“It’s a more personal stake for him because out of all of the heroes, he’s one of the few with kids, with a family,” says Tran about Hawkeye’s journey in the show. “We really wanted to hit that aspect of it, which is why it’s set at the holidays as well, because it’s all about (getting) home for the holidays, wanting to spend time with the family. He gets stuck on a mission and there’s a ticking clock in terms of, is he going to be able to make it home for Christmas? So it’s smaller scale, but full of heart — which is what we were striving for this particular series.”
A big city at Christmas time — let alone New York — is a classic setting for all kinds of movies, from action thrillers to comedies to romances. Filming in the Big Apple itself added that extra level of authenticity to the already more grounded narrative presented in Hawkeye.
“New York’s very special to me anyway,” series director Rhys Thomas said at a press conference the same day we spoke with Tran. “I was kind of a tyrant about being as true to New York as we could. Nothing bugs me more than fake geography in movies, and fake texture, so I think it was a given that we had to go there…plus we’ve got very human characters in the show as well, so I think anywhere that real world feel can breathe through the show, we had to take it.”
Much of the tone of Hawkeye was inspired by writer Matt Fraction and artist David Aja’s now-legendary 22-issue run that premiered in 2012. The book found Barton living in an apartment in Brooklyn, distanced from the rest of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, and dealing with everyday problems while still going on missions with Bishop at his side. It was a major reinvention of a character who had been part of the Avengers for decades yet was never quite as well-defined as his colleagues.
“The Fraction run was a huge inspiration,” confirms Tran. “There was so much that we wanted to pull from that run and obviously couldn’t fit it even within six hours. But we love what Matt did with that storyline tonally. There was a lighthearted humor side of the story that we wanted to pull from that into our series.”
Even so, Tran admits that working in aspects of Fraction and Aja’s take on the character while keeping what had been established about Barton in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was a sometimes tricky endeavor.
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