Did Marvel really bring back a fan-fave villain, only to immediately write him off?
Unlike shows like Loki and What If, Hawkeye was always planned to be a single-run limited series. The Christmas-set show follows in the footsteps of WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, feeding future Marvel Cinematic Universe stories by introducing characters like Maya Lopez, aka Echo, and Kate Bishop, the new Hawkeye. But the series also resurrected a primary antagonist left by the wayside when Netflix’s Marvel TV franchise fell by the wayside: Wilson Fisk, aka Kingpin. But fans aren’t sure whether Kingpin is now dead, considering how Hawkeye’s finale framed his exit.
Warning: Spoilers for Hawkeye Episode 6 and Spider-Man: No Way Home follow. The final moments of Hawkeye’s penultimate episode brought back Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk, introducing him as the series’ ultimate head of crime in New York City. D’Onofrio originated this character in Netflix’s Daredevil, so it was a big deal for him to return in the Disney+ franchise. The timing of Disney+’s reveal was strategic, as the actor who played the titular character from that series, Charlie Cox, appeared on big screens barely a day later as Matt Murdock in Spider-Man: No Way Home.
The one-two punch of these former Netflix stars’ appearances suggested to fans that D’Onofrio’s arrival on Disney+ wasn’t just an in-joke cameo. (Unlike WandaVision’s casting of Evan Peters as Wanda’s deceased twin brother Pietro, the same character he’d played in the now-defunct X-Men films.) But perhaps the rejoicing over the Netflix shows being represented in Disney+ and the MCU was too hasty. By the end of the Hawkeye finale, Kingpin was, by all appearances, dead after being shot by Maya.
But don’t despair just yet! Fans aren’t so sure Kingpin is gone. First of all, it’s not the first deadly thing that happened to Fisk in the hour. He took bullets and arrows to the chest, was hit by a car, and had a bunch of deadly trick arrows go off right under him. Of course, one would think a bullet to the face from Echo would be unsurvivable, but since he walked away from having a car run him directly into a building wall, who knows?
Moreover, the series doesn’t show him getting shot. Now, that could be because this is Disney+, a streaming service that’s supposed to be family-friendly, and a person being shot onscreen isn’t child-appropriate. However, fans know that when someone doesn’t blatantly pass away in front of their eyes, they’re not necessarily gone.
Moreover, bringing back an actor like D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk, a major fan-favorite villain, only to off him a single episode later seems like a waste. But on the other hand, this is one way to nod to the Netflix series and then move on. That’s especially true if Spider-Man’s Daredevil cameo was also a one-off.
There’s also the possibility Fisk survived, but was gravely injured and may look very different the next time he reappears. If the idea is that Maya shot Fisk in the face, that allows the MCU to recast the role with a fresh actor selected specifically for the MCU, assuming he has to have a new face constructed.
Whether any of this is the plan remains to be seen. But until Echo arrives and Disney+ returns to this street-level story set in New York City, fans will wait and wonder what the next move is.
All episodes of Hawkeye are streaming on Disney+.