TL;DR – A charming series, with good action, but more importantly, solid character work and growth.
Disclosure – I paid for the Disney+ subscription that viewed this show.
Post-Credit Scene – There is a Mid-Credit Scene in the final episode
Hawkeye Review –
Of all the announced Marvel/Disney+ TV series, I would have to say that it landed with a big meh when I heard about Hawkeye. Hawkeye as a character has always been one of the weaker elements of the MCU for me, and I was not sure that a mini-series exploring that was going to do much to change that. Well, I will be the first to admit when I was wrong because more than any other Marvel property, I was instantly sold with that first trailer and what we got, in the end, was frankly some solid superhero fun.
So to set the scene, it is 2012, and a young Kate Bishop (Clara Stack) is listening in on her parents because all is not right with money. But before she has time to process that, her world explodes as the Battle of New York is fought around her. It is here where she first sees Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and after the death of her father (Brian James d’Arcy), she convinces her mother (Vera Farmiga) that she needs to learn archery. Today, a now adult Kate (Hailee Steinfeld) is sneaking into Stane Tower for a bet … and accidentally destroys a bell tower in the process. Meanwhile, Clint is out in New York having dinner trying to reconnect with his kids, not realising his past as Ronin was about to explode into his present. Now from here, we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there will be [SPOILERS] ahead.
What I think I was not prepared for before watching the show was how much heavy lifting this series would have to do. Endgame very much glossed over Hawkeye’s fall to the Ronin and then sort of left it with it all being okay. However, the legacy of someone murdering organised crime figures for years doesn’t just disappear overnight. Well, this series addresses that legacy head-on in both the portrayal of Hawkeye and the story it explores. Hawkeye left a trail of collateral damage behind him, which comes to bite on a personal and narrative level. It is also a narrative follow up to Black Widow and the underworld that the film created. While also bringing in its own characters and universe, and then finally being the link back to the Netflix Daredevil series, the second of which we have gotten this year. It kind of shouldn’t work, but they make it work in only six episodes.
How they make it work is through good characterisation. Hawkeye has taken a lot of punishment over the years, and here we see that there have been physical consequences for it. While he is not deaf, he does choose to use hearing aids which are incorporated respectfully into the show. They are not just a bit of costume, but a core element that plays into the character and his relationship with Echo (Alaqua Cox). It also plays into the soundscape that the show uses that is reminiscent of some of the techniques used in Sound of Metal. The show is also able to give Clint/Hawkeye a personality even if a lot of that has big “I’m getting too old for this …” energy.
Kate Bishop was honestly a delight from her introduction, which is good given how easily it could have been letting her slip into spoilt rich girl territory. I think a good part of that is because Hailee Steinfeld is a good performer who brings everything to this role. Indeed, come to think about it, I have never seen her give a bad performance. One of the highlights was her scenes with Yelena (Florence Pugh), where we get Hailee and Florence bouncing off each other’s performance with some joyous energy. When they first introduced the ’Tracksuit Mafia’ as the big bads for the season, I was perplexed. Still, they did a good job creating these little moments that give them personality (well, until the final episode when truckloads of nameless goons show up). The dynamic between Echo and Kazi (Fra Fee) was also great to see, even if you could kind of see where that was going to end up. I also liked that they could keep you guessing just a little about who was in league with the big bad.
Another strength of the show was its action scenes, which constantly shifted up each time while also leaning into the strengths of each of the characters. For example, the first significant action scene was Kate fighting in a wine cellar, using bottles of wine as weapons, but not falling into the usual for of having the bottles smash open on contact. We get car chasses with trick arrows getting fired about, LARP brawls, three-way fights between Clint/Kate, Yelena, and Echo, and more. I mean, the big final battle is a multiple level brawl across Rockefeller Plaza that leads to Kate squaring off against Kingpin (Vincent D’onofrio) in one of the most asymmetrical fights I have seen in the MCU. I also liked that they incorporated the Christmas setting into the show and into the action scenes whenever possible.
In the end, do we recommend Hawkeye? Yes, yes, I do. After my initial hesitation, I was honestly surprised just how much I liked the show. The cast was there for it, the action was solid, and frankly, it was just a fun ride from start to finish.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Hawkeye
Directed by – Rhys Thomas & Bert & Bertie
Written by – Jonathan Igla, Elisa Climent, Katrina Mathewson, Tanner Bean, Erin Cancino, Heather Quinn & Jenna Noel Frazier
Created by – Jonathan Igla
Based on – Hawkeye by Matt Fraction and David Aja
Production/Distribution Companies – Marvel & Disney+
Starring – Jeremy Renner, Hailee Steinfeld, Florence Pugh, Tony Dalton, Alaqua Cox, Vincent D’onofrio, Fra Fee, Brian D’arcy James, Aleks Paunovic, Piotr Adamczyk, Zahn McClarnon, Simon Callow, Vera Farmiga & Linda Cardellini with Carlos Navarro, Ben Sakamoto, Ava Russo, Cade Woodward, Clara Stack, Nichele Lambert, Regina Bryant, Brian Troxell, Aaron Nedrick, Avery Gillham, Harris Turner, Jason Scott MacDonald, Meghan