The newest trailer for Avengers: Endgame focused a lot on the past, with flashbacks to Thor’s time on Asgard, Captain America’s time in World War II, and Iron Man’s time in the desert. But there was also a very interesting glimpse at the potential future of Marvel superheroes. One shot in the trailer shows Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) training a young brunette girl at archery. As EW’s Anthony Breznican noted in his trailer breakdown, this girl is too old to be Lila Barton, Hawkeye’s young daughter introduced in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Breznican, and many other fans on social media, have instead suggested an alternative explanation: Perhaps this young girl is none other than Kate Bishop.
That’s great and all, but uh, who is Kate Bishop? Your response to this question will differ based on whether you primarily know these superhero characters from movies or from comics, because Kate has made a big name for herself over the last decade of Marvel comics but hasn’t made it into a big-name adaptation — until now, possibly! But either way, let’s get everyone on the same page.
Kate was first introduced in Young Avengers #1 in 2005. That comic, written by Allen Heinberg and illustrated by Jim Cheung, served as Marvel’s answer to DC’s Teen Titans by introducing a bunch of vibrant young superheroes whose powers and backstories were roughly analogous to adult Avengers. Eli Bradley, for example, was the grandson of a black World War II veteran who had received an experimental version of the super-soldier serum even before Steve Rogers; he called himself Patriot. Kate, on the other hand, didn’t inherit any powers or tech; just her family’s immense wealth. She first met Eli and the other original Young Avengers — time-traveling Iron Lad, shapeshifting Hulkling, and magic-powered Asgardian (later Wiccan) — when they saved her and other guests at a fancy wedding from armed robbers. But she was intrigued by these superheroes, and followed them around until they had to acknowledge that she was as smart and capable as the best of them. Having taken archery classes before, she armed herself with Hawkeye’s old weapons stash and proved herself a superhero in her own right.
Clint Barton was dead at the time, which made it easier for Kate to take his superhero sobriquet. But even after Clint was resurrected (comics!), he was fine with Kate sharing the name. He even began mentoring her in the superhero trade; together they starred in the widely-acclaimed Hawkeye comic series by writer Matt Fraction and artist David Aja that lasted from 2012-2015. We get only the smallest taste of their dynamic in the Endgame trailer, but in the comics Clint served as a veteran mentor to Kate, while she brings some much-needed youthful energy to his crime-fighting enterprises. In other words, they play off each other really well.
Around the same time, Kate also hooked up with the Young Avengers again. This time, the team sported a significantly changed lineup. Foremost among the newcomers was America Chavez, a ridiculously powerful young woman hailing from a utopia dimension beyond space and time who is capable of punching holes in the multiverse. Kate and America developed a warm friendship that lasted even beyond the acclaimed Young Avengers series by writer Kieron Gillen and artist Jamie McKelvie. Kate is the one who sees Chavez off to college in the first issue of the America solo comic, and they reunited for a spring break road trip later in the series. If Brooklyn Nine-Nine actress Stephanie Beatriz ever gets her wish to play Chavez, and that really is Kate in the Endgame trailer, perhaps we’re only a few years away from seeing these gal pals fight evil together on the big screen.
After that, Kate spent some time on her own, running a private detective agency out of Los Angeles in her own solo Hawkeye comic written by Kelly Thompson. Considering how many Marvel superheroes are based out of New York City, there’s plenty of work for anyone willing to move to the West Coast. Eventually, Kate found she couldn’t handle it all on her own. She recruited Clint, Chavez, and other eccentric Marvel characters to come help her out in the West Coast Avengers series.
In other words, Kate has proved herself an integral part of the Marvel Universe over the last few years. But anyone looking for a short summary of her character and personality would do well by something Thompson told EW in 2016 when her Kate-focused Hawkeye comic first launched.
“I always come to the humor. She’s got such a great sense of humor,” Thompson told EW’s Nivea Serrao. “Matt Fraction’s run really started to see that there were a lot of layers to Kate. So even though she presents as this very light and funny ‘I can handle it all’ person, she’s definitely, like anyone, got some stuff going on beneath the surface that’s she’s hiding. I’d like for us to see some emotionally resonant stories where that’s backing up on her and she’s actively dealing with it and trying to solve it for herself. Kate’s really in an ‘I need to fix my life’ scenario. Also, she loves Clint but she also doesn’t want to become Clint. She can see the writing on the wall that she’s heading for that if she doesn’t get her crap in order and she wants to avoid that.”
Avengers: Endgame hits theaters on April 26.