Hawkeye may have just changed the game when it comes to what the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is capable of. What’s most surprising is that they dropped this reveal on a Disney+ show no less, but more discussion on that later. With the big reveal of a new villain rising to prominence, it got us here at But Why Tho? thinking, what does this all mean for the MCU? In the most recent episode of Hawkeye titled “Ronin,” the “big guy” that has been referenced so heavily from the start of the show was finally revealed. So, ladies, and gentlemen, may we re-introduce to you, Kingpin.
For long-time Netflix Daredevil fans, the return of Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. Kingpin, to the screens, and thusly to Marvel, is a triumphant return. After the show was initially canceled in November 2018, passionate fans took to social media to get the show and/or the characters reinstated. But the matter was a little more complex at the time than was originally believed. Netflix had to pay a sizeable sum to license the rights to produce the show and another significant sum thereafter for every season they entered created. Nevertheless, the streamer invested into the property, believing they could make something magnificent that would draw in viewers—a gamble that would pay off.
However, in 2018, Disney announced they were planning to launch a streaming platform or their own. In addition to overpaying Marvel and now feeling like they were making a series that would ultimately promote content for another platform, Netflix pulled the plug on Daredevil and later Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Punisher, and Jessica Jones. There was believed to be a two-year cooling-off period in which none of the characters would be able to be used after the cancellation.
So we waited. Oh, we waited patiently, wondering what Disney would do with the beloved properties and characters. But, fear not loyal followers because the time is at hand, and that patience has finally been rewarded.
With Kingpin turning up in Hawkeye and heavily suggested rumors that Matt Murdock will also be making a return to the MCU, you have to wonder which of the other characters and said actors would also be following. The bigger questions at hand for this writer are: which version of Kingpin is this? And what does this mean for the MCU?
Since Loki premiered in May and with Spider-Man: No Way Home debuting in cinemas, we are surrounded by notions of the multiverse and variants. As of this date, I’ve not seen Spider-Man, so no spoilers here. However, the question remains: is this the same Kingpin from the Netflix series, or is this an exclusive version of Kingpin to the MCU?
Going with my gut, I firmly believe this Hawkeye version of Kingpin is a little of both, so let me explain. Essentially, this is the Wilson Fisk from the Netflix series; however, I don’t believe he will be referencing his history related to Daredevil’s three seasons. More so, we’re more likely to see parts of his past we haven’t been privy to in Daredevil, such as his dealings as the leader of the tracksuit mafia or as an Uncle to May “Echo” Lopez. Allowing Fisk into the MCU this way gives him context as a villain, but without having to lean on it either. To a large extent, Daredevil didn’t really lean into Kingpin’s true criminal persona until season three as it is, so Hawkeye will likely show us that deranged and meticulous side of Fisk that makes him a true mastermind.
Now that he’s here, though, we’ve still yet to figure out what his next moves are and what Marvel has in store for their newest villain. If we continue with the theory, this is not a Kingpin variant. Going off his character in the comics, Wilson Fisk is a megalomaniac and a criminal mastermind that can just as easily crush you via his puppeteering rather than using his brute physical force.
So what if Fisk is trying to assist a certain Thunderbolt Ross in wiping out specific non-powered Avengers to gain favor with the government and gain more power? The theory here is that Ross is still trying to recruit his Thunderbolts under the US government’s jurisdiction to do their bidding and turn the tide in some tough skirmishes. For those new to this unhinged superpower group, the Thunderbolts are essentially The Suicide Squad of the Marvel universe, with similar ties to the government. Their members also are supervillains. Members have consisted of the likes of Bullseye, US Agent, Baron Zemo, and even Hawkeye himself.
Fisk aligning himself with those in power would allow him to parallel the path taken by Norman Osborn. This is especially practical given that the rights for Osborn’s character currently lay with Sony under the umbrella of Spider-Man characters. So switching the narrative plot in the comics from Osborn to Fisk could allow him to become a much bigger villain than originally thought.
Examples of this can be seen in Secret Invasion and Dark Avengers comics where Osborn, after saving the day against the Skrulls, is elected to the position of Director of Shield after the disaster of Avengers Disassembled and House of M—all cataclysmic events that have caused citizens to demand a man of action. At the time, Osborn was in charge of the Thunderbolts initiative. Still, after taking over at SHIELD, he introduced the world to a new team of Avengers, comprised of villains with powers similar to the original members. Osborn himself became the Iron Patriot with an Iron Man-inspired suit.
Interesting, given that coming up in Marvel’s slate of Disney+ shows is a Secret Invasion show. Post Endgame, the Avengers team is no more. Starting with Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine “Val” has been recruiting members such as US Agent and Yelena Belova’s Black Widow.
This does all feel like a bit of a leap, though. While Fisk has a lust for power, he has rarely been portrayed with a savior complex. So, in contrast, perhaps his motivation is simply greasing the palms of men of power so that they can simply look the other way as he continues to take control of the criminal underground of New York City and operate with impunity. This would lead nicely to the likes of She-Hulk that will deal directly with Jennifer Walters becoming a Hulk-sized lawyer in New York and likely align with him dealing with the now scorn and enraged Echo as her premier show takes off also.
Regardless of the direction Marvel takes, the possibilities are genuinely quite tantalizing for viewers promising some brilliant entertainment and likely introducing more villains, and hopefully, heroes. Opportunities now exist for the return of Bullseye, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and perhaps even Frank Castle himself, the Punisher.
Let me know what you think the Marvel Cinematic Universe has in store for Hawkeye ‘s Kingpin as the newest villain in the MCU by finding me on Twitter or in the But Why Tho? Discord.
Hawkeye Season 1 is available now exclusively on Disney+.