“Some people have actually called me the world’s greatest archer.”Hailee Steinfeld, Hawkeye
Airs: Disney+ | Air Date: 2021 | Number of Seasons: 1
WARNING: This review may contain spoilers for Endgame, Black Widow and Marvel’s Daredevil. Read at your own risk.
Hawkeye follows the story of Kate Bishop, a young girl who idolizes Hawkeye and wants nothing more than to be like Clint Barton. As a young girl, Kate witnesses the 2012 attack on New York and loses her father as a direct result of it. She begins to train mercilessly in order to be strong enough to protect her family. Meanwhile, Clint Barton has brought his family to New York for a quick trip before Christmas and notices that someone has stolen his Ronin suit. As Barton attempts to hide the secrets of his past, he realizes that his mistakes have taken on a life of their own and it’s up to him, a twenty-two year old college student and a dog who loves pizza to stop Ronin’s mistakes from destroying anyone else.
This show definitely had a slow beginning. Most of the first episode focused on Kate and Clint eventually meeting each other and it almost feels like pure chance that they even met. The entire show feels like pure chance and while I acknowledge that Marvel always wants its viewers to suspend their disbelief, it was way too hard to connect all the events of the show. There was a thin thread connecting everything and while it helps bolster the show’s classification as a mystery, there were also a lot of obvious clues and maybe that came from spoilers leaked before the show aired or the fact that the writers were a bit careless but it doesn’t excuse them.
Kate and Clint are the heart of the show. While Kate’s purpose is to help Clint realize that Hawkeye has had an impact on so many people even though he’s not a superpowered being like Iron Man or Captain America and she does this by helping him realize that other people care for him besides his family. Clint’s purpose is to try and erase the mistakes of his past, not realizing that so many of his mistakes have led to a wicked manhunt for the Ronin to the point that if his identity was ever revealed, it would result in his death. As it happens, a Black Widow named Yelena Belova (aka Natasha Romanoff’s sister) is already going after him in order to kill him. While other shows have a singular plotline in order to further the show, this one had many plotlines and that was why the show ultimately felt slower than the other MTU shows that have been released this year.
In terms of the acting, Jeremy Renner brought a more nuanced side to Hawkeye and allowed us to see more than the arrow shooting best friend of Black Widow. This is another example of Marvel finally taking some time to develop the side characters of the movies that didn’t get their own origin story. Hailee Steinfield’s Kate Bishop was thoroughly entertaining and beautifully balanced the desire to be like her hero and maintained the realistic mannerisms of a typical college student. Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova was written with such love which allowed Yelena’s character and her relationship with Natasha to develop and introduced a chance that Yelena and Clint might end up relying on each other in the future out of their love for Natasha. Lastly, Vera Farmiga and Vincent D’Onofrio blew me away. Farmiga played her role carefully, making sure that the audience knew that there was more to her character than meets the eye. D’Onofrio brought the same overpowered and terrifying nature back to Wilson Fisk and filled the audience with dread from the moment he appeared on screen to the last line in the series.
More than anything, this series made me more excited for what’s to come in the MCU. This show isn’t remarkable in and of itself, but the introductions of characters that MCU fans have come to love and that have some of the most solid storytelling in the entire cinematic universe indicates to me that the MCU is heading in a direction with more complex storytelling. This kind of storytelling has character driven plots, meaning that there is always a general outline but ultimately it is the choices of the characters that moves the story along. Hawkeye is a great example of the opposite. The story is very set on focusing on plot driven characters. Kate and Clint are always reacting to something that happens, never truly making their own decisions that change the story. That is probably the biggest critique that I have of this show. I recommend this show for those who love the MCU and just can’t get enough of their content but I can’t recommend this to a specific fan set because I’m just not sure who needed a story about this Hawkeye though I do understand that this was likely an attempt to bring Kate into the MCU rather than develop Clint’s Hawkeye more fully.