And we’re back! Disney+’s latest look into the MCU has arrived with the first two episodes of Hawkeye.
I’ve run pretty hot and cold with Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye during his appearances in the MCU. My favorite usage of him so far was in Age of Ultron, where Renner’s Clint Barton acknowledged the near absurdity of being on the Avengers solely for having really good archery skills.
I wasn’t sure what to think of the series to be honest, because I wasn’t sure if Clint could carry a show on his own. Disney must have felt the same as we also have Kate Bishop – played by Hailee Steinfeld – getting the costar treatment and a possible passing of the torch.
That said, the trailer playing off the Christmas setting really hooked me and I was looking forward to the release.
The episode starts with a young Kate in the year 2012 overhearing her parents arguing about money. They live in New York City and we quickly see this backdrop is also the Battle of New York, as seen in the first Avengers movie, is happening. Kate’s father dies in the attack, ending his worries about money in the process.
We also learn how Kate became a fan of Clint, watching him dispose of many attacking Chitauri aliens with a seamless blend of footage from 2012 Avengers and new looks from Kate’s perspective. The flashback ends with Kate at her dad’s funeral telling her mom she wants a bow and arrow.
Next cut is to present day. Kate’s at college and on a dare is trying to shoot the clock tower bell with her bow. The dare goes bad when the bell breaks, taking the tower with it. Kate gets sent home from college and cut off from her credit cards and money by her mom, played by Vera Farmiga. Kate’s mom now runs a successful security firm, the earlier money issues left behind.
We cut to our first look at Clint Barton since Endgame, with his kids on a trip to NYC for Christmas, where we get the best bit of the first two episodes: a Broadway take on the Avengers called “Rogers The Musical.” A disgustingly bemused Barton watches as the play unfolds with the events of the Battle of New York. We see Clint carries the scars of his battles, both physically, needing hearing aids after years of explosions robbed him of his hearing, and mentally, as when Black Widow is featured in the play he remembers his fallen friend.
The banter between Clint and his kids is another good part of episode 1. We already saw the depths he’d go over his family with his turn as Ronin in ENDGAME, so to see them alive and him basking in their company is nice to see.
We cut back to Kate as she meets up with her mom and the man she soon finds out is her mom’s fiance, a comic-tied character named Jack Duquesne. Kate has an instant distrust of Jack, while he seems amused more than anything with her.
Business starts to pick up for Kate at a dinner her mom is having where they plan to formally announce their engagement. At this banquet hall, there also happens to be an underground blackmarket auction of Avengers materials lifted from the Avengers compound destroyed in Endgame. Amongst those bidding at the auction are Jack and his uncle Armand. Kate, already suspicious of Jack, has followed them down to the auction where we see Jack and Armand bickering over a bid for Clint’s Ronin sword, salvaged from the Avengers compound. Armand wins the auction and before bidding can start for Clint’s Ronin suit, a group of Russians known as the Tracksuit Mafia attack, after a watch that also was part of the Avengers haul.
During the chaos, Jack steals the sword and Kate ends up with the suit. She puts it on and ends up fighting off multiple Russians. The fight is awkward and a bit clumsy, which works considering it’s most likely her first chance to put years of training to use and actually fight to hurt others. She’s filmed saving a dog from gettng hit in traffic. This act puts her on Clint’s radar, as it’s shown on the news and he wants to know who is wearing the Ronin suit.
The episode ends with the Tracksuit Mafia finding Kate and attacking her, thinking she’s the real Ronin. Kate had just found the dead body of Armand, run through with a sword. Clint shows up and quickly dispatches the goons and unmasks Kate. Realizing she’s just a kid as the episode comes to an end.
Likes: Hailee Steinfeld has a knack for being better than any given story she’s in and that seems no different here. She has a charisma and watchability that often overcomes boring story choices. Jeremy Renner’s flustered “I’m so over this” dislike for the fame that has come with his heroics is fun to watch as well. He’s flabbergasted by the Broadway play and irked by someone trying to get an autograph at the urinal. I already mentioned the play was probably my favorite part and continues a sub-genre of plays inside of shows about shows that I dig. (See also: Arya Stark watching the play of the Game of Thrones in GAME OF THRONES.)
Honorable mention from this episode, especially after the last 18 months? Clint looking at the urinal where someone had written “Thanos was right” with a non-dismissive “maybe” look on his face.
Dislikes: Kind of over the top establishing the Jack character as a dick. As someone that doesn’t have deep comic lore bonafides, they could have left him as more of a tweener, but now I’d be shocked if he’s not a second tier villain by the end of the 6 episode run. I assume he’s the one that killed Armand. I’m not entirely sure why Kate would bother stealing and wearing the Ronin suit, either. As of now, the series is presenting it as no one knows Clint was Ronin. So it only seems to have been done as a shoddy shortcut to give Clint a reason to get into Kate’s world. Whereas if Kate knew Clint was Ronin it would at least give a fangirl reason why she’d have taken it. Last nit to pick for Episode 1: We’re obviously a part of the MCU but it still doesn’t feel like we’re a part of the MCU. While real world logistics and story reasons make it understandable each Disney+ series isn’t just an endless stream of cameos, you would think there would at least be talks of the Blip or post snap unrest as seen in FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER.