Comics On TV

Hawkeye Directors Bert and Bertie on That Character Reveal, Yelena's Blip, and Clint's Confession

A whole new Marvel world has opened up with episode 5 of the Disney+ series. Find out how the directors worked to keep the secret and how they felt about Kate and Yelena's big talk.

by | December 20, 2021 | Comments

The fifth episode of Hawkeye ended with a bombshell. Not only is Kate’s (Hailee Steinfeld) mother, Eleanor (Vera Farmiga), involved in the criminal plot, but she’s working with an infamous Marvel Comics villain. This person’s presence in the Marvel Studios’ part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was a topic of debate for some time and, even now, we’re reticent to speak the character’s name.

Which means, of course, this is your spoiler warning. Watch episode 5 and come back here.


Marvel's Daredevil - Vincent D'Onofrio as Wilso Fisk aka Kingpin (Netflix)

(Photo by Netflix)

Now that we’re all caught up, Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) is technically a MCU character thanks to the Netflix series Daredevil. But ever since Marvel Studios took complete control of Marvel’s television output, the canonicity of all the Netflix series were in doubt. The only show the studio directly acknowledged until now was ABC’s short-lived Agent Carter and from tales told out of school, the relationship between Marvel Studios and Marvel’s former television unit was always a little frosty. Whatever those issues may or may not have been, though, D’Onofrio is back as The Kingpin.

Re-introducing the character (via a cell phone photo) was the privilege of directors Amber Templemore-Finlayson and Katie Ellwood – collectively known as Bert and Bertie. When Rotten Tomatoes caught up with the directing duo recently, they told us secrecy was of the utmost importance for Fisk’s brief moment in their episodes.

“He was smuggled into set, under a cloak,” Bert revealed. “His double was also smuggled into set, and his stunt double was smuggled on the set, and the stand-in was smuggled because they all looked the same. So, it was fun in that we had to do that, but we also knew what it meant to the fans not to find out about that. It’s the one secret we managed to keep.”

As it turns out, the codeword used on set for Fisk and D’Onofrio was a relatively simple one: “The Boss.” It is, in fact, the term Clint (Jeremy Renner) has been using for him up until the episode 5 reveal.

“We would discuss ‘the Boss,’ but we’d never discuss the Big Man or Kingpin,” Bertie said. They were even unsure who the Boss was until executive producer Trinh Tran approached them during production with the news. “She came up and it was like, ‘It’s going to be a new introduction. She said, ‘It’s Kingpin’ so quietly. We were like, ‘What? What?’ And she’s like, ‘Shh keep it down. Cone of silence.’ So, it was brilliant and exciting for us as filmmakers knowing how exciting it was going to be for the fans.”


Hawkeye directing duo Bert & Bertie in a screencap from Yelena featurette

(Photo by Disney+)

Besides firmly re-establishing D’Onofrio’s Fisk as an element of the MCU, Bert and Bertie are also the first directors not to film an entire season of a Marvel Studios show. In the case of Hawkeye, Rhys Thomas directed the first two and the finale while Bert and Bertie helmed the middle three, from Clint and Kate’s car-chase-escape from the Tracksuit Mafia to the Kingpin photo.

“It’s actually more normal to have multiple directors in a season,” Bert said. “You come in and you’re a guest on these various incredible shows.” The pair have helmed episodes of The Great and Kidding in addition to feature films Dance Camp, Troop Zero, and various shorts.

But even in establishing a pattern closer to the industry norm, Marvel still things differently by splitting the work between just two teams.

“There was a certain amount of ownership, for both ourselves and Rhys,” Bert said. But she also noted the small number of directors is different. “The singular director thing, unless you are creating the show, is the unusual way to go, although it’s becoming a lot more common these days. So, we’re used to stepping in as one of multiple directors.

“The nice thing about this show is we were given more creative input than we have before, which, obviously, we really enjoyed in this process,” she continued.


One element they had control over was relating the way Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) experienced the Blip.

“It was a real kind of — I think ‘honor’ is probably the right word — to blip someone,” Bert said. “To actually have that moment in our episode was amazing because how do you show someone blipping? We had all the reference [from Avengers: Infinity War] and we were able to see Black Widow. But what we hadn’t seen is the blipping from the perspective of someone who knew what it felt like to be blipped.”

Concurrently with Hawkeye’s development, WandaVision director Matt Shakman also realized a Blip moment with Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), but that scene was more focused on the confusion of her mother’s seeming disappearance. For Bert and Bertie, the moment was more about giving “the audience that experience through Yelena and staying with her as it happened.” The result was the time-lapse of the wallpaper changing, a unique realization of the Blip which also serves Yelena as a character.

