Favorite Fictional Characters, #383: Kate Bishop
Updated: Feb 20, 2022
I was a big fan of Hawkeye back in the 1980s. His turn as wisecracking-yet-responsible leader of the West Coast Avengers has always been my favorite iteration of the comic Clint Barton, and while I was pleased to see his inclusion in the MCU's Avengers, I felt they made him too dark, too brooding. The Hawkeye I enjoyed would shine through in moments, such as his "we're fighting an army of robots and I have a bow and arrows" line in Age of Ultron. Still, I came to dig on the character arc they gave him and eventually bought into Jeremy Renner's deadpan portrayal. When it was announced Hawkeye would star in his own Disney+ show, I was all in.
As immersed as I was in Hawkeye's source material, I was much less aware of his co-star's comic antecedents. I knew of Kate Bishop, but I didn't know the particulars. Was she his daughter? What was up with the pizza dog? And I knew even less about the actress tapped to give her screen life. Like all of us, I have my biases. These child actors, did they have the chops to keep the Marvel cinematic train rolling? Especially these crossover pop stars. I felt the same about Zendaya in the Spider-Man films. Skeptical. Wrongly skeptical. Kids can play.
Hailee Steinfeld's Kate Bishop is a kinetic, charismatic animal with all the makings of a super hero. She's got the skills, of course, honed in the obsessive fashion only children of extreme privilege or extreme poverty can afford. But more importantly, she has that enormous chip on her shoulder, the drive to perfect herself, and the desire to use it all to help others. She has a mischievous streak, a penchant for flamboyance and disobedience that recalls the more fun aspects of Hawkeye's earlier comic incarnations, and she has a teenage girl's version of Tony Stark's hyper-verbal restless patter. Steinfeld's Bishop more than holds her own against Renner's more laconic Hawkeye throughout the show's episodes, and I found myself enjoying her turns on screen as much as his. She proves herself a capable combatant, but more importantly, she earns the veteran Avenger's respect with her persistence and loyalty. I'll admit that I'm sad to see the original MCU Avengers ride off into the sunset. That collection of characters and actors was a cinematic thunderbolt the likes of which we may never see again. But I'm starting to think the next generation has some unique and entertaining stories to tell, too. Large popcorn, please. And keep it coming.