Kate Bishop’s father appears to die in the Hawkeye premiere. That might be a better outcome for Kate than what happened in the comics.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the first two episodes of Hawkeye, now streaming on Disney+.
It hasn’t come up between them yet, but Clint Barton and Kate Bishop have something in common beyond archery. They’re both dealing with the loss of someone close to them.
For Barton, it’s Black Widow. Natasha Romanoff’s sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame still weighs heavy on her old partner, making the ridiculous Rogers: The Musical a traumatic experience. In Kate’s case, it’s the death of a parent. It’s just that Kate’s loss seriously alters the relationship she had with her father on the source material.
Kate’s father Derek Bishop appears to die in the opening moments of Hawkeye. Kate is separated from her parents during the opening salvo of the Chitauri’s attack during the Battle of New York. Barton saves her life, allowing her mother Eleanor to grab her and rush out of their crumbling penthouse. We never see Derek’s corpse, but the next scene is set at his funeral.
Derek’s death, and Kate’s personal connection to Barton’s heroics, lead Kate to take up a bow and arrow to protect her mother. It’s a brief but effective superhero origin story for the new Hawkeye. It also inverts her relationship with her parents from the comics. In the show, she has a strained relationship with her mother and potential stepfather Jack Duquense. In the comics, she has a similar relationship with Derek.
When Kate was introduced in Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung’s Young Avengers, she was the child of a single parent, Derek, with Eleanor presumed dead. Kate and her sister Susan had a strained relationship with their father due to his workaholic nature. Further strain was put on their relationship when Derek married Heather, a woman so young Kate attended high school with her.
All of that paled in comparison to what Kate would learn in Matt Fraction, David Aja, and Annie Wu’s Hawkeye, which the Disney+ show is heavily based on. It started with Kate’s father cutting her off financially. Then, the estrangement became permanent when Kate learned that he was a client of her arch-enemy, Madame Masque.
Kate promptly called her father and let him know she’d discovered his crimes. She promised that after aiding Barton in his battle with the Tracksuit Draculas, she was coming after him. Derek responded by joining his criminal cohorts, including Masque and the oft-rumored MCU debutant Kingpin, in ordering a hit on both Hawkeyes.
Tensions between Kate and her father haven’t come to a head yet. The subplot of Derek taking a hut out on his daughter came in Fraction and Aja’s finale issue of Hawkeye, and subsequent Hawkeye runs haven’t picked up on it. Kate’s relationship with her mother, who was revealed to be a half-vampire during her brief run as the leader of the West Coast Avengers, has been a more prominent part of her recent comic book history than her falling out with her father.
The run that followed Fraction and Aja’s, All-New Hawkeye by Jeff Lemire and Ramon Perez, did touch on Kate’s relationship with her father. It showed how she went from idolizing her father to finding a new hero in Hawkeye. A similar thing happened in the Disney+ show, although it has more to do with Derek’s apparent death happening at the same time that Kate’s life was saved by Hawkeye’s heroics, inspiring her to take up a bow.
The MCU version of Kate hasn’t been disillusioned by her father’s criminal activities. He didn’t live long enough to become a villain in her eyes. That doesn’t mean he won’t. The inversion of her parents’ fates could lead to Derek’s reemergence later in the series. Eleanor’s return in Avengers West Coast saw her working with Madame Masque, although her motivation was more sympathetic than Derek’s. She was using Masque to find a cure for her vampirism. Despite that, Kate couldn’t trust her.
If Derek returns in Hawkeye, it’s likely that it won’t be a happy reunion. It’s unlikely that Derek faked his death for altruistic reasons. While Eleanor’s relationship with the shady Jack Duquense makes her suspect, there’s a possibility that Derek could be up to something equally criminal behind the scenes. Even if he’s doing the wrong thing for the right reasons, like helping Kate and Eleanor financially, it might push Kate away from him. Luckily, she has a new mentor figure in Barton. He at least knows what it takes to be a good, if tired, dad.
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