Hawkeye producer Trinh Tran on bringing Kate Bishop into the MCU, and the freedom of Disney Plus TV series

Hawkeye Trinh Tran interview

Hawkeye on Disney Plus brings together Kate Bishop and Clint Barton, merging old and new in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Part of Phase 4, the TV series contributes to a broader sea change in the franchise post-Avengers: Endgame, embracing new characters who’ve been influenced by our favourite heroes.

We got to talk to Trinh Tran, executive producer on Hawkeye, about introducing Kate, and how Marvel Studios is approaching the next generation in the storied action movies. She explains the freedom in having a streaming service to produce for, as well as the big questions every new hero or project introduces, and the possibility of seeing Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate crossover with other heroes in the near future.

Given the festive theme, she tells us her favourite Christmas family movie, as well as the process in capturing that festive tone for a sci-fi series within such an established universe. Most importantly of all, we learn whether or not it’s possible that Lucky the Pizza Dog will get his own spin-off Disney Plus series – no spoilers, but it’s not a “no”.

The Digital Fix: Hawkeye introduces Kate Bishop to the MCU – was the plan always to use Clint’s solo project to bring her into the franchise?

Trinh Tran: There has always been interest in Kate Bishop and her character, and how do we get her involved in the MCU. And with talking about and brainstorming the storyline, it just made perfect sense that it would fit into the Hawkeye story, given that with Clint Barton, we have an archer already in the MCU, and one of the original six Avengers, so who better than that to open that door to have Kate Bishop come into the MCU.

So it made sense that way, and obviously, the [Matt Fraction and David Aja] comic run was such an amazing read. I couldn’t put the book down when I was reading through it, and we just loved the character so much that it was just trying to figure out how do we get her into the world in the most constructive way, that made sense to everything else that we’re working on.

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These Disney Plus series seem to offer more freedom creatively – you’ve worked extensively on the movie side of the MCU. Did you find it was more freeing to be doing a show for streaming instead?

Yeah, it certainly allowed us to have more time, on the Disney Plus side, than if we were to make it a feature. When we first started talking about making the Hawkeye standalone story, we had talked about it being one of the two hour movies that we were doing, but with Disney Plus launching, and there was so much great source material from the comics that we wanted to pull from, it made sense that it was moved over, and we had six hours to tell the story.

Hawkeye on Disney Plus: Trinh Tran interview

This is the first time we’re telling the Clint Barton story, so it’s not that this is the third film and we’ve got more. Then, also on top of that, we have a new character that we’re bringing into the world. So it just made sense that we allow that time so that we can tell each of their individual stories but then also allow the time for them to bond and work together, and create that friendship that they have in the series where they become partners.

We know Florence Pugh’s Yelena is due to appear in Hawkeye – as these projects go on, can we expect to see these younger characters crossover and come together in the future?

Our focus is always, let’s try to make sure that when we’re introducing new characters coming into the story and into the fold that we get them right so that there is a future down the line.

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The focus for this one is making sure we land Kate Bishop, and everybody is going to be happy with that character, and then we’ll see from there. There’s definitely room as we’ve told certain stories for new characters to come into the fold, it’s just a matter of how do they fit into the MCU in the way that would help us lead into a particular direction that we’re after.

Hawkeye has a darker tone, and slightly more grounded sense of action, much like the Netflix Marvel series. Is that grounded side of the franchise something you’re keen to expand on?

I think our goal is always, ‘How do we do this? How do we set each of our series apart from each other?’ Much like how Wandavision has a more sitcom vibe, Loki is different, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is different. For Hawkeye, we specifically wanted a non-big universal scale, world-ending catastrophe type of story.

Something more level in a way where it’s emotionally family-oriented. So it made sense for this particular character in this particular show to be at this level in terms of how personal the stake is. So it really is depending on what characters we are going to be using if it makes sense for a smaller personal type of story or whether it’s going to be a bigger, grander, ‘the world is ending!’ type of feel.

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Kate Bishop is quite distinct within the franchise because she’s directly inspired by the Avengers. In your mind, what does Kate represent as a hero within the MCU?

I think she represents someone who is not afraid to speak her mind, and who is strong-minded and strong-willed, and I think that is very inspirational to a lot of kids watching this is as young as she is. She might be less experienced compared to some of the other characters and some of the other Avengers, but in her mind, she feels that she can be next to them.

And she feels that she can do what some of the other ones do only because she feels confident about who she is, and she feels confident about the skills that she has acquired all of these years, and I think that’s what’s great about that particular character.

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I fully agree! We just had Disney Plus Day, and we were reminded that Echo is getting a spin-off series, and Agatha has a spin-off coming – will there be a Lucky the Pizza Dog show?

[Laughs] Well, you’re the first person who’s asked me that. I love Pizza Dog, which is why Pizza Dog is in the series, right? I mean, in [Fraction and Aja’s] run, he is one of the important characters as well, too. You guys have to tell me how much you guys want to see Lucky the Pizza Dog, I think. Let’s see how Pizza Dog does in this series, but this is his intro into the MCU as well, too, so we’ve got to make sure that the character works here.

Hawkeye on Disney Plus: Trinh Tran interview

Hashtag Pizza Dog series! Just one last question – Christmas plays a big part in the backdrop of Hawkeye, so I’m just wing, what’s your favourite Christmas movie

Oh, hah, there’s so many – Home Alone, I love that. I mean, there’s so many to name off, but that was one of the first ones I remembered. Just that tone, we were trying to hit at that lighter tone, and just the music.

As you’ve heard in the first two episodes, we really dived into the Christmas theme music and everything, and it was inspiring to just go back and listen to some of the score on that show. Chris Beck, who’s our composer, did an absolutely amazing job on this one. And I just remember an earlier conversation with him and we were just kind of going through all types of Christmas music.

Hawkeye is now available on Disney Plus.

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