I knew I was going to write a theory on Thunder Hawk eventually. It’s taken me this long to come up with something not just because his story is underutilized, but because the evidence that’s there tends to be conflicting. In other words, T. Hawk is a bit hard to pin down. His design and story goes in several directions, and as such, he appears to be a character all his own. That being said, Capcom could run with one particular plot thread if they decided to bring him back. In fact, there’s a chance that T. Hawk could be the fifth and final character of SFV, and if he is, he can add something to the lore no other character except Rose can: insight into one of the most mysterious characters in Street Fighter V.
Let’s start out with my biggest issue with T. Hawk, though – it’s unclear just who he is. It’s not that he’s some shadowy character with a hidden past. We know that T. Hawk is an indigenous member of the Thunderfoot tribe whose land was taken by Shadaloo. T. Hawk, exiled from his native land, is determined to get it back so his people may live freely once more.
It’s established that T. Hawk’s a good guy who just wants to help his village and, along the way, get his lover, Juli, and his fellow tribeswoman, Noembelu, to return home as well. We know Thunder Hawk’s motivations for going against Shadaloo. The only thing we don’t know is where exactly Thunder Hawk comes from, and that’s the key to this whole theory. So, where does he come from?
The short answer is an indeterminate place in Mexico. The long answer is extremely complicated and murky. Thunder Hawk was originally born in the Sonoran Desert. He ended up with his tribe in the Monte Albán plains. However, his Street Fighter II stage is at the Hospicio Cabañas in Guadalajara.
In other words, T. Hawk is associated with three completely different locations in one country, all of which have completely different indigenous people with different cultures and languages. In other words, it’s pretty much impossible to tell for sure where Hawk is from. Even his design can’t help us – his clothing is based off of tribes based in the United States like the Apache and Navajo. It makes sense for Hawk to wear what he does to establish that he has a bond with indigenous tribes based in Arizona and New Mexico, but unfortunately, it muddles his background enough to question it.
His father, Arroyo Hawk, runs into the same problem. Indigenous Mexican tribesman generally don’t dress the way he does.
Since traditional indigenous garments are far simpler, it’s safe to say that Capcom had no idea this was the case and just wanted to make the character look cool. Since the Thunderfoot look absolutely nothing like the indigenous tribes around them, what this means lorewise is that they probably just wanted to mix up their look and go for something different, taking their look from the Apache, who they seem to have at least a minor connection with. Considering that the Sonoran Desert is in the proximity of Apache lands, it’s not really that farfetched to believe that this is just clothing evolution based on circumstances.
Unfortunately, this makes it far harder to guess what area the Thunderfoot tribe is originally from. Certainly, T. Hawk being born in the Sonoran Desert points to the Thunderfoot’s homelands being there. However, it really depends on the timing of when Shadaloo took over. As Fandom states, it happened when he was an infant. https://streetfighter.fandom.com/wiki/T._Hawk#Story
If this is the case, then yes, the Thunderfoot tribe are indeed an offshoot of the Apache, case closed. Except there’s conflicting evidence, none more so than T. Hawk’s Aztec costume from Super Street Fighter 4.
In other words, Capcom really wanted to play up the Aztec angle. It really doesn’t help our case to point out that Aztec influences were also originally used in T. Hawk’s Street Fighter II stage. As seen above, there are people watching the match dressed in Aztec clothing.
To complicate things even further, Monte Albán is towards the south of Mexico, and is stated to be where the Thunderfoot are currently. However, in Super Street Fighter IV, T. Hawk says this:
This implies that his tribe has recovered their lands from Shadaloo and are working to restore it. So the question remains… where is it? Are the sacred lands in the Monte Albán plains? Are they in Sonora? Are they in Guadalajara?
My guess? All three. The entirety of Mexico is Thunder Hawk’s sacred lands. The truth is he represents an entire nation, and Capcom seems to be pushing the idea that he’s someone for everyone who lives there, not just as a hero for the Thunderfoot tribe, but as a hero for the nation of Mexico.
This still doesn’t answer the question very well, and feels like a cop out, since the story states that Shadaloo specifically took over a certain location, and we don’t exactly see the entirety of Mexico overrun with Shadaloo soldiers. The safe answer? Monte Albán is a temporary relocation. Being born in the Sonoran desert and ending up in Guadalajara in Jalisco tells me that there’s only one place that T. Hawk’s native lands could be located: the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sierra_Madre_Occidental
The picture of Hawk’s Super Street Fighter IV intro above shows his people living in a rocky, valley-like region. The little evidence we have points to the idea that his tribe has adapted to mountain ranges, and so stating that his tribal lands were the Sierra Madre Occidental just ties things together a bit more nicely.
This leads to the next question: why be so nomadic that you move your entire tribe to the southern part of Mexico? One interesting thing I’ve found is that the migratory path of the Thunderfoot tribe is surprisingly easy to figure out – from Sonoma to Oaxaca, where Monte Albán is, it’s a line that more or less follows the coast.
This means that the Thunderfoot stick to following water sources to track their path. It’s predictable, but that also brings up a disturbing possibility: they can easily be followed by people with malicious intent. They can easily be tracked and found simply by jumping aheading of them. Unfortunately for the Thunderfoot, this has happened at least twice, both with Shadaloo. The first was when T. Hawk’s father was killed. The second was when they kidnapped Juli and Noembelu for the Doll Project. In other words, the Thunderfoot tribe are easy pickings for Shadaloo to pretty much do whatever they want.
