‘Hawkeye’ director explains how we went from ‘SNL’ to the MCU

Back in 2014, Chris Pratt was guest hosting Saturday Night Live, and one of the sketches was a parody trailer for the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Guardians of the Galaxy, one that poked fun at how fans would show up for anything slapped with the franchise’s branding, in this case a movie about a woman named Pam.

Seven years ago, the skit was shot by SNL assistant Rhys Thomas, who would eventually become a line producer and director for the long-running comedy series. Fast forward to 2021, and Thomas is an executive producer on MCU Disney Plus series Hawkeye, where he’s also helming the first, second and final episodes.

It’s been quite the unusual turn of events, and in a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the filmmaker revealed how he went from mocking the MCU on SNL to calling the shots on one of its big budget streaming shows.

Guardians of the Galaxy was such a fun turning point in the MCU, tonally. I always felt like a cheat — or an imposter — that you got to re-create these things. I hated the idea that it seemed like we were making fun of them because I always held these things in such high esteem. Taking on Wes Anderson, taking on Tarantino. “Who am I to do this?” And then when you are with the actual actors from the actual thing, it just adds this other layer of, “We have to try to match that standard as best we can in this short time frame.”

Coincidentally it was Trinh Tran, who was the executive on Hawkeye.She was talking about the shows in general and explaining it to me. And asked me that question, and I said, “Hawkeye.” She kind of reacted with surprise, because I feel like no one expects anyone to say Hawkeye. I genuinely didn’t know that was the show she was specifically doing. You kind of hit the jackpot a little bit on that one.”

Marvel always has its eyes and ears open when it comes to recruiting talent on either side of the camera, but you can understand why Thomas wasn’t expecting to be invited into the world, especially when his background is almost entirely in the realm of single-camera comedy. The early reactions to Hawkeye have been strong, though, so it’s turned out to be another astute hire from the most successful outfit in the business.