Hawkeye Episodes 1 and 2: It’s Beginning To Look a Lot Like Blipmas!
Clint Barton meets Kate Bishop in the two-episode series premiere.
***SPOILER ALERT: This post discusses the plot points of episodes 1 and 2 of Hawkeye.***
Disney+’s live-action Marvel series have served as a reset for the MCU: clearing away old characters and conflicts to make way for the next phase of the Avengers. WandaVision saw Wanda Maximoff embrace her powers and evolve into the Scarlet Witch, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier saw Sam Wilson take up the shield as the next Captain America, and Loki served to not only plant the seeds for the multiverse but also introduce the MCU’s next big bad in Jonathan Majors’ Kang the Conqueror.
This brings us to Hawkeye, a six-episode holiday romp that will likely see Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) handing off his moniker to plucky young protégé Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld). And while Hawkeye the character often struggles as the least interesting Avenger (in the MCU at least), the series smartly pairs the stoic archer with the high energy and perfectly cast Steinfeld. In episode 2, Kate sums up their dynamic when she explains why Hawkeye is the least popular Avenger, saying “with all the scary stuff that’s happened since the Avengers appeared, people don’t want that cynical, cool thing anymore. They want heart on your sleeve sincerity.”
Steinfeld delivers on that sincerity, bringing all the moxie, stubbornness, and charisma that made her character so popular in the comics. The series, which is largely based off of Matt Fraction and David Aja’s award-winning Hawkeye run, makes quick and clever use of Bishop to balance the often subdued Barton.
But what makes Hawkeye so interesting is its focus on the human cost of years of super-heroic warfare. Clint Barton, like Natasha Romanoff, has no super strength, no Godlike powers, no suit of armor. And his body has paid the cost: Clint now sports a hearing aid thanks to countless explosions, bombings, and alien attacks.
But while he may not be the most dynamic Avenger, he is the one who makes an impact on young Kate Bishop, whose childhood is marred by the Battle of New York. The Chitauri attack kills Kate’s father (Brian d’Arcy James), but Kate is saved at the last moment thanks to an arrow from Hawkeye. This inspires Kate to be a hero and to take up archery.
Years later, Kate comes home for the holidays from college, where she accidentally destroyed the campus clock tower during a dare from the archery team. Kate finds her mother Eleanor (Vera Farmiga) engaged to slimy businessman Jack Duquesne (Better Call Saul‘s Tony Dalton).
Meanwhile, Clint is playing tourist with his children in New York City, where they take in a Broadway showing of Rogers: The Musical (sidebar: I would watch this entire musical, