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Why Hawkeyes big final twist is terrible for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans

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It has beenan interesting year for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans. So it should come as no surprise that Hawkeye (the last Marvel story of 2021) included one last blow to longtime fans of the ABC series.

Back in March, WandaVision threw the show’s place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe totally into question with its introduction of the Darkhold, a supernatural book that appeared in S.H.I.E.L.D. (and Runaways) but looks totally different in the Disney+ series. Meanwhile, several months later, the Loki premiere seemed to directly contradict a major Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. plot point.

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Now, with only a few more days to go in 2021, Marvel’s Hawkeye has ended with a twist that, once again, forces us to wonder whether or not Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is canon anymore. Warning! Spoilers ahead.

Who is Agent 19 in Marvel’s Hawkeye?

Laura Barton’s watch, as seen in Hawkeye Episode 6.Marvel Studios

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After drawing out the mystery for several weeks, Hawkeye Episode 6 confirms that the Rolex watch Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) was so intent on recapturing from the Tracksuit Mafia did, indeed, belong to his wife, Laura Barton (Linda Cardellini). The episode further reveals that the watch was one that Laura used to wear during her days as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent.

What’s even more interesting, however, is that the underside of Laura’s old watch not only features the S.H.I.E.L.D. emblem, but also the number “19” engraved underneath it. Shown very clearly in an insert shot at the end of Hawkeye Episode 6, the detail seems to confirm that Laura used to be Agent 19, the same code name given to Bobbi Morse (aka, Mockingbird) in the comics.

Agent 19 and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

On its own, Cardellini’s Laura Barton being a version of Mockingbird makes a lot of sense. In the comics, Mockingbird and Clint have not only frequently teamed up to fight crime together but have also gotten married. It seems only logical that Clint’s wife in the MCU would also be Mockingbird. The only problem is that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. already featured a version of Mockingbird in the form of Adrianne Palicki’s Bobbi Morse.

Taking that into account, Hawkeye’s Rolex reveal essentially raises two possibilities about Palicki’s Bobbi Morse. The first is that she simply took over the Mockingbird call sign and Agent 19 designation after Laura Barton retired. That’s totally possible. After all, if 007 is a code name that can be adopted by multiple characters, there’s no reason to believe the same rule doesn’t apply to Marvel’s Agent 19.

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Alternatively, it’s possible this Hawkeye twist confirms, once and for all, that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is either no longer canon within the MCU or that its characters and storylines all exist in a different universe than the one that most of Marvel’s TV shows and films are set in. Unfortunately, coming off the moments of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. erasure committed by WandaVision and Loki earlier this year, both explanations seem possible right now.

Adrianne Palicki as Bobbi Morse AKA Mockingbird in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.ABC

The Inverse Analysis — Much to the frustration of fans everywhere, Marvel Studios has been consistently tight-lipped this year about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s place within MCU canon. The studio’s silence has, predictably, led many fans to believe that the beloved ABC show is being quietly erased from the MCU in order to make space for Marvel’s new TV titles — along with the reintroduction of characters from the Marvel/Netflix shows.

Until the studio decides to make an official statement on the matter, it’s impossible to know for sure what the truth is one way or the other. Whether it’s canon or not though, WandaVision, Loki, and Hawkeye all seem to prove that Marvel really couldn’t care less about what Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. did or didn’t do.

Hawkeye is streaming now on Disney+.

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