Hawkeye: What’s hidden in plain sight in episode 2

Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye and Hailee Steinfeld as Kate Bishop in Marvel Studios' HAWKEYE. Photo by Mary Cybulski. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.
Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye and Hailee Steinfeld as Kate Bishop in Marvel Studios' HAWKEYE. Photo by Mary Cybulski. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved. /
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Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye in Marvel Studios’ HAWKEYE. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All RIghts Reserved. /

Cosplayers and LARPers

Speaking of bad outfits, it seems that people wearing tacky costumes (as opposed to the real superheroes) have become a consistent theme in Hawkeye. Once again, we see the performers of Rogers: The Musical doing their song and dance routine, this time on television screens. We see people dressed as Avengers and “Katniss Everdeen” from The Hunger Games in Times Square. And, of course, there’s Clint misadventure with the LARPing community as he desperately tries to get the Ronin suit back.

Yet while Rogers: The Musical is fictitious (though inspired by actual musicals as we explained last time), the costumed performers at Times Square and LARPing are real.

Now there’s always been street performers in major metropolitan cities. Yet within the last two decades, more street performers have taken to wearing costumes from various cartoons, children’s programs, movies, and pop culture. No coincidence then that with the rise in popularity of superhero movies, there also came increase in performers dressing up like superheroes, particularly Marvel superheroes. As profiled in a New York Times article from 2014, while these performers mostly just pose in front of cameras or take selfies with tourists, they can earn between $80 to $200 a day, more on weekends and holidays.

There’s also been several not-so-heroic altercations by some of these performers, too, including harassment, assault, groping, attacking police officers, making racial slurs, and general disturbance of the peace. It got so bad that then New York City mayor, Bill De Blassio ordered a NYPD “crackdown” and demanded regulation. Two years later, the New York City council passed an ordinance stating that costumed street performers could only perform in designated “activity zones” or face fines and time in jail.

As for LARPing, or Live Action Role Playing, this too has been around for some time, going as far back as the late 1970s. It’s also seen in surge in popularity in recent years, thanks to Tabletop RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons, Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Game of Thrones. As shown in “Hide and Seek,” participants create a character – complete with backstory, personality, and skills – don homemade equipment, armor, and weapons (or birdseed packets for spells) and essentially perform outdoor improv theater mixed with scavenger hunting, a Renaissance fair, and tag. In other words, it’s tabletop roleplaying without the dice.

LARPing has also been the subject of documentaries such as Darkon (2006), and comedies like Role Models (2008) starring Paul Rudd and Knights of Badassdom (2013) starring Peter Dinklage. And while here, in the United States, it’s considered a bizarre hobby, it’s really taken off in other countries, especially Germany, Sweden, the UK, and Norway. But whether you take it seriously or not, it does serve as a hilarious contrast for Clint being an actual superhero forced to participate among those who are pretending to be superheroes. And to be honest, it does look like a lot of fun.

Which reminds me, the LARPer whom Clint tries to get the Ronin suit back from? His name is Grills, who also happens to be a supporting character from Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye series.