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Wild ‘Hawkeye’ Theory: That’s Not Same Kingpin!

Same actor. New King.

Credit: Disney+

The Hawkeye finale was wild. But, it was also emotionally satisfying and great. That said, if you’re suddenly interested in Kingpin again, you may find that in rewatching Daredevil on Netflix, that these two Kingpins don’t really match up. This leads to the obvious question. Although Vincent D’Onofrio returned to play Kingpin in Hawkeye — reprising his role from the 2015-2018 Netflix series Daredevil —  there’s plenty to indicate that this is a NEW VERSION of Kingpin.

Yeah, that’s right. It may sound like a wild theory, but there’s plenty to back it up. The old Kingpin actor may be back, but this new MCU Kingpin seems very different from the Netflix Kingpin. Here’s why this may actually be an entirely new character. Spoilers ahead for Hawkeye Episode 6.

Kingpin’s fashion sense is new

First off, this Kingpin looks different. Granted: it’s the holidaze, but this Winston Fisk is sporting a white suit…with a Hawaiian shirt underneath it. This totally jives with the tracksuits’ whole deal — but the Winston Fisk of Daredevil wouldn’t have been caught dead in this getup. Hawkeye Fisk seemed happy enough to hang out in a chintzy back office with beads over the door; Daredevil Fisk made sure his apartment was the height of modern style. Throughout Daredevil, D’Onofrio’s Fisk was utterly deliberate in his style choices: one of the best scenes was him walking through his closet of the highest-end suits and crisp shirts. His wife, Vanessa, is an art dealer…and furthermore that Vanessa wouldn’t have allowed him out of the house looking like that. It’s a different guy, right?

Kingpin’s whole personality seems different

D’Onofrio plays this incarnation of Fisk differently from the jump. In his opening confrontation with Eleanor Bishop, he loses his temper quite quickly, his emotions bubbling up, his cheek twitching. Daredevil Fisk had the same nova-like anger and capacity for violence, but his whole thing was keeping this in check. He would lose his cool, and all of a sudden—like when he murdered a fellow inmate in the weight room. But until that moment he was able to control his emotions, to maintain his composure—and conduct himself with control. That’s not this version of Fisk.

Does Kingpin Have Superpowers now?

The directors of Hawkeye seem to have gone to pains to emphasize that this man has a different body, different abilities than Daredevil Fisk. Daredevil Fisk was immensely strong but on a more-or-less human scale. His battles with Matt Murdock were vicious, but they felt street-level real-world. They hit each other and got hurt: like really hurt. In Hawkeye, we have more of a Street Fighter-physics version of the character. When he hits Kate Bishop during their fight in the toy store, she flies across the room like she was hit by the Hulk…or maybe the Hulk on an off-day. He takes an arrow to the chest (ok, maybe Kevlar, but still…) and just keeps going. This Fisk is, well, more comic-book-y in his strength and fighting style. The other Fisk was a big dude, but he also had to go to the gym and work out. Again: different guy.

What does it all mean?

Well, first off it, it creates even more murkiness on whether or not the Netflix shows are part of the MCU or not. Characters like Fisk can show up, and even be played by the same actors, but these characters might be new versions of said characters. 

This has happened before. J.K. Simmons plays two different versions of J. Jonah Jameson. When he first showed up in Far From Home, it was obvious he wasn’t the same version of Jameson from the early aughts Spider-Man films. And, more recently, No Way Home has made that even clearer: Same actor, different Jameson.

Another sideways example was when Evan Peters appeared in WandaVision in a meta-mix-and-mangle of the character Quicksilver: Wanda’s brother, who died in the battle with Ultron, was played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, while Peters played a version of Quicksilver in 20th Century Fox’s X-Men universe. In the end, WandaVision was faking us out with this meta “recasting,” but the point stands: The same actor in a similar-ish role, doesn’t mean it’s the same version of that character. 

D’Onofrio’s appearance as Kingpin in Hawkeye, of course, could mean that the Netflix shows are retroactively part of the MCU, but because he seems like a new character, it feels more likely we’re just dealing with the same actor playing a modified version of the role. If this sounds confusing, know this: It’s very similar to how comic book logic actually works within comic books.

So is this the last we’ve seen of Kingpin in the MCU? If Charlie Cox’s cameo in No Way Home was indeed a tease of his place as Daredevil in the MCU, then who will be his big-bad? It’s hard to imagine Daredevil without Kingpin—but who knows. Echo will be having her own series, seemingly set after the events of what unfolds here. Will we learn what happened between her and…”Uncle”?

Hawkeye is streaming now on Disney+