Hawkeye head writer Jonathan Igla, it turns out, is uniquely suited to the role of telling the story of the least powerful, but perhaps most relatable Avenger. For one thing, the experienced writer/producer’s credits include the well-regarded series Mad Men, Bridgerton, Pitch, and Sorry for Your Loss. For another, he knows his way around a bow and arrow. And also, as he tells Consequence, “I read everything in the comic book world, I really grew up with Marvel Comics and I love all of the biggest and smallest stuff as a writer.”
One of those comics, the 2012 Hawkeye series written by Matt Fraction with art by David Aja, was a very clear inspiration point for the six-episode series which just debuted on Disney+. The latest TV adventure spotlighting a specific MCU player, Hawkeye features Jeremy Renner as the former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who first appeared in Thor, then became an integral part of the Avengers framework.
Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, the new show features Clint Barton just wanting to celebrate a nice normal Christmas with his family — despite the complication of Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), a young woman who slams into his life and despite her own special set of skills, could definitely use some help dealing with the New York criminal underworld that she’s just pissed off.
In this phone interview, transcribed and edited for clarity, Igla talks about his initial approach to taking on the project, why details like Clint’s hearing loss felt important to him to include, and why Christmas plays such a big role in the series. Igla also discusses the origins of Rogers: The Musical, the recently confirmed spinoff Echo, featuring Hawkeye star Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez, and what telling a story about superheroes has in common with writing about ad execs and baseball players.
Tell me about how you came to the series — what was the process of getting on board?
Well, it started with me hearing that they were going to make a Hawkeye series and me saying, “Get me in that room.” I’m a really big fan of the character, especially from the Matt Fraction and David Aja run that heavily influences the show, and I said to my reps, “Tell them I’m an archer — don’t tell them I’m good, because I’m not, but tell them I’m an archer.” And I really think that wound up being a factor that got me into the room.
So what are your archery credentials?
I want to be really clear that I’m not good and at this point, to say “out of practice” would almost be too generous to my lack of skill, but I’ve had a series of injuries and surgeries that have really prevented me from getting back out there.
I’ve always had a fantasy interest in archery, and this is definitely something I was thinking about with the show. Why I was drawn to it? I didn’t do it as a kid but the fantasy of it, seeing Kevin Costner in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves when I was 7 or something and thinking that’s a sport I could do, that’s a sport that doesn’t rely entirely on physical strength…
I think because it is something that relies more on practice and discipline, I think it was something that felt more like a sport that you could get good at by being a good student. So, as a small child, that seemed like the sport for me.
That’s really interesting in light of Hawkeye’s role in the Avengers — how he is notably the only one without any true enhanced abilities.
Which is also what draws me to Hawkeye. Hawkeye being the superhero without superpowers is what is most interesting about him to me, because being a regular person without superpowers who ends up being a superhero is a fascinating journey and fascinating character story. I’m always drawn to the human moments and the human side of things, the small identifiable details, and the guy who doesn’t have superpowers or a suit of armor is the guy who is most like the audience, he’s the guy who gets hurt the most when he gets hit by a robot or hit by Thanos or a spaceship crashing into a building or something.
I think Hawkeye specifically is an interesting superhero because in addition to not having superpowers, he’s not someone who sought this out. I think Jeremy brings this in his performance — he has this sort of quiet, noble humility to him. He doesn’t think of himself as a hero, he doesn’t aim to be a hero that isn’t his goal at any point, and even now he doesn’t think of himself as a hero. I think that that is a really interesting quality to explore and try to capture.
To speak to the archery, some of what I was interested in specifically was the archery. I remember my first meeting with Marvel, I liked the idea that a bow and arrow requires more effort to fire than a gun. It requires some physical force, you have to put muscle into drawing the arrow, you have to put force into the bow strings so that the bow can launch the arrow. That felt like a part of [Clint’s] personality, that he is somebody who understands what he is doing in a more serious way.
The bow and arrow also force an extra millisecond of consideration, because it takes longer to draw and fire an arrow than it does to aim and shoot a gun, so I think that extra level of consideration is something I read into who Clint is as a SHIELD agent, as an Avenger, as a person.