“You have to learn to jump between two worlds.”
Maya Lopez’s father tells her this at a young age, after explaining how she wouldn’t be able to attend a school which specialized in teaching deaf students. He didn’t have the money to afford it, but this would ultimately help her grow in the long run, he said. She would have to learn to adapt by watching the world around her.
“Echoes,” the third episode of Hawkeye, begins with a series of flashbacks centered on Maya, the latest superhero to enter the MCU. In the present, though, Maya is no hero; she’s the leader of the Tracksuit Mafia, a crime syndicate consisting of aptly dressed henchmen who bookend almost all of their sentences with “bro,” no matter whom they’re speaking to. She’s taken the reins of the group after her father was killed, and with his killer reemerging following years of silence, Maya has only one thing on her mind: getting revenge on the vigilante known as Ronin.
Although the two-episode premiere of Hawkeye was released just last week, we’ve already arrived at the midpoint of the season. “Echoes” continues to establish the show’s light-hearted, holiday tone while also making strides in developing the relationship between Clint Barton and Kate Bishop. The pair of archers find themselves in literal binds after Kate crashed Clint’s half-baked plan to make amends with the Tracksuits by inviting them to kidnap him. But following a brief interrogation by Maya, in which Clint attempts to convince her that the real Ronin was killed by Black Widow and that this present-day incident has all been a big mixup, Clint and Kate escape the abandoned toy warehouse they’re being held in by taking down the Tracksuits with the aid of shopping carts, ball pits, and, of course, arrows.
The thrilling car chase that follows serves as a showcase for Kate’s talents with a bow and Clint’s skills behind the wheel, along with Hawkeye’s arsenal of trick arrows—from explosive arrows to the surprisingly useful plunger arrows. The scene solidifies the MCU’s new team of Hawkeyes, recreating the iconic chase that first appeared within the pages of Matt Fraction and David Aja’s award-winning Hawkeye series. With Clint’s deadline to return home to his family by Christmas approaching, the duo eventually makes their way to the luxurious Bishop penthouse to gain access to Bishop Security’s database and uncover more about the Tracksuits and Maya’s second-in-command, Kazi. And in a cliff-hanger, Kate’s sketchy prospective stepfather, Jack, finds Clint lurking around the apartment and reacquaints the former Avenger with his old Ronin sword.
Hawkeye continues to merge the past with the future of the MCU, and “Echoes” plays an important role in introducing a character who will soon be getting a Disney+ show of her own. But the episode also goes a step further by teasing the potential appearance of one of Marvel’s greatest villains.
A Tale of Two Hawkeyes
“Echoes” is a pivotal episode in building the dynamic between Clint and his unexpected protégé Kate. While Clint still makes sure to rein in Kate’s overconfidence, to her delight, he also admits that she really is as gifted an archer as she claims to be after witnessing her abilities firsthand during the car chase. (In a shot that might impress Santa Claus himself, she even takes down a car with a trick arrow that unleashes a number of ropes that pull a bunch of Christmas trees into the vehicle’s path.) And despite his reluctance to do so, he’s beginning to give her more tips of the superhero trade, with perhaps his most sincere lesson being that this life that she idealizes “comes with a price.”
Building off of the foundation that the first two installments of Hawkeye laid surrounding Clint’s physical limitations and the toll that his Avengers career has taken on him, this week’s episode shows how extensive his hearing loss has become after Maya destroys his hearing aid. Without it, Clint is incapable of understanding what Kate is saying to him throughout most of the episode—which he actually seems to prefer, but still—and he requires her assistance to be able to speak to his son over the phone. As Kate mediates this conversation between Clint and young Nathaniel Barton, she’s also provided with a window through which to see the consequences of her actions on him and his family.
Although their relationship is slowly getting stronger, Clint has yet to trust Kate enough to reveal the important fact that he was the one who once brutalized the criminal syndicates of the world as Ronin. Even when she presses him on his connection to and knowledge of Ronin, Clint remains tight-lipped. But now that he’s thrown Black Widow’s name into the mix, it’s only a matter of time before Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova arrives to build upon the story line that kicked off in the end credits of Black Widow.
