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Hawkeye - Eleanor Bishop has a comic book backstory that could lead to an unexpected MCU twist

Eleanor Bishop in comics and in the MCU
Eleanor Bishop in comics and in the MCU (Image credit: George Marston)

Eleanor Bishop may be a relatively obscure comic book character, but as Kate Bishop's mom, she plays a central role in Disney Plus' MCU Hawkeye streaming series alongside characters including Clint Barton, Kate Bishop, Echo, Jacques Duquesne, Yelena Belova, and of course Pizza Dog - and her presence could indicate an upcoming twist that would flip Hawkeye on its head.

So far, on-screen, Kate and Eleanor's relationship seems about as typical as can be for a burgeoning young superhero and her rich widowed mother. But there's tension brewing beneath the surface, and if it comes close to touching Eleanor's comic book backstory, things could get very interesting for Clint and Kate very fast.

In comic books, Eleanor Bishop is believed dead, and the circumstances around her mysterious death and return (it's comics after all) may spell out a potentially massive twist brewing in the MCU Hawkeye show - though whether any of the strangest elements of Eleanor Bishop's story will make it to the screen remains a question all its own.

Who is Eleanor Bishop?

Eleanor Bishop comic book image

Eleanor Bishop comic book image (Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Eleanor Bishop's history in the Marvel Universe is as brief as it is odd. She first appeared in flashbacks in 2017's Hawkeye #7, during Kate Bishop's time in Los Angeles working as a private investigator. Kate begins investigating her mother's death, which occurred under mysterious circumstances during the young hero's teenage years.

Teaming up with Clint Barton, the pair face a woman named Eden Vale who holds a grudge from Clint's past, and who has the power to bring people forward in time. She promises to bring Eleanor to the present from a time before her death in exchange for Kate killing Clint, but Kate refuses, losing her mother a second time.

Eleanor Bishop comic book image (Image credit: Marvel Comics)

But in the process of investigating her mother's death, Kate discovers that it was in fact her father Derek Bishop who was responsible for Eleanor's death - and worse yet, he's working alongside Kate's enemy Madame Masque.

Kate and Clint eventually bring down Derek Bishop's criminal operation, but not before discovering that Kate's father has moved his consciousness into the body of a younger clone of himself, developing hypnotic powers in the process. 

Though Kate's mother is lost to her again, she gains some clues that Eleanor may actually still be alive somewhere, and Kate's quest to learn the truth about her mom continues.

Eleanor Bishop in the Marvel Universe

Eleanor Bishop comic book image

Eleanor Bishop comic book image (Image credit: Marvel Comics)

In the recent West Coast Avengers title, Kate and Clint start their own Avengers team as part of a superhero reality show, becoming embroiled in a fight with a new West Coast Masters of Evil comprised of Madame Masque, MODOK, Lady Bullseye, Graviton, and Kate's father Derek Bishop. 

When Kate almost dies in a fight with the West Coast Masters of Evil, she's saved by her own mother, who mysteriously appears out of nowhere - before revealing that she too is in league with Madame Masque, hiding in plain sight as one of Madame Masque's enforcers to get closer to Derek Bishop in order to take revenge for leaving her for dead all those years ago.

But the reunion is short-lived and bittersweet, as Eleanor betrays Kate, and returns to working for Madame Masque.

Later, while infiltrating a secret cult they believe to be Skrulls, the West Coast Avengers (including Kate), are captured by the cult who turn out to be not Skrulls, but vampires.

Eleanor Bishop comic book image (Image credit: Marvel Comics)

What's more, the vampires believe that the blood of Kate's West Coast Avengers teammate America Chavez holds the key to making the entire clan of vampires into 'daywalkers' with all of the traditional vampire strengths and none of their weaknesses, a la Blade.

Fortunately, the few members of the team who didn't enter the vampire temple meet up with Eleanor Bishop, who agrees to help them rescue Kate, as she doesn't want Kate to become a vampire or to die - she just wants her daughter to leave her and the other villains to their affairs.

However, things take a bizarre turn when Eleanor reveals that she too is a vampire, sucking the blood of America Chavez to see if what the vampires believe is true - though she doesn't get enough of a drink to find out before Kate stops her.

As it turns out, Eleanor Bishop is alive because she was turned into a vampire after Derek Bishop left her for dead, and she's been working with Madame Masque in exchange for a cure to her vampirism.

Kate rescues her teammates and leaves Eleanor behind, going on to defeat the vampire cabal as Eleanor presumably escapes - and that's the last time she was seen in Marvel Comics.

Eleanor Bishop in the MCU - spoilers ahead for Hawkeye episodes 1 - 3

Eleanor Bishop comic book image

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Vera Farmiga plays Eleanor Bishop in Disney Plus' Hawkeye, though her backstory seems somewhat different from comic books. 

For one thing, Eleanor is alive in the show, while her husband Derek Bishop is presumed dead - a reversal of their traditional comic book statuses. And bear in mind we never seen him dead or what killed him. It's only implied he was killed in the Bishops' Manhattan townhome as collateral damage in the Avengers 2012 'War of New York' at a time a young Kate didn't know where either of her parents were. 

Eleanor also seems to have a relatively normal relationship with Kate, though the mother and daughter experience some strain in the show over Eleanor's engagement to Jacques Duquesne, who, in comic books, is secretly the villain/sometimes hero the Swordsman.

How or if Kate's mom's comic book criminal past will factor into Hawkeye remains to be seen, but it's worth noting that Marvel Studios doesn't shy away from leaning into the comic book weirdness of many of the characters they adapt to the screen. 

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Does that mean that Kate's mom will turn out to secretly be a vampire in the show, searching for a way to become a Daywalker? That would be a big stretch given what we know of Hawkeye's plot, but it's worth noting that Marvel Studios does have Mahershala Ali's Blade waiting in the wings, fresh off a surprise voice cameo in Eternals.

That said, it may be more likely that Eleanor's MCU twist could involve Madame Masque or at least one of the show's other villains who are still being established. And that's saying nothing about the potential for a later appearance of Derek Bishop.

If by now you're gathering that we're suspicious of Derek's death and Eleanor's role in it, we are. 

But whatever comes next, Marvel Studios has an odd, interesting character on their hands in Eleanor Bishop. 

Given Marvel Studios has yet to reveal a headlining villain for the series, along with its usual faithfulness to the Marvel Comics source material and the status of Farmiga (who likely isn't playing a third-string supporting character), Eleanor is if nothing else a character to keep a close eye on, and who could offer up some shocking surprises on multiple levels in Hawkeye.

Read up on all of the cast members of Hawkeye (with profiles linked at the top of the article) and learn all about Clint Barton's own dark past as Ronin.

George Marston

I've been Newsarama's resident Marvel Comics expert and general comic book historian since 2011. I've also been the on-site reporter at most major comic conventions such as Comic-Con International: San Diego, New York Comic Con, and C2E2. Outside of comic journalism, I am the artist of many weird pictures, and the guitarist of many heavy riffs. (They/Them)