All of Disney+’s Marvel Cinematic Universe shows have had some fun with secret villains, whether that means someone turning out to be a bad guy at the end, like The Falcon And The Winter Soldier’s Sharon Carter. Elsewhere, they’ve made a point to hype up someone pulling the strings behind the scenes in order to let fans pick at clues and make their own theories, like the then-convincing argument that Magneto might show up on WandaVision or the reveal on Loki that He Who Remains was none other than time-hopping villain Kang The Conqueror.
We’re three episodes in on Hawkeye, and the show just introduced its own big villain tease: Who is the “man at the top,” running things for the Tracksuit Mafia? That’s how Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton described him when explaining to Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop that the Tracksuits are into some more evil stuff than their bumbling, Imagine Dragon-loving antics might imply.
Kate assumes that the Tracksuits answer to Maya (Alaqua Cox), the deaf badass who very nearly beats her and Hawkeye’s butts this episode, but it seems like she really works for this “man at the top”—who is also presumably the mysterious “uncle” who picked her up from karate practice as a kid, as seen in the episode’s opening flashback.
But who is this guy? Hawkeye isn’t ready to say just yet, but it did offer a couple of enormous clues. For starters, a “man at the top” of a criminal organization? In the Marvel universe? Sort of like a… kingpin? Maybe the Kingpin, a.k.a. Wilson Fisk? Yes, it seems like Hawkeye has offered up a tease that fans of Netflix’s dearly departed Marvel shows have been waiting years for, and this isn’t even a “well, it would make sense” leap, like the theory about Magneto being in WandaVision. This really seems to be the direction the show is heading in.
In the comics, the character Maya is better known as Echo, a trained assassin who has the ability to perfectly mimic the fighting styles of other people. Though she’s currently a good guy (and even wields the Phoenix Force, but let’s not get into that), Echo was initially a Daredevil villain who was hired to kill the Man Without Fear by none other than the Kingpin. Better yet, comics Echo was actually raised by the Kingpin after her father was murdered, which lines up nicely with the events of Hawkeye, which features her father’s death at the hands of Ronin.
“Echoes,” the third episode of Hawkeye, takes things one step further with the brief glimpse of an “uncle” during the flashback to Maya’s childhood. The show tellingly leaves him outside of the camera’s field of view, keeping the focus low to the ground to capture Maya’s perspective. That gives him a big and intimidating presence, implying that he’s possibly a bad guy even before we find out that Maya’s father is part of the Tracksuit Mafia. But he also indicates that he cares for young Maya with a friendly little laugh.
A friendly little laugh that happens to sound exactly like the voice of Vincent D’Onofrio, who played Wilson Fisk on Netflix’s Daredevil. D’Onofrio has regularly denied rumors that he’s coming to the MCU to reprise his role as Fisk, even as the internet continues to assume that it’s just a matter of time before Charlie Cox’s Daredevil makes that same leap (possibly as soon as in Spider-Man: No Way Home), but he has said that the character means a lot to him. Back in November, he even retweeted a Hawkeye trailer with a comment about how much he loves these Marvel shows.
On top of that, Alaqua Cox’s Maya is getting her own spin-off show at some point, which seems like a perfect way to reintegrate characters that she has relationships with in the comics—like Kingpin and Daredevil—into the MCU. So as fun as this fan theory is, it also seems like it might not just be a fan theory at all. As famous comic book journalist Ben Urich has discovered time and time again, the Kingpin might really be behind all of this.