Hailee Steinfeld is the latest star to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a major Avenger. Disney+’s Hawkeye saw Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton passing on his mantle as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes’ resident archer to a worthy successor, Kate Bishop. Steinfeld’s fun, likable, compelling performance as Kate is one of the things that made the show such a resounding success.
Kate is just the latest role that Steinfeld has knocked out of the park. In shows like Dickinson and movies like True Grit and The Edge of Seventeen, Steinfeld has been giving similarly terrific performances for years.
2 Kate Bishop Is The Best
Kate Is A New Kind Of Marvel Hero
After more than 20 movies, the Marvel formula is pretty well-worn. Previous Avenger actors have laid out the template for how a Marvel superhero should be played. But in Hawkeye, Steinfeld plays an entirely new kind of MCU hero.
Mourning the death of a father is nothing new for the MCU’s superheroes, but Kate has to contend with a mother who’s concerned about the danger she’s in. No MCU hero’s mother has worried about them before. Even Aunt May supported Peter Parker’s superheroics after finding out he was Spider-Man. Steinfeld’s performance opposite Vera Farmiga as Kate’s shady mother broke new ground in a formulaic, more than decade-long franchise.
Steinfeld Shares Impeccable Chemistry With Jeremy Renner
Steinfeld shares incredible on-screen chemistry with her co-star, long-time Avenger Jeremy Renner. They have a tangible connection as, in Kate’s words, “partners slash best friends.” Clint and Kate don’t just generically bicker like most Marvel duos. They nail the comic banter, but they go above and beyond the standard Marvel chemistry with a real dramatic dynamic.
When a scene turns serious, like Kate prodding Clint for a story that he doesn’t want to tell, Steinfeld and Renner are perfectly in tune with the tonal shift. A few times throughout the series, they captured something real, like Kate helping Clint to communicate with his son over the phone without the use of his hearing aid.
Kate Is Universally Relatable
Kate is one of the most universally relatable heroes in the MCU. She grew up in a rich family, which isn’t very relatable, but in Steinfeld’s hands, Kate’s naivety, lack of experience, and fierce determination to do the right thing make her real and identifiable.
All of Kate’s best qualities are marred by a relatable weakness: she’s confident but awkward; she’s a proficient fighter but makes plenty of mistakes in combat.
By The End, Kate Is A Bona Fide Superhero
At the beginning of the Hawkeye series, Kate is just a naive kid, which is why Clint is reluctant to let her become an Avenger. By the end of it, Steinfeld has taken the character on a journey to become a bona fide superhero, convincing Clint that she has what it takes to join Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and accept the risk and responsibility that comes along with it.
When she slides onto the ice-skating rink in the finale to help Clint fight the Tracksuit Mafia, Kate embodies what superheroes represent. She runs toward danger, not away from it. Kate faces the Kingpin in hand-to-hand combat and manages to win.
Kate Is Primed For A Bright Future
Steinfeld is no stranger to sequel-driven storytelling, having appeared in the Pitch Perfect and Spider-Verse franchises, but the Marvel Cinematic Universe is its own beast entirely. Kate is primed for a bright future in the MCU, potentially leading the Young Avengers, so Steinfeld will probably end up playing this character far more times than any other role.
Like fellow Marvel actors Robert Downey, Jr. and Chris Evans, Steinfeld will be given the time to really explore this character over a long period of time. Hawkeye is just the beginning.
Charlie Watson In Bumblebee
More than 10 years into the Transformers franchise, film critics had pretty much given up on the hope that they’d go to see one and be moved. But the series’ first spin-off, Bumblebee, managed to break the mold. A far cry from the self-seriousness and “Bayhem” of the Michael Bay films, Bumblebee is a lighthearted ‘80s-set romp that’s ultimately about the power of friendship.
Steinfeld gives a fantastic performance in the lead role as teenage mechanic Charlie Watson, who’s essentially Elliott to Bumblebee’s E.T., wrapped up in her own coming-of-age dramedy inside a sci-fi actioner. Steinfeld creates an emotionally engaging on-screen dynamic with a computer-generated alien robot that can disguise itself as a car.
Nadine Franklin In The Edge Of Seventeen
Steinfeld first honed the authentic awkwardness she brought to Kate Bishop in the role of Nadine Franklin in the coming-of-age gem The Edge of Seventeen. Nadine’s teenage years are marked by traumatic experiences, from watching her dad die in front of her while driving a car to catching her best friend in bed with her brother.
As Nadine moves from one terrible life event to the next, Steinfeld nails the adolescent struggle to find happiness, connect with people, and settle on an identity. She’s nihilistic, but she’s also easy to root for.
Gwen Stacy / Spider-Woman In Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
Shameik Moore is the undeniable star of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse as a nuanced, captivating Miles Morales, but he has strong support from Jake Johnson as his reluctant mentor Peter B. Parker and Steinfeld as a spider-powered variant of Gwen Stacy.
It’s not easy to create a dynamic between animated characters due to the disconnect of voice acting, but Moore’s Miles and Steinfeld’s Gwen develop such a palpable friendship throughout Into the Spider-Verse that it’s heartbreaking when she returns to her own universe.
Emily Dickinson In Dickinson
Steinfeld starred in the Apple TV+ comedy Dickinson for three seasons. The show revolves around legendary poet Emily Dickinson, framed as a coming-of-age story with a modern sensibility.
In a recent interview, Steinfeld explained the similarities between Emily Dickinson and Kate Bishop: “They are both heroines in their own right, share a drive, wit, and passion – and it made me grateful for having spent so much time with a character like Emily.”
Mattie Ross In True Grit
Steinfeld’s breakout performance is still one of her best. When the Coen brothers re-adapted True Grit for the big screen, they refocused the story on Mattie Ross. The 1969 original focused on U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn so it could be a starring vehicle for John Wayne, but the Coens more faithfully followed Mattie, the 14-year-old girl who hires him to track down her father’s killer.
As the enthusiastic yet naive protégé of a grizzled, aging crimefighter, Mattie is a lot like Kate Bishop. Steinfeld’s performance in True Grit outshined seasoned A-listers like Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon and earned her Academy Award, BAFTA, and SAG Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress.
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