When WandaVision became the first TV show to be released by Marvel Studios earlier this year, the mystery it crafted with every passing week allowed for fans’ imaginations to run wild. Theories began to circulate around the potential introduction of the Fantastic Four’s Reed Richards when Monica Rambeau mentioned an aerospace engineer friend of hers; by the end of the season, some fans were convinced that Mephisto would be revealed as the architect behind Westview. Of course, neither Mr. Fantastic nor Mephisto ever did appear; head writer Jac Schaeffer hadn’t even heard of the comic book villain until she started getting bombarded with questions about him during the series’ press tour. But the opposite outcome occurred a few months later in Loki, as the theories surrounding Jonathan Majors’s debut as Kang the Conqueror were proved accurate—for the most part—when He Who Remains showed up just in time for the show’s season finale.
In comparison to its live-action MCU TV predecessors, Hawkeye is hardly hiding its surprise villain at all. Before the season, many expected Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of Crime, to make his MCU debut, a suspicion further fueled by tweets from the actor who played Fisk in Netflix’s Daredevil series. And in just its third episode, Hawkeye opened the curtain. “Echoes” also introduces an exciting new antagonist for Clint Barton and Kate Bishop in Maya Lopez, but most notably it quietly brings in a man who, at the moment, is being referred to only as “Uncle.” He appears within the opening minutes of the episode, though only his torso and his hand can be seen as he stops by a young Maya’s karate class:
And although Maya is in charge of the Tracksuit Mafia in the present, Uncle is the true power that looms at the top of the crime syndicate. Maya’s lieutenant Kazi Kazimierczak presses her about what Uncle would think about the group pursuing Ronin when they’re supposed to be keeping a low profile, and while Clint doesn’t refer to him by name either when explaining the Tracksuits’ organization to Kate, he says that he’s “someone you don’t wanna mess with.” The Hawkeye team is deliberately waiting to fully introduce Uncle for now, but the show isn’t exactly hiding his identity either—Kingpin will arrive in earnest soon enough, and he could even play a crucial role for the remainder of Clint and Kate’s Christmas story.
Ever since the news came out that newcomer Alaqua Cox’s Maya Lopez would be introduced in Hawkeye, people have suspected that Kingpin could find his way into the new Disney+ series as well. After all, Maya’s comic book origins are closely tied to Fisk. She first appeared in the pages of David Mack and Joe Quesada’s Daredevil (1999) no. 9 as the adopted daughter of Fisk, who took her in after her father died when she was only 9 years old. Maya’s father was a mob enforcer and a friend of Fisk’s until Kingpin killed him, though Maya had no knowledge of what business they had together or what ever happened between them. (It does seem a little odd that she never thought to, like, look up anything on the shady guy who was constantly fighting Spider-Man and Daredevil when she got older, but alas.) Fisk uses Maya as a pawn in one of his plots to kill Daredevil, manipulating her into believing that the hero was the one who shot down her father instead of him. When she later discovers the truth, she confronts him in a major way:
Hawkeye has made some significant changes to Maya’s origin story by swapping in Clint as her father’s killer and making his murder occur when she’s much older, too. The fact that she’s already a part of the family business working for Kingpin changes things as well, and unless there’s more to their backstory than we know at the moment, Maya has no reason to have any animosity toward Fisk—only the mystery man dressed in a ninja suit who cut down her father in front of her eyes. With Maya’s own spinoff show, Echo, already announced, Hawkeye could be setting the stage for the future series to further explore her relationship and past with Kingpin.
In the context of Hawkeye, Fisk might also end up appearing only sparingly so that he can be one of the major draws of Echo—a series with a lesser-known title character. Hawkeye already has Maya, Kazi and the Tracksuit bros, and Kate’s sketchy stepfather-to-be Jack Duquesne for the pair of Hawkeyes to handle, not to mention Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova, who has yet to make her grand entrance. While Kingpin does appear frequently in Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye (2012) series, it’s almost always as the crime boss pulling the strings while others take care of the dirty work.
But no matter how large of a presence Kingpin has in the second half of Hawkeye, his arrival marks a major moment in the MCU. Fisk made his debut in the comics back in 1967, first appearing in Stan Lee and John Romita’s Amazing Spider-Man as a businessman with the vision of building an empire out of New York City’s underworld. He has since become one of the most popular villains in the Marvel universe, with big-screen appearances in 2003’s Daredevil (played by Michael Clarke Duncan) and 2018’s Oscar-winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (voiced by Liev Schreiber). Of course, Kingpin’s definitive portrayal came when Vincent D’Onofrio played him in Netflix’s Daredevil, starring opposite Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock. The series ran for three seasons from 2015 to 2018 before being canceled, along with the rest of Marvel’s Netflix projects, despite being the most watched and critically acclaimed of the bunch.
Kingpin’s involvement in the MCU may already go beyond Hawkeye. The trailers for No Way Home have revealed that at least five Spidey villains across the previous Sony-developed films will return for the multiversal conclusion to the MCU’s Spider-Man trilogy starring Tom Holland, but the sixth mystery member of the infamous Sinister Six supervillain team has yet to be revealed. After the release of “Echoes,” it seems possible that No Way Home’s marketing team could be holding its final villain so as not to step on Hawkeye’s own Kingpin reveal. And even if Fisk doesn’t appear in the upcoming film, there are still more rumors out there that No Way Home will bring in Cox’s Murdock as well. Whatever happens, Daredevil fans have a lot to be excited about right now after all hope that the Netflix series would be revived within the MCU seemed lost.
Of course, without a real glimpse of his face or even an uttered sound from him outside of a chuckle, there’s always the chance that Uncle ends up being someone else entirely. But between the suit that he’s wearing in “Echoes” and his ties to Maya Lopez and Hawkeye in the comics, the allusions and connections to Kingpin are unmistakable. While the new Christmas-themed MCU series has gotten off to a fun start thanks in large part to Hailee Steinfeld’s delightful performance as newcomer Kate Bishop (along with the true star of the show, Pizza Dog), the dual introductions of Echo and Kingpin have just made the stakes of Hawkeye a lot more interesting.