Hawkeye Episode 5 Suggests That, Yes, Those ARE Canon

Just like the all-too-short holiday season itself, "Hawkeye" is rapidly speeding toward its conclusion after feeling like it had only just begun. With five episodes down and only one more to go, the big picture of the series is falling into place — even as more and more plates are left spinning. Though Maya Lopez's (Alaqua Cox) vendetta against Ronin for killing her crime boss father has accounted for most of the conflict in the series, last week gave us the surprise appearance of a wild card in the mix: Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) and her own vengeful mission against the Avenger she holds accountable for the death of her sister, Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson). Meanwhile, the backbone of the show to this point underwent its biggest test as Clint Barton and Kate Bishop's partnership came to a grinding halt at the end of episode four, the aptly-named "Partners, Am I Right?" Through it all, we've continued to receive hint after hint indicating that a much larger force may be at play here.

Episode five, "Ronin," picks up in the immediate aftermath of these events and admirably prioritizes dealing with the respective low points for our two main heroes over simply shuffling the pieces into place ahead of the season finale ... but that doesn't mean there aren't any game-changing revelations to be found here. The final moments of last night's episode finally confirm one of the MCU's biggest shake-ups yet, though we won't pull a Tom Holland and blurt any of it out here. Keep reading to dive into the ramifications that "Hawkeye" will now have on the rest of the MCU.

Major Spoilers for "Hawkeye" episode 5 follow!

The Man Behind the Curtain

"You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch..."

In case you've been living under a rock and somehow hadn't picked up on it by now, "Hawkeye" is a Christmas show and is proud to be one. As we all know, however, any story that embraces the holiday spirit to this extent deserves a villain who is equally as committed to ruining the festivities for everyone. Up to this point, we've been led to believe that the baddies attempting to steal everyone's Christmas cheer are the endearingly dude-bro and ineffectual Tracksuit Mafia, their figureheads Maya and the increasingly sinister Kazi (portrayed by Fra Fee), the party-crashing Yelena Belova, and Tony Dalton's intrusive Jack Duquesne. But with all due respect to these characters and their very capable actors, none of them have quite been able to cast enough of a shadow to pose a serious threat to our heroes. These antagonists are either likely to be one-and-done villains or aren't even irredeemable villains in the first place, with the promise of more complex roles to come hanging over their heads.

No, while "Hawkeye" might have street-level stakes, it has also needed an infusion of a major street-level big bad in the form of Maya's mysterious "uncle," who has been heavily implied to be the man behind the curtain amid all this plot maneuvering. That man, of course, is none other than Vincent D'Onofrio's Wilson Fisk (aka Kingpin), who has finally been confirmed to be making his real MCU debut after previously starring throughout multiple seasons of the popular (though now-canceled) Marvel Netflix series, "Daredevil." The waning moments of episode five kick this plot line into overdrive, with Yelena doing a little snooping around to find out who exactly has contracted her to kill Clint Barton. The shocking twist, as it turns out, goes beyond the damning involvement of Kate's mother Eleanor and all the way to the top (or, er, bottom?) of New York City's criminal underworld. With one text to Kate and one very cheeky end-credits needle drop of one of pop culture's most notorious Christmas villains, "Hawkeye" has finally played its last card and set up one explosive season finale.

In the process, Marvel has gone ahead and made the previously tenuous connections to Marvel's Netflix universe that much stronger.

Are the Netflix Shows MCU Canon Now?

This ought to be straightforward enough, right? With Vincent D'Onofrio making his proper MCU debut in "Hawkeye" by portraying the character he embodied so menacingly in "Daredevil," doesn't that clearly indicate that Marvel Studios is making "Daredevil" — and all the rest of the Netflix shows, for that matter — officially canon with the interconnected films and Disney+ shows? Of course, there's also the matter of Kevin Feige somehow threading the needle between saying absolutely nothing and officially confirming the return of Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock/Daredevil ... should the character ever actually appear in the future, of course. The question remains, however: does this mean the MCU is about to start acknowledging the Netflix shows?

Though such an issue is broad enough to merit an entire article all to itself, we can at least feel confident now that Marvel is not going to shy away from picking and choosing elements of the Netflix shows that were positively received among fans and bring them over to the ongoing MCU. To many, Charlie Cox simply is Daredevil and Vincent D'Onofrio simply is Wilson Fisk. For a franchise that has built as much staying power as the MCU has, it makes absolutely no sense to throw away otherwise perfect casting choices because of something as frivolous as the murky connections between Marvel Studios proper, which Kevin Feige & Co. are in charge of, and the separate division of Marvel Television, which produced the Netflix shows.

With D'Onofrio's Kingpin now confirmed to appear in "Hawkeye" in the flesh (or, well, at least a grainy cell phone picture of him for now), we'll have to stay tuned to next week's episode to see how Marvel chooses to address this tricky topic. Will he explicitly address events that took place during "Daredevil," making it clear beyond all doubt that this version of Kingpin is one and the same in every possible way? Or will Marvel Studios only acknowledge the broad strokes of his backstory — he had a tough childhood, he loves Vanessa, Daredevil beat him and got him locked away in prison, etc — and move on, counting on the relief from fans that he's even a part of the proper MCU at all? Hopefully, episode six of "Hawkeye" will make this all clear.