Bertie referred to Pugh’s Yelena as “just a joy and a pleasure to watch.” By “letting it live,” they got moments like her macaroni dinner with Kate and that meme-able “Hiiii.”

Moments like the dinner, or the Christmas movie montage in an earlier episode, help Hawkeye avoid the “soggy middle” problem some superhero shows encounter across a season. For Bert, another way of avoid that sensation is developing a good ebb and flow of action, character, and — in Hawkeye’s case — character introductions like Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox).

“Telling stories is not about wall-to-wall action or wall-to-wall comedy. It’s about taking the audience through kind of the emotional journey of our characters,” Bert said. “So yes, we’re lucky enough to be introducing incredible characters along the way … but taking the audience from an action-packed sequence to sitting down in a diner and talking about what it means to be a hero. Those kinds of things are so beautifully pitched in our episodes.”

Bert said they feel “incredibly fortunate” to get the middle three episodes. “You get to the end of 40 minutes and you’re like, ‘Wait it’s over? I have to wait a week, what?’ — which is where you want to leave the audience. You want to leave them wanting more every single time.”


Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez in Marvel Studios' HAWKEYE

(Photo by Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios)

Their episodes certainly feature great cliffhangers, but their last also features a great pay-off as Maya finally learns Clint was Ronin all along. It occurs in the middle of fight where the emotions are potentially more important than either’s skill as fighters. Although, the fact they are both weapons weighed heavily on the scene.

“That’s what each character is coming to terms with. Like Clint facing — in fact, wearing his dark past and potentially going to do the unspeakable. But the Clint side of him, the non-Ronin’s part of him, wanting to do the right thing,” Bertie said. “And Maya, having what she’s built her last few years of revenge on being shattered before her by this person she thinks is a demon. The show’s about shades of gray in character just in the way that she’s our villain, but she’s clearly not just a villain. And that Clint is her villain, [but] then she comes to realize that he’s not her villain.”


Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye in Marvel Studios' HAWKEYE. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

(Photo by Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios)

That exploration of Clint struck both directors as one of the great aspects of the series.

“In the Avengers, there are so many strong characters and Clint is the quiet hero. Suddenly, you find out what makes this quiet hero tick,” Bert said. “And a lot of it is about [him] not feeling like he’s a hero. Which … I feel like even talk to first responders these days, they’re the heroes, but they’re like, ‘no, no, I’m just doing my job.’ So, ultimately what is a hero?”

Bertie added: “I think a lot the fans wanted the larger exploration of all of the sides of Clint Barton and the Avengers films have so many characters to deal with. You can’t give everyone’s backstory, which is why Black Widow was such an incredible moment for Marvel fans. And Hawkeye‘s been that for Clint Barton. You get to really explore who they have been in their past and who, hopefully, [Clint and Kate] will become in their futures.”


On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.

