Meet the new crime boss … same as the old crime boss. The just-aired season finale of the Disney+ series, Hawkeye, officially canonized Vincent D'Onofrio as the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Wilson Fisk aka the Kingpin, a larger-than-life role he previously played on Netflix's acclaimed Daredevil series. And according to D'Onofrio, this is the same Kingpin that fans followed for three bruising seasons as the nemesis of Charlie Cox's blind superhero. "It's absolutely the same guy," the actor confirms to Yahoo Entertainment. "One of the things that was clear between the collaboration of everyone involved is that I was going to play him emotionally like I played him on Daredevil."
That said, D'Onofrio warns continuity-savvy viewers that the events of the Netflix series may not sync up perfectly with the MCU timeline. "Not all the dots are easy to connect to MCU canon, in the same way they build off the comic book runs when they turn them into movies," he notes. "But even though the dots don't always connect perfectly, they do connect in a lot of ways."
According to D'Onofrio, one point of connection is that the five-year "Blip" caused by Thanos's apocalyptic Infinity War finger snap rocked the Kingpin's corner of New York City. "After the Blip, he lost some of his power, and he wants it back," the actor explains, adding that his alter ego is "physically stronger" as a result of that mission. That strength is on display in the Hawkeye finale when Fisk faces off against junior hero, Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), whose mother Eleanor (Vera Farmiga) is caught in his still-powerful grasp.
It's no accident that the Hawkeye finale dropped on Disney+ mere days after the year's biggest blockbuster, Spider-Man: No Way Home, swung into theaters featuring a cameo from Daredevil himself. Cox appears early on in the film as the hero's civilian identity, crusading Hell's Kitchen lawyer, Matt Murdock. D'Onofrio says that he and Cox weren't aware of each other's return until rumors of their respective cameos started to leak online, leading Marvel head honcho, Kevin Feige, to confirm in early December that Cox would be the MCU's one and only Daredevil.
"Once it broke on the internet, Charlie and I immediately called each other," says D'Onofrio. "And then we head the conversation we'd been waiting to have for about a year! He and I made a pact after the first season of Daredevil that we weren't going to give what other people told us away to each other because we didn't want to confuse our on and off-screen relationship. So we've always been in the same boat when it comes to this stuff. Charlie and I are friends in real life, so that phone conversation was a lot of fun."
The Hawkeye finale ends with Fisk staring down the barrel of a gun held by Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox), a deaf superhero better known as Echo. As the camera pans away, we hear a gunshot that suggests the Kingpin's return to the MCU might be short-lived. But D'Onofrio carefully suggests that we'll be seeing Fisk again, although he declines to specify whether that appearance will be on the upcoming Echo spin-off series — set to premiere on Disney+ sometime next year — or a new Daredevil adventure.
"Everything is kept secret," he says, gingerly dancing around spoilers. "All I can say without making people nervous is that when Daredevil ended, I really thought it was over. In my business, when you finish playing a part, you've finished playing the part and it becomes a wonderful memory. So I think it's incredible that Charlie gets to bring Daredevil back in whatever iteration that they decide, and I'm happy that I got to play my character in Hawkeye, because it's a great character."
When (not if) Kingpin returns, D'Onofrio expects a few other MCU-dictated alterations, since Netflix's Daredevil series was much grimmer and grittier than the Disney+ shows have been. "I knew this was going to be lighter," he says. "It's just naturally like that. My sons and I are fans of the Marvel movies like everybody else in the world. But all I really need is the interior life of the character, and then I can do anything they need me to do. Just as long as I can ground him as a human being first, and then turn him into this iconic villain. He's like all the villains I've played in that they're good guys — just misunderstood."
For the record, D'Onofrio has another Marvel character on his resume just waiting to be revived. The actor made a memorable cameo in the 1987 family favorite, Adventures in Babysitting, as a garage mechanic that Thor-obsessed eight-year-old Sarah (Maia Brewton) believes is the actual God of Thunder. Asked whether he'll be picking up the hammer again anytime soon, D'Onofrio just laughs. "I don't think that's going to happen. I don't know Chris Hemsworth, but we have friends in common and from what I hear, he's an incredible dude. I love his Thor, so I'm happy if he just does his thing, and I do mine. I'm glad he's got the hammer and he should keep it, because he's pretty awesome at it."
Hawkeye is currently streaming on Disney+