Ever since he first entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) has been waiting for his moment to shine. So often he's crammed in alongside heroes who double as literal gods, or genius billionaires, or symbolic super-soldiers, or … you get the point. But at long last, the arrow-wielding Avenger gets the screen all to himself in the latest Marvel Disney+ series, "Hawkeye."
Here, Clint shows off his heroic abilities against street-level villains whilst trying his best to bury his post-Blip past and return to his family for Christmas. Given the name of the series, the lack of other Avengers, and a plot revolving around his past, this should obviously be Clint's moment to take center stage… Too bad his thunder is being stolen by the greatest character to enter the MCU since its inception. That's right, I am indeed talking about Lucky, the Pizza Dog!
So far, the name Lucky hasn't been attributed to our beloved canine companion — but Pizza Dog is a title he earned right off the bat in episode 1. A hero in training, Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) risked her life to save the dog from both oncoming traffic and a mysterious Tracksuit clad gang, and hasn't let go of him since. Upon discovering he likes pizza, she did as any sane human would and named the puppy after his new favorite meal. And based on the huge doggy grin he wears whenever his title is called, PIzza Dog approves. Don't let the name fool you though, getting rid of leftover pizza is just the beginning of what Pizza Dog has to offer.
The Pizza Dog In Action
The "Hawkeye" series is in large part inspired by the Matt Fraction and David Aja comic run, which also featured Kate Bishop and first introduced the trusty Pizza Dog, Lucky. Naturally, the creative team behind the series was determined to weave Bestest Boy, Lucky into the show and in their brainstorming, discovered that he could be a crucial part of the audience understanding Kate. They decided to have the young archer casually encounter the dog, then later save him from the villainous clutches of the Tracksuit Mafia. According to executive producer Trinh Tran (via Marvel.com), this approach "shows her nature of wanting to be a hero, and this was a good deed that she did in order to rescue him."
Pizza Dog also helps us get to know the young hero in another crucial way. Three episodes in, you may or may not have noticed that Kate is a very talkative person. She has a tendency to get overexcited, especially when it comes to making plans with her childhood hero and quasi-mentor, Hawkeye. Clint's not exactly the best listener though, often tuning her out and sometimes literally turning off his hearing aid — but Pizza Dog would never ignore his new pal! He makes the perfect listening companion, which Hailee Steinfeld notes is deeply important for Kate:
"You see and hear Kate sort of talk to herself a lot or have moments where she's either trying to contain her excitement or figure something out, out loud. That's a similar thing that she has with Pizza Dog where she's talking to the dog. She's looking for a connection. She's sort of coping in ways when she is having those moments to herself out loud. But there are moments that she has with this dog where she's not accepting the fact that he's hers or that she's responsible for him. But this connection grows; she feels that what's she's looking for in everyone around her. And it's quite sweet that she finds it with Pizza Dog."
Much like he did in the comics, Pizza Dog helps to ground this dynamic duo. He may technically be in Clint and Kate's care, but he's also providing them with some much needed joy. In the wake of car chases and explosive battles with the mafia, the pair repeatedly return to their home base (aka Kate's apartment) where Lucky eagerly awaits, excited about park walks, pizza and lots of good head pats.
Pizza Dog Behind The Scenes
Now to answer the question everyone's been wondering about: what is Pizza Dog like behind the scenes? Series stars Hailee Steinfeld and Jeremy Renner have been all too happy to answer. Steinfeld gushed to Marvel.com, "It was so fun; I am such a dog lover." She went on to add:
"The minute I knew Pizza Dog was as much a part of this show as he is, I was very excited. It was definitely a challenge; the dog is unbelievably well-trained — do not get me wrong — but it is a dog. When it sees a squirrel, it wants to have a moment with the squirrel."
The third episode of the series sees the duo walking their good boy through the park. Y'know, like the kind that's infested with squirrels. And just like Steinfeld hints, this caused a bit of onset trouble. Renner set the scene, saying:
"We are trying to have a very serious walk-and-talk through Washington Square Park. I can get a lot of important information out as I'm carrying a backpack, a quiver and a bow, and all these other things. And then I've got this dog that is trying to, again, have a moment with a squirrel. So, difficult at times but mainly very fun."
One squirrel chase here and there is no punishable crime! Who among us hasn't declared a break from work to chase after a rodent? Sans a few bushy tailed distractions, the doggo behind Pizza Dog is a total professional, who Renner admitted is "unbelievably well-trained." Tran even went into the hiring process that eventually led them to Jolt:
"We had several dogs; we had photos and we put the dogs on tape in terms of what they can do. We went on from there, trying to really figure out which is the best dog to play Pizza Dog. And Jolt, our amazing dog on set, was cast for it."
Jolt won out in the end because, as he's proven in every episode of "Hawkeye" thus far, he's a bonafide star. Three episodes in sadly means we only have a few more hours with Pizza Dog before the series ends. We're crossing our fingers that the heroes wrap up this mafia situation real soon, so we can see what we really came here for: Pizza Dog chomping down on his favorite cheesy meal, whilst getting some much deserved head scratches.
The first three episodes of "Hawkeye" are currently streaming on Disney+, with new episodes arriving on Wednesdays.
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The post Meet Pizza Dog, the Breakout Star of Hawkeye and the Goodest Boy appeared first on /Film.