Tag Cloud

FXX Netflix biopic Tarantino docudrama scary children's TV 2021 theme song Hulu Tokyo Olympics reviews witnail Pixar sag awards superhero Sci-Fi Countdown breaking bad cancelled dceu Britbox Amazon Studios halloween tv anime Amazon Prime Video Summer emmy awards james bond Lucasfilm cinemax 2020 AMC Plus President legend PBS Holiday Video Games versus Cannes The CW kaiju Epix jamie lee curtis Chernobyl NBA talk show The Witch aliens trophy Nickelodeon Sundance TV Anna Paquin robots 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards TV Land Ghostbusters italian cults Television Critics Association Trophy Talk women genre finale Disney+ Disney Plus Peacock Legendary HBO Max Shudder award winner boxing Super Bowl 90s Fantasy 24 frames National Geographic hidden camera Hallmark Christmas movies foreign christmas movies Sundance tv talk Musicals Mystery vs. Watching Series streaming A&E Exclusive Video Rocky rt archives cats what to watch 79th Golden Globes Awards boxoffice Interview elevated horror news RT History documentaries CW Seed telelvision black comedy The Purge Sony Pictures live action 93rd Oscars YouTube Premium reboot deadpool 21st Century Fox Mindy Kaling thriller Crackle renewed TV shows Year in Review crime thriller Rock Valentine's Day TIFF blockbusters Fox News Reality Film book adaptation Vudu posters richard e. Grant Tomatazos royal family RT21 superman debate Red Carpet Box Office Extras dexter screenings marvel comics golden globe awards television cancelled TV shows a nightmare on elm street Marvel Studios zero dark thirty Character Guide new zealand Ovation toy story American Society of Cinematographers San Diego Comic-Con Superheroes zombies child's play Holidays VOD satire politics Lionsgate 72 Emmy Awards Oscars mutant rotten movies we love TV One Pride Month DC Comics Captain marvel Alien BAFTA screen actors guild psycho sequel art house NBC Endgame Classic Film Set visit chucky Thanksgiving doctor who cops movies Lifetime Christmas movies ITV Pirates anthology toronto serial killer comics revenge documentary mockumentary comedies Emmys science fiction all-time Black History Month ViacomCBS saw APB critics ABC Signature political drama king arthur Warner Bros. DirecTV Columbia Pictures YouTube BBC One live event Syfy game of thrones high school natural history NYCC X-Men 2015 FX leaderboard Baby Yoda Paramount Network Nominations Martial Arts crime Reality Competition teaser venice IFC Films comic book movie Podcast spain Dark Horse Comics name the review singing competition Musical Mudbound criterion 4/20 free movies Awards miniseries new star wars movies Trivia Discovery Channel Quiz dramedy Rocketman Opinion ratings vampires Shondaland Spike The Walking Dead indiana jones Black Mirror nbcuniversal Broadway zombie USA Network First Look casting Drama MTV diversity green book batman classics slashers VH1 SXSW heist movie animated dc Toys movie suspense CBS laika OWN Pet Sematary king kong spider-verse series Marathons Tumblr Creative Arts Emmys ABC sopranos sitcom TV renewals Film Festival A24 spider-man MSNBC Winners technology young adult latino obituary rotten prank Turner Classic Movies scorecard football nfl TCA Disney Channel BBC America Best and Worst CBS All Access DC Universe MCU joker mission: impossible jurassic park Hear Us Out TCA Awards Pop TV Sneak Peek rt labs critics edition social media ghosts Amazon Prime Image Comics Marvel Television Paramount binge Universal Pictures Superheroe Crunchyroll game show Comic-Con@Home 2021 disaster Apple aapi Song of Ice and Fire WarnerMedia sports BBC Nat Geo true crime BET Funimation YA video on demand LGBTQ FX on Hulu AMC Academy Awards Writers Guild of America TCA 2017 GIFs pirates of the caribbean hollywood E! Spring TV Instagram Live Wes Anderson olympics Pop TV Certified Fresh crime drama PaleyFest Winter TV biography Western Tags: Comedy cartoon Neflix Apple TV Plus Prime Video international E3 IFC french DGA mob period drama adenture Kids & Family Masterpiece japan popular fast and furious monster movies dogs book blockbuster Biopics Showtime TBS History BET Awards spanish language SundanceTV Sundance Now Music IMDb TV streaming movies rom-coms Avengers psychological thriller TNT canceled quibi Disney streaming service Hallmark police drama worst cancelled TV series Freeform Infographic Comic Book comic books scary movies TLC slasher travel based on movie Lifetime franchise CNN WGN TruTV 2017 Rom-Com know your critic Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Travel Channel Bravo The Walt Disney Company trailers TCA Winter 2020 Hollywood Foreign Press Association archives Mary Tyler Moore GLAAD Schedule Women's History Month Comedy indie comic LGBT halloween unscripted golden globes 45 docuseries hispanic heritage month best harry potter cars south america Esquire OneApp El Rey blaxploitation Comedy Central fresh comiccon Adult Swim Election die hard Universal ID 1990s YouTube Red romantic comedy Cosplay romance marvel cinematic universe facebook Apple TV+ USA black Fox Searchlight festivals japanese Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Tubi Pacific Islander werewolf Emmy Nominations kong TCM See It Skip It 2016 Country 2018 sequels Turner independent universal monsters Calendar kids Marvel Star Trek Starz nature Mary Poppins Returns New York Comic Con 007 strong female leads dragons justice league Binge Guide transformers Netflix Christmas movies Awards Tour 71st Emmy Awards supernatural Star Wars Teen Horror target Amazon mcc crossover hispanic Logo Disney 73rd Emmy Awards Action dark Stephen King war ESPN feel good Brie Larson action-comedy SDCC godzilla 20th Century Fox Disney Plus new york razzies discovery stoner video 2019 wonder woman concert VICE scene in color Grammys stand-up comedy HBO Elton John FOX historical drama asian-american parents stop motion Acorn TV composers rt labs Family cooking HBO Go TV movies comic book movies dreamworks Christmas CMT spy thriller Paramount Plus HFPA DC streaming service Food Network directors critic resources gangster australia Fall TV First Reviews festival Comics on TV adaptation The Academy twilight hist lord of the rings 99% Polls and Games cancelled television basketball GoT spinoff adventure Ellie Kemper spanish worst movies Photos films medical drama Arrowverse Premiere Dates ABC Family Television Academy Fargo Trailer space Spectrum Originals Heroines Walt Disney Pictures Mary poppins PlayStation remakes canceled TV shows Animation The Arrangement Cartoon Network