Despite being one of the OG six Avengers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) is usually forgotten at worst and overlooked at best. That’s been the long-running joke in the MCU and IRL, so it’s not surprising that he never had his own theme until Disney+’s “Hawkeye” came along. And composers Christophe Beck, an Emmy winner who was nominated last year for “WandaVision,” and Michael Paraskevas jumped at the opportunity to give the archer some signature music at long last.
“It’s an amazing feeling, especially with a franchise as storied and as vast as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The opportunity to set the tone for a character is one that I relish,” Beck tells Gold Derby in an interview with Paraskevas (watch the exclusive video interview above). “I loved doing it for Wanda and Vision in ‘WandaVision,’ and especially here because, as you mentioned, he’s kind of an afterthought. That’s part of the running joke inside the universe, so it’s great to finally give him his due.”
Not only did Beck and Paraskevas get to give Clint his musical due, but they had the additional fun challenge of working in Christmas magic into their cues as the show is set during Christmastime. The duo utilized synthesizers and special audio processing — “wintery-feeling electronics,” as Beck dubs them — to put their own spin on bell-like sounds, which can be heard in the percussive and heroic “Hawkeye’s Theme.” “Another thing we did too was in the first episode and in the last episode, we rearranged a popular Christmas tune to fit the underscore, so we did ‘Carol of the Bells’ in Episode 1 and Episode 6 has an arrangement of ‘Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy,'” Paraskevas adds. “So it was very classic, familiar tunes kind of reappropriated into a new tension and kind of really set that mood with the Christmas spirit.”
Among the new MCU characters they composed for was, of course, Kate (Hailee Steinfeld), Hawkeye’s No. 1 fan who so desperately wants to be partners with him (and chalks up his low visibility to a branding issue). While Clint is an exhausted dude who just wants to retire from superhero-ing, Kate is a gung-ho upstart, and that eagerness is reflected in her motif, which eventually blends together with Hawkeye’s theme.
“We talked about how she has that kind of rebellious, kind of punk teenager attitude. We get a lot of that in her theme and the way we use it throughout the series. She’s not afraid to break the rules and do her whole thing,” Paraskevas states. “There are a couple moments where we actually superimpose her theme and the Hawkeye theme, like in the warehouse fight — that was a big one — and at the very end when they’re fighting on the ice rink. And you hear both themes playing at once. That was really cool how they were able to work together.”
Hardcore fans will also note another kind of thematic continuity in “Hawkeye.” As Yelena (Florence Pugh) arrives in the back half of the series to avenge the death of her sister Natasha (Scarlett Johansson), which she thinks was at the hands of Clint, pieces of Alan Silvestri‘s “Even for You” from “Avengers: Infinity War” (2018) and Lorne Balfe‘s theme for Yelena from last year’s “Black Widow” can be heard in Beck and Paraskevas’ compositions.
“I can speak for myself. When I get an opportunity to reference from an earlier movie or an existing character theme, I think it only serves to make the entire tapestry, storytelling-wise and music-wise, more cohesive,” Beck shares. “It works on a subconscious level and for superfans, it works on a conscious level. [They] are very, very, very attentive to all manner of Easter eggs in all Marvel projects and are rewarded because there’s lots of them. And it’s great to be part of that culture as well — to drop in those Easter eggs that are musical.”
Another treat for fans closely studying the “Hawkeye” soundtrack? Amazing track title puns. They include “Carol of the Buy & Sells,” “Bows of Holly,” “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Clint’s Mess,” “Barton Funk,” “Yuletide Fray,” “Bone & Marrow” and “A Christmas Peril.” Beck gives all the credit to Paraskevas, who assisted him on his scores for “WandaVision” and “Ant-Man and the Wasp” (2018). “Let me just say I’ve been a pun lover my entire life and now you’ve hit upon the real reason why Michael is an invaluable member of my team because most of those are his,” he gushes. “‘It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Clint’s Mess’? I mean, c’mon! That’s all Michael.”
“My favorite one we didn’t get to use. For the warehouse fight, I called it ‘Aisle of Misfit Toys.’ But it was too close to the property,” Paraskevas reveals. “But it was fun coming up with them. I think every project we’ve worked on together we try to come up with different titles. We have a whiteboard in Chris’ studio and throughout the project we’ll just be adding different ideas, and when the moment calls for it, you just know.”
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