There is still plenty of room for Clint and Kate’s bond to grow, but for now, at least the two of them are on the same page when it comes to Pizza Dog and his need to be walked. And can you blame them with a face like this?
Meeting Maya Lopez
The strong opening of this week’s Hawkeye serves as a compact origin story for Maya, the hero who’ll soon come to be known as Echo. Though the series of flashbacks takes place before the show’s title sequence even hits the screen, it paints a picture of Maya’s childhood, her talents, and the loss of her father that now drives her.
Similar to Daredevil, the blind crimefighter whose comic books she was first introduced in the late 1990s, Maya’s deafness morphs into a gift that she learns to harness on the way toward becoming a skilled fighter. A flashback of young Maya in karate school shows her ability to watch others’ movements and recreate a facsimile of them thereafter, as she studies how the biggest student in the class takes down his opponent and then uses the same move against him in their matchup right after. In the comics, all she needs is a bit of footage of a fight between Daredevil and Bullseye in order to master each of their moves and use them in combat against Daredevil, an ability that makes her one of the more formidable brawlers in the Marvel universe.
But Hawkeye also departs from her comic origins in a crucial way, as the death of her father has now been wrapped up in Clint Barton’s dark past as Ronin. In the comics, Maya’s dad was murdered by the Kingpin of Crime, Wilson Fisk, although she is first manipulated into believing that Daredevil killed her father. Her dad was Fisk’s friend and right-hand man, until one day he became a liability and Fisk killed him. With Maya’s mother out of the picture, Kingpin then adopted the orphaned child and began grooming her to follow in her father’s footsteps.
“Echoes” tweaks Maya’s past in order to neatly fit into the context of Hawkeye and the MCU, weaving in ties to the Tracksuit Mafia and introducing her as a true villain despite the fact that the character has never been one since debuting in the ’90s Daredevil series. Witnessing her father’s killing as an adult has blinded her with a desire to exact revenge on Ronin—which is ironic, considering she was the first character to don the Ronin costume in the 2005 New Avengers comics. Her rageful mission also puts her at odds with Kazi, who has already called her out for placing her own motivations above the best interests of crew, and their growing tension will be a dynamic to keep an eye on. But none of these tweaks change the most important parts of Maya’s canonical upbringing, leaving plenty of room for Hawkeye to introduce one of Marvel’s biggest bad guys.
Who Is “Uncle”?
Kingpin is coming. It’s long been rumored that the infamous Daredevil and Spider-Man villain could be making his MCU debut in Hawkeye, and this week’s episode all but confirms it. There’s always the chance that the Hawkeye creative team is toying with fans’ expectations, but all signs are pointing toward the return of Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin, who would be reprising his role from Netflix’s Daredevil series.
Within the opening minutes of “Echoes,” Maya’s father tells her that “Uncle” would be there to pick her up after karate class, as a man wearing a business suit walks over to her and chuckles as he squeezes her cheek. His face is deliberately left off screen, and he’s referred to only as “Uncle” thereafter—even by Kazi later on. Fueling the mystery further, Clint also refrains from calling out the guy by name when he’s giving Kate the rundown of the Tracksuit Mafia later in the episode. “They started small, but grew,” Clint explains. “There’s the guy at the top, he’ll do anything to grow the operation.”
“I thought Maya was the boss,” Kate replies.
“No, there’s someone above Maya. Someone you don’t wanna mess with.”
When you factor in Maya and her father’s relationships to Kingpin in the comics, Fisk’s presence in Fraction and Aja’s Hawkeye series, and the fact that the Tracksuits’ base of operations in the flashback is called Fat Man Auto Repairs (Kingpin is a man of rather large stature), it becomes clear that the villain may soon receive a proper reintroduction in Hawkeye. With only three episodes remaining in the season, Clint and Kate still need to cross paths with Yelena Belova, find out the truth behind Armand Duquesne’s murder and Jack’s potential connection to it, and even figure out how Kate’s mother fits into everything. On top of Maya and the Tracksuit Mafia, that’s a lot of villains for Team Hawkeye to deal with. And if Kingpin is looming in the shadows behind them all, Clint has his work cut out for him if he wants to make it home for Christmas.