So why would Shadaloo continue to torture this tribe, kill their leader, force them to migrate, and kidnap two young women? There’s only one possible reason I can find: their link to the Aztecs. If Thunder Hawk and his tribe are descendants of Aztecs, then that would mean they have a direct connection to another character who made their debut in Street Fighter V:
Monte Albán was once a burgeoning metropolis for the Zapotec civilization, existing for nearly a thousand years before it was eventually abandoned for what appear to be unknown reasons. More mysteriously, the given name of Monte Albán is a more recent invention – no one knows what the city was called during its prime. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monte_Alb%C3%A1n
What we do know is that it was Nahuatl speakers who derived the name “Zapotec” – their term for the people was tzapotēcah, “inhabitants of the place of sapote”, sapote being a type of fruit. The Zapotecs gave themselves the name “Be’ena’a”, or “The Cloud People”. Because of this, perhaps circumstantial, connection, it could be said that the name of the Thunderfoot tribe was a variant of the original Aztec name, with the name “Thunder” to symbolize clouds and “foot” to represent their nomadic nature. As for why the name was anglicized, this likely has more to with the Sonoran Desert’s vicinity to the United States in-game. Out of the game, the Japanese developers had an easier time with English than Spanish, as the name should have been some variant of “trueno”, which is the Spanish word for thunder. Plus, the name “Thunderfoot” brings to mind the Blackfoot tribe of the northern United States. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zapotec_civilization
This leaves us with the possibility that there may be Zapotec blood or at least a spiritual link to the Zapotecs within the Thunderfoot tribe. The second is most likely, as there is at least one thing both the Aztecs and the Zapotecs have: worship of a god called the Feathered Serpent, best known under the name Quetzalcoatl. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feathered_Serpent
I stated in a previous theory the connections between Necalli and Q, and Q and Quetzalcoatl. Abstract as they may be, there may just be some higher purpose to their connection. https://manestreetblog.com/2020/07/29/the-ultimate-purpose-of-necalli/
According to its Wikipedia page, “[o]ne characteristic of Monte Albán is the large number of carved stone monuments throughout the plaza. The earliest examples are the so-called “Danzantes” (literally, dancers)…. These represent naked men in contorted and twisted poses, some of them genitally mutilated. The figures are said to represent sacrificial victims, which explains the morbid characteristics of the figures.” The Monte Albán Zapotecs, much like the Aztecs, practiced ritual sacrifice to appease the gods. Necalli’s design embodies this in spades, as his entire mission is to acquire the souls of strong warriors by killing and eating them.
“Wait, I think I know where this is going!”, you say. “Are you telling me that, like in your Hakan theory, the Thunderfoot tribe are committing ritual sacrifices by killing and eating their own people?” It would seem like that at first, but this is not where the research took me. The Thunderfoot tribe are far more honorable than that. Plus, with the small size of the tribe, committing any sort of sacrifice would be impractical. https://manestreetblog.com/2019/06/21/hakan-the-devastating-truth/
Instead, what’s likely happening is a convergence between stories, of Shadaloo, Necalli, and Q. If Shadaloo is keeping tabs on the Thunderfoot tribe, there’s a reason they took Juli and Noembelu – they were testing the girls’ natural abilities as well as their susceptibility to being controlled. The Thunderfoot went to Monte Albán seeking spiritual guidance from the Feathered Serpent, which is what Shadaloo wanted. Having a number of potential victims being in a place where ritual sacrifice is known to happen would likely attract Necalli’s attention, and he would get to work trying to devour the entirety of the Thunderfoot tribe. Shadaloo would then use someone from the tribe as bait to corner Necalli.
That person would most likely be T. Hawk.
So… what happens next? At this point, it’s pure speculation. However, G would likely be involved in some way as well, since everything is starting to converge at this point. Perhaps Shadaloo lures out Necalli using T. Hawk, causing Necalli to call for Getepe, who then appears as G. Even Marz could be involved in the situation. There’s a lot to unpack here and Capcom could go several ways with it.
What’s more clear, though, is how this situation will end: Thunder Hawk may become Q, the Q we see in Street Fighter III: Third Strike.
“All of that just to lead to another Q theory?,” you ask, puzzled and perhaps slightly annoyed. I’m not gonna lie – I was not expecting this either. This theory was supposed to end at ritual sacrifice. However, as I continued writing, it became clear that there had to be a reason for the convergence to happen, and as it turns out there are three things T. Hawk has going for him that could make him a candidate for Q. The first, his harmony with Earth. The second, his size. The third, his in-game moves.
As shown in the preceding pictures, T. Hawk shares animations with both G and Q, from the outstretched arms to the one handed throw to the bow. Even Q’s Total Destruction from Third Strike looks like a grounded Condor Spire from T. Hawk’s Ultra Street Fighter 4 moveset.
“Impossible!”, you say. “T. Hawk is too big to be Q!” Yeah, about that….
I’ve already stated in the past that G is an energy vampire, so for T. Hawk’s body to wither somewhat underneath G’s control is not going to be a huge surprise. Neither would the changing of T. Hawk’s hair color, which would also be affected by G’s power. https://manestreetblog.com/2020/02/08/the-truth-about-sakura-kasugano/
The scenario this leaves is that, with Q having officially been placed in Street Fighter II in Ken’s stage, Q would have to be several different people; the Q in II is not the same as the Q in III. Again, that’s something I’ve stated many times before. Now, there’s an established path of mind control: Juli and Noembelu for Shadaloo, T. Hawk for G.
The Thunderfoot can’t catch a break.