Hawkeye VFX supervisor Thrain Shadbolt breaks down episode 3’s car chase scene featuring Clint Barton, Kate Bishop, and the Tracksuit Mafia.
Hawkeye VFX supervisor Thrain Shadbolt breaks down episode 3’s action-packed car chase scene. Marvel Studios’ latest MCU series on Disney+, Hawkeye, premiered back in November and released its six episodes in the lead-up to Christmas. Inspired by Matt Fraction and David Aja’s comic, My Life As A Weapon, the series saw Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton team up with Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop to take on the Tracksuit Mafia, Maya Lopez Echo (Alaqua Cox), and, ultimately, Wilson Fisk/Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio). It also starred Vera Farmiga, Fra Fee, Tony Dalton, Zahn McClarnon, Brian d’Arcy James, Alaqua Cox, and Florence Pugh.
In Hawkeye episode 3, “Echoes,” Clint and Kate escape Echo and the Tracksuit Mafia and hijack a car, but not before Clint’s hearing aid was smashed in the preceding fight. The following pursuit sees the pair race through New York while Kate uses trick arrows against the pursuing Tracksuits. The long-take car chase is one of the best MCU sequences fans have seen on the small screen and, as some might suspect, none of it was filmed in NYC. Instead, the bulk of filming for Hawkeye occurred in Atlanta.
Speaking with Comicbook.com, Weta Digital’s Thrain Shadbolt, the New Zealand-based supervisor who led Hawkeye’s VFX team, explained making episode 3’s chase appear as if it was taking place in NYC. On top of reconstructing most of the background plates to place the scene in New York, for the beginning part of the sequence, the team had to effectively connect three shots to look like a seamless sequence. Read what Shadbolt had to say about stitching the sequence together and the use of CGI below:
“That was pretty challenging because not only was there the idea of having to stitch these things together to make them all work, but the camera rigs set up on the car also obscured, through the back window, in particular, obscured large parts of the plate at various times. There was a hole cut in the ceiling of the car as well because it was shot for real, but the stunt driver was basically sitting out the back and above the car. So there was a lot of supporting material for him to drive the car while Clint and Kate are doing their thing…Once we get up on the bridge when you’re looking at the cars, is really the mix of a real car, augmented with shadows and reflections from the CG environment back onto the cars…And vice versa, shadows from the cars, real cars onto the CG environment, which we do by basically starting with a very tight match move of each vehicle in the frame along with the camera. So, we could match exactly what the cars were doing on the plate and then mix and match our CG rendered cars with what was real and vice versa.”
Hawkeye episode 3 is largely hailed as its best, and its car chase was a favorite scene to film for Renner and Steinfeld, as well as directors Bert and Bertie. The pair have said it was one of the things they were most excited to work on. Not only did it encapsulate the budding chemistry and dynamic of Clint and Kate, but it exudes the holiday adventure vibe Hawkeye aimed to achieve — from miscommunication and wacky trick arrows, to running into Christmas trees and sky dancing Santas. Overall (not including Iron Man 3), Hawkeye is the MCU’s first true Christmas romp that can be watched year after year, just as Marvel boss Kevin Feige intended.
While many thought the ending of Hawkeye would see Clint retire and officially pass his Avengers mantle to Kate, this wasn’t necessarily the case. The finale saw the pair get Clint home for Christmas and potentially set up a season 2. Outside of Hawkeye, Yelena Belova’s tenure with the Dark Avengers and/or Thunderbolts continues, and an Echo spinoff series is in development. Regardless of whatever the future holds, Hawkeye certainly set a standard for car chase and seamless shots in the MCU. And, given the recent MCU debuts of Kingpin and his hallway-fighting adversary, Daredevil, that’s a good thing.
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