Marvel's latest streaming series sees Hawkeye finally take centre-stage, for a light-hearted crime story set in New York City and introducing several new heroes to the universe – including a certain four-legged friend.
Indeed, while fans are excited for the debuts of Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) and Echo (Alaqua Cox), many will no doubt be counting the minutes between appearances from our new favourite superhero: Pizza Dog.
Also known as Lucky, this canine companion has ended up in the care of Kate and her mentor Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) over the three episodes we've seen thus far and is proving highly popular.
Read on for everything you need to know about the super-pet, including his comic book backstory and the animal actor chosen for the role in Marvel's Hawkeye on Disney Plus.
Who is Lucky the Pizza Dog? Marvel character's backstory
Believe it or not, Lucky the Pizza Dog is ripped straight from the pages of Marvel Comics, having made his first appearance in 2012's Hawkeye #1, written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by David Aja.
This run went on to be universally acclaimed by critics and readers alike, propelling both Hawkeyes to new levels of popularity as well as having a strong influence on the tone and story of the Disney Plus series.
With that in mind, it's not hugely surprising that Pizza Dog was one of the elements carried over to this adaptation, as he plays a big role in the early chapters of the comic – with one ingenious issue written entirely from his perspective.
In the source material, Lucky is originally owned by the villainous Tracksuit Mafia, but the dog is left brutally beaten after he jumps to the defence of their arch-nemesis, Clint Barton.
Fortunately, Clint is able to save the dog's life by rushing him to an emergency vet, where he undergoes surgery and manages to pull through – becoming an adoptive pet to the Avenger, who is a bachelor living in New York City in the comics.
Hawkeye executive producer Trinh Tran told Marvel.com that much time and care was put into adapting Lucky the Pizza Dog for live-action.
“It was a matter of how do we do it in an organic way that makes sense," she said. "So it doesn't feel like a dog all of a sudden just appeared in the storyline and how did that happen? It ties into how the dog encounters Kate and shows her nature of wanting to be a hero, and this was a good deed that she did in order to rescue him.”
What breed of dog is Lucky in Hawkeye?
Lucky is a golden retriever, a popular breed of dog which generally lives between 10 and 13 years, with a reputation for being friendly, intelligent and energetic.
Who plays Lucky the Pizza Dog in Hawkeye?
The role of Lucky the Pizza Dog ultimately went to a highly trained animal actor called Jolt, who turned four years old on the day of the Hawkeye premiere (according to his official Instagram page).
“We had several dogs; we had photos and we put the dogs on tape in terms of what they can do,” Tran added. “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.”
While both Steinfeld and Renner became enamoured with the dog during their time filming, both noted that his one weakness was chasing squirrels wherever they appeared.
Steinfeld explained: “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.”
Hawkeye releases new episodes weekly every Wednesday on Disney Plus. You can sign up to Disney+ for £7.99 a month or £79.90 a year now.