A last-minute villain swap became Kingpin Hawkeye’s primary foe:

Hawkeye's Last Minute Villain Change
Hawkeye’s Last Minute Villain Change Ruined A Perfect Twist

A last-minute villain switch made Kingpin the main nemesis of Hawkeye, but the choice inadvertently wrecked a wonderful twist. In some ways, every Disney+ TV series has been a variation on the same theme: there’s a secret villain lurking in the shadows, manipulating events throughout the programme. Agatha Harkness played it in WandaVision, He Who Remains in Loki, Sharon Carter’s Power Broker in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and-of course-the Kingpin in Hawkeye. It’s impossible to picture Hawkeye without the Kingpin, whose influence hovers over the show from the first mention of the “Big Guy” in episode 1. Surprisingly, he was a late addition to the team. According to Hawkeye director Rhys Thomas, Marvel was initially interested in “this other ‘big evil guy.'” However, a Marvel official approached him and recommended that Kingpin be the villain. Everything fit into place-perhaps a bit too cleanly, given how obvious the villain twist was. This naturally begs the question of who the initial villain was; the most plausible candidate is Fra Fee’s Kazi.

The choice to turn towards Kingpin appears to have squandered a brilliant twist:

A Still of Vincent D'Onofrio's Kingpin in 'Hawkeye
A Still of Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin in ‘Hawkeye

Assuming this is correct, the choice to swing towards the Kingpin appears to have unintentionally botched a brilliant twist. In the final version of Hawkeye, Echo’s subordinate is reported directly to the Kingpin. He reportedly betrayed Echo’s father on Kingpin’s instructions, resulting in his death by Ronin – an act of treachery that remains strangely inexplicable, given the series never tells why Kingpin wanted Echo’s father dead in the first place, or even what Kazi benefited from it all. That motive would have been obvious if he had been shown to be the genuine villain, since he would have been the manipulative mastermind – the one who preferred to govern from the shadows, enabling Echo to appear to be in command while exploiting his connection with her to keep her in line. According to that version, Echo’s father was murdered because he was either resistive to Kazi’s manipulations or starting to see through him. In any scenario, Ronin was only a tool.

Echo obviously felt Kingpin’s treachery to be quite personal:

A Still Of Alaqua Cox's Maya Lopez aka Echo
A Still Of Alaqua Cox’s Maya Lopez aka Echo

Echo undoubtedly felt Kingpin’s treachery was extremely personal, but viewers didn’t really feel the full impact of it all since Echo and Kingpin had had so few scenes together. A Kazi villain twist, on the other hand, would have had a significantly more emotional effect. Because of the love relationship Kazi had with Echo, it would have had a very evil aspect to it, giving Hawkeye a much sharper edge.

Unfortunately, Hawkeye essentially squandered Kazi:

A Look At Fra Fee's Kazi From Hawkeye TV Series
A Look At Fra Fee’s Kazi From Hawkeye TV Series

Unfortunately, Hawkeye mostly squandered Kazi, a comic book villain dubbed “The Clown” who was recruited by the Tracksuit Mafia to murder the Hawkeyes. He had a particularly bleak past with Hawkeye, and in the comics, he was personally responsible for Clint Barton’s hearing loss. It’s easy to understand how that may have played a role in the plot. Kazi may have duped Hawkeye into killing Echo’s father, then badly injured him, forcing him to flee New York, leaving him at a loose end from his time as Ronin. In terms of narrative impact, a Kazi villain twist would have been far more impactful than Kingpin’s-but it is unlikely to have been as well-received simply because most modern Marvel viewers are more invested in villains like Kingpin, who can go on to have a significant impact on the MCU in the future, rather than enemies whose stories are rather more self-contained. Marvel made the correct decision with Hawkeye, even if it resulted in a worse series overall.

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