alone.
At the end of Hawkeye, Clint Barton solidified his relationship with Kate Bishop, and completes the arc that began in 2012’s Avengers. His family is safe, his wife’s past life is secure, and he can now finally rest. Not only does he do this, but he brings Kate home with him. At this point, only Nick Fury and the Avengers even knew his family existed. This shows how much he actually cares about Kate, and how much the “your mess is my mess” line isn’t delivered just for kicks, but actually symbolizes a partnership that began reluctantly. It’s a much better partnership than that of Peter Parker and Tony Stark.
Whereas Iron Man recruited Spider-Man out of necessity, he then took the young man into space and watched him die in his arms. Before taking him to space, Stark wanted to have Peter join the Avengers: this was his grand gesture since letting him go against The Vulture alone as a way to clean up the public relations mess after Captain America broke the Avengers out of The Raft. He let a 16-year old kid keep a hyper-advanced suit and it was the way he treated past employees that led to one of them targeting Peter to the point of outing his identity. In a lot of ways, it was Tony Stark’s recruitment of a starstruck Peter Parker that has now led to the multiverse exploding.
Clint Barton is no Tony Stark.
Clint went out of his way to protect Kate from the beginning, and he risked his family just to make sure she was safe. He didn’t want her to get involved, then got to know her and doubled down on protecting her, and even tried to send her home when he realized things got too dangerous. When Kate wanted to confront her mother after receiving the video of the Kingpin, he told her he’d help. Clint taught Kate how to make arrows and how to assess targets. Compare that to Stark, who didn’t take Peter seriously when he told him about the Vulture and who left him (and the rest of the Avengers) absolutely no financial stability after his passing. Given her mentor, Kate Bishop has a chance to be a better Avenger than Spider-Man’s ever been.