‘Hawkeye’: Everything You Need to Know About Agent 19, Explained


Fans of the MCU have plenty to be excited about. The record-breaking Spider-Man: No Way Home opened up the world to the multiverse and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness shook it all up. Still, avid comic readers can wade into these guessing games armed with some background information. Plenty of non-MCU Marvel movies from years past have adapted the comics very freely (the original X-Men) or ignored key aspects of the source material (looking at you, Deadpool from X-Men Origins: Wolverine). Readers familiar with a certain hearing impaired archer were rewarded by the Hawkeye series on Disney+, which draws heavily from the celebrated comic book run by Matt Fraction, David Aja, Matt Hollingsworth, and other brilliant collaborators.

Hawkeye’s finale made canon for the MCU something fans have been theorizing about for quite some time: not only is Hawkeye/Clint Barton’s (Jeremy Renner) wife Laura Barton (Linda Cardellini) a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, she’s actually Agent 19, also known as Mockingbird. This is a big development for two reasons: it suggests that Cardellini’s Mockingbird will have a role to play in the MCU going forward, and the MCU is not done with Renner’s Hawkeye just yet.

Who is Mockingbird?

The character who would become Dr. Barbara “Bobbi” Morse, AKA Mockingbird, first showed up in Astonishing Tales #6 in 1971, as an unnamed supporting character. She became a love interest of the obscure superhero Ka-Zar. The Tarzan-like Ka-Zar lived in the prehistoric Savage Land, a staple of various runs of X-Men comics which has yet to be seen on the big screen. Over the years, she gained the name “Barbara,” and her background as a “lady biologist.” She became a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and then very briefly took on the superhero identity “Huntress.”

Bobbi’s Huntress persona lasted for a single one-off issue of Marvel Super Action. The recession of the mid-Seventies forced a lot of publications to cut back on their intended output, and further adventures of Marvel’s Huntress were abandoned. By 1980, DC Comics had introduced their own Huntress, so that moniker was retired (a development over-explained away in Marvel Team-Up #95), and Bobbi Morse finally becomes Mockingbird.

Mockingbird & Hawkeye

Bobbi Morse’s first sustained adventure as Mockingbird has her teaming up with Clint Barton/Hawkeye to root out corruption at a tech company run by Darren Cross, the villain of the MCU’s Ant-Man. The two of them end up married by the end of the four-issue run.

The two characters wind up being integral to the West Coast Avengers series throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s. Mockingbird and Hawkeye eventually split up (after misadventures involving an unfortunate brainwashing storyline, during which Mockingbird is strongly suggested to have been raped), but then reconcile. The character dies during a storyline that pits Hawkeye against Mephisto, but since no one stays dead in the comics for long, she is eventually resurrected. Mockingbird returned in a big way during the famed Secret Invasion run in 2009, where she was impersonated by a Skrull shapeshifter for a time.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Casual fans will most likely be familiar with the first live-action incarnation of Bobbi Morse, as played by The Orville’s Adrianne Palicki in ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. This is where things get complicated when it comes to Cardellini’s MCU reveal.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premiered in 2013, some five years into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (launched by 2008’s Iron Man). At first, the show seemed ready to deliver on the promise to augment and expand the movie universe with semi-serialized television adventures. Headlined by fan-favorite Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), who was killed in 2012’s Avengers and revived for the show, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. featured storylines which dovetailed nicely with the MCU films of the period.

AoS introduced the alien race known as the Kree into the MCU before their central role in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Hydra’s infiltration of S.H.I.E.L.D., revealed in 2013’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, had a direct impact on the series. The episodes surrounding the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015 similarly fed into that film’s third-act resolution. However, by 2016, the MCU films seemed to quietly ignore the show’s major developments, such as the Terrigen “contamination” which created countless new super-powered people. This led directly into the debut of Inhumans, which was once floated as an MCU movie but was retooled into a show which ran on ABC for just one season.

Palicki’s Mockingbird debuted during AoS’s second season, where Bobbi Morse is introduced as an apparent Hydra agent. In line with the character’s comic book roots as a spy, we soon realize Mockingbird had infiltrated Hydra to protect S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge). The small-screen Mockingbird quickly became a fan-favorite thanks to Palicki’s committed, tough-as-nails performance. ABC ordered a pilot for the series Marvel’s Most Wanted featuring Palicki and her co-star Nick Blood as Lance Hunter, however the studio did not pick up the series. Calls for a Mockingbird series starring Palicki persisted for years, beyond the series’ conclusion in late 2020.

The Two Mockingbirds

Our final glimpse of Cardellini’s Laura Barton leaves her happily reunited with Clint and her family. After his adventures with Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), Clint torched his Ronin suit and persona for good, returning home with Kate in tow. He also managed to recover a Rolex watch with “19” engraved on the back, just below the S.H.I.E.L.D. emblem. A watch is an age-old symbol of retirement, so we’re safe in assuming Laura was once known as Agent 19. Whether she ever went by the name Mockingbird has not been confirmed by the creative team behind Hawkeye, but given how far the MCU has strayed from the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continuity, it’s likely we’ll have that confirmation at some point in the future.

Where does the end of Hawkeye leave the two Mockingbirds? This remains unclear, but we can say with absolute certainty that the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continuity and the larger MCU continuity have evidently permanently diverged. In the series, Palicki’s Bobbi Morse reunites with her ex-husband, British mercenary Lance Hunter, and they have to leave S.H.I.E.L.D. in order to protect its existence (in what was meant to lead into the Marvel’s Most Wanted plot).

With the shakeup of the alternate realities and universes, it’s technically possible that Palicki’s Mockingbird might show up again in this context, but we shouldn’t bet on it. Kate Bishop and Clint Barton’s partnership has been firmly established by now, and any further adventures will almost certainly include Cardellini’s Mockingbird.

Barton might really want to stay retired, but with Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin/Wilson Fisk still out there — not to mention Kate’s mother Eleanor Bishop (Vera Farmiga) quite likely to emerge from prison wanting revenge — we should expect Laura Barton to suit up as Mockingbird at some point. Don’t be surprised if her old friends call her “Bobbi.”

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