TV Review: Hawkeye

Hawkeye is the fourth Disney+ exclusive from Marvel Studios to land on the streaming platform this year and the penultimate release by the studio before Spider-Man: No Way Home hits cinemas in December. Clint Barton has, to many, long been sidelined in the MCU as a supporting character – an extremely skilled archer and combatant but not a superpowered superhero – his desire to have a peaceful family life practically led him to being overshadowed by his Avengers teammates, and he didn’t seem to mind. Now, Barton’s time in the spotlight has come as he once again juggles trying to move away from his past, lead a normal family man life and deal with moments from his past as they catch up to haunt him.

Starring alongside Jeremy Renner is Hailee Steinfeld as Kate Bishop, his number one fan and new protégée. Steinfeld, at only 24, has already had quite a career, even before her international breakthrough role as goofy Emily Junk in Pitch Perfect 2 back in 2015. Now she’s entering quadruple threat territory with newfound fighting skills added to her acting, singing and dancing talents. These two Hawkeyes make a quirky, yet dynamic duo who are quite polar opposites in terms of personality but share an uncanny skill for archery as well as a drive to make things right again, and must form an unlikely but intriguing team to combat yet another renewed threat to their lives.

  1. Episode 1
  2. Episode 2
  3. Episode 3
  4. Episode 4
  5. Episode 5
  6. Episode 6

Episode 1: Never Meet Your Heroes

From the offset after the flashback to young Kate Bishop witnessing Clint Barton save her life in 2012 during the first Avengers film and seeing an older Kate randomly destroy a clock tower, it is clear why this series has been released now. Set during December in NYC, the streets are lined with snow and the air is filled with Christmas music. Clint and his children are watching Rogers: The Musical, which from the few minutes of it shown, immediately makes everyone at home WANT and NEED this to be a real show! But while Barton is still trying to shy away from the celebrity superhero life, elsewhere in the city, Kate’s home life is taking a hard left when it’s revealed her wealthy socialite of a mother is remarrying and of course Kate is immediately aloof towards and suspicious of him and his typical rich White man of an uncle. Both appear to harbour secrets and an agenda that Kate endeavours to uncover. A black market auction selling ill-gotten artefacts, including many Avengers-related items and Ronin’s costume (Clint’s vigilante alias during the Blip), which Kate basically steals, dons and fights in leads to a Hawkeye hunt by the “Tracksuit Mafia”.

The first episode predominantly centres on Bishop as she, intentionally or not, becomes a “masked assailant” who the media believe to be Ronin that has returned. Despite being a medal-winning martial artist, she gets through her scrapes with the gang by the skin of her teeth, showing promise and potential but ultimately showing she’s still young and inexperienced in the “real world” of combat and certainly of superheroism. The episode also sets up the show to clearly be a co-led production. While WandaVision also featured Vision, it is Wanda who was that series’ main character by far and of course Loki centred almost always on him (there was also Sylvia, obviously but she was technically just a female him anyway). And in keeping with the character of Clint, whose preference is to not have all eyes on him all the time, he must share the screen with Kate. However, as much of a draw as Steinfeld might be and her character being quite larger than life as well as comical and slightly naive, yet self-confident and determined, Renner as a despairing, grumpy and low-key Barton whose main priority is his family and is still obviously affected by Natasha’s death continues to keep fans with him after all they know he’s been through and know is still to come. Also, can we all collectively go “aww” at the one-eyed dog Kate rescues from the street and takes in?! But who or what is he really? Is he – like Goose the “cat” in Captain Marvel – more than meets the eye (see what I did there? Hehe)? Or is he really just a random stray dog added for adorable effect?

Episode 2: Hide and Seek

Just like everyone else who gets to meet Clint Barton, Kate’s initial starstruck face after he rescues her is crumpled when he turns out to be quite a distant and seemingly emotionless person in real life. Nonetheless, they are roped into helping each other as he tries to figure out why she’s got his infamous Ronin suit and where she got it from, while she knows something’s afoot seeing that the Tracksuit Mafia are now after them both and after Armand III (her mum’s fiancée’s uncle) has been killed.

After Clint manages to track down the suit and get it back after it ended up in the hands of a LARP (live action role-playing) group (though none of them question why he of all people needs it, perhaps assuming as an ex-Avenger he is going to destroy it or something), he instead finds himself confronted again by the Tracksuit Mafia who kidnap him. Thankfully, it’s Kate Bishop to the rescue, but she once again proves she’s far from being a true Hawkeye at the moment, when her clumsy entrance to their lair results in her also being tied up. Now, fans of the MCU already know Yelena, Natasha’s sister, is set to make an appearance in Hawkeye after she is sent on a mission by her boss Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (who also appeared in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier) to get revenge on Natasha’s killer – who is supposedly Clint. So while of course people were half-expecting the Tracksuit Mafia’s boss to be her, it is in fact someone else. Because of course, there was no way she was going to be introduced this early, right? However, it does make me wonder whether this other lady is actually connected to Yelena in some way? We’ll soon see…

Episode 3: Echoes

Split into three sections, the third episode doesn’t really reveal much but links the previous and next episodes in nicely. We start off with Maya (a.k.a. Echo)’s backstory – a deaf girl whose father and his associates were murdered by Ronin, sparking her desire for vengeance. There’s a hint that above her is “Uncle” (her adoptive father) who in the comics is Kingpin and it is rumoured if he appears in the show he will be played by Vincent D’Onofrio who portrayed the character in Marvel’s Netflix show Daredevil. If that transpires to be true, it’ll be the first time a Marvel Netflix show will crossover into the MCU and it was surely going to happen at some point… Upon finding Hawkeye and Kate Bishop, they are blithely unaware Clint Barton was in fact Ronin and even at first believe it’s Kate – but Clint assures them it’s neither of them, saying Black Widow killed Ronin. Will they find out the truth? You can only imagine, yes. In the second section of this episode, a fight and chase ensues where Clint and Kate narrowly escape and we get a first glimpse at some of Hawkeye’s “non-regular arrows” with some rather random, crap or explosive properties, which appear to have been invented by Bruce Banner or Iron Man. In a car chase and battle that sometimes rivals those seen on previous MCU films (despite the odd “you can easily tell that’s CGI/green screen” moment), it added a bit more excitement to what is essentially more of a halfway story episode.

In the final section, Clint and Kate bond a bit better and ironically listen to and help each other a bit better when Clint’s hearing aid is broken. They then attempt to break into the Bishop Security system to find out more about the Tracksuit Mafia and Jack as Kate is adamant there is a link between them but at the very end while Kate realises she can’t get into the system, Clint comes face to metal with Jack and Ronin’s infamous sword… As we await episode four next week, one question that lingers from this one is – just how many villains do they want in the show? With only three more episodes left, we’ve already met two (Maya and Jack), are pretty sure Kingpin will also make an appearance and probably more of Ronin’s enemies from his violent past, and we are all awaiting Yelena’s entrance. If one thing the MCU goes a bit too heavy on, it’s the number of villains and they seem to deem necessary to go against their heroes. How will this one work out?

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