How Christmas-set Marvel series 'Hawkeye' was inspired by 'Die Hard' and 'Home Alone'

Hawkeye is not the first Marvel Cinematic Universe property to be set during the December holidays — that would be 2013’s Iron Man 3 — but there’s no doubt the new Disney+ series is the closest thing Marvel has dropped to a Christmas special.

The story, of course, follows its eponymous Avenger, aka Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), who is just trying to show his three kids a good yuletide time in New York City when he’s thrust into action after spotting someone posing as his Snap-era alter ego vigilante Ronin. That impostor is young archer Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), who, as comic book fans know, is poised to eventually take over the mantle of Hawkeye in the MCU, with this series marking a passing of the bow and arrow.

“We wanted to figure out a way to set it apart from all the series that have come out, and all the series that are coming out [in the future],” executive producer Trinh Tran (Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame) told us ahead of the debut of the fifth MCU series to premiere on Disney+ this year following WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki and What If?. “And we love the holidays. We love holiday events. And other than Iron Man 3, we haven’t really [dove] into that area. And out of all the characters, Clint Barton made the most sense. He is one of the few Avengers with the family, with kids. Family is central to him, and especially after Endgame where he lost his family [to Thanos’s snap], took on a different persona for five years, and then got his family back. He’s lost all this time, yet then again, he [gets stuck] on this mission where there’s a ticking clock of, is he going to get home in time to spend the holidays?”

If that sounds like a premise derived from other bona fide Christmas classics like Die Hard (1988) and Home Alone (1990), that’s by design. Both were major influences on Hawkeye.

Hailee Steinfeld and Jeremy Renner in 'Hawkeye' (Disney+)
Hailee Steinfeld and Jeremy Renner in 'Hawkeye' (Photo: Disney+/Marvel Studios)

“There’s definitely that style in there,” Tran says of the show’s Die Hard DNA.

“There’s Home Alone, that I really love as well, too. Die Hard obviously has the action, has that character. So we looked at a ton of them. We looked at different Christmas music as well, too. But most importantly was also, ‘How do we integrate it and maintain that feeling that we’re after in all the projects that we have created?’

The cast was fully onboard with Marvel’s polar express.

“The fact that this takes place during the holiday time, it’s beautiful and wonderful and lovely and heartfelt and emotional,” says Steinfeld (Pitch Perfect, Bumblebee). “But it’s also complicated and there’s a lot of layers and a lot of depth, and a lot that can go wrong, a lot that doesgo wrong. … But I love that that’s the backdrop of our show and plays such a huge part of it.”

Or as Renner puts it simply: “The best gifts come wrapped in a bow, duh.”

Watch our full interview with Tran, Renner, Steinfeld and co-stars Vera Farmiga and Tony Dalton above.

Video produced by Anne Lilburn and edited by Steve Michel

Hawkeye premieres Wednesday on Disney+ and concludes, fittingly enough, just three days before Christmas on Dec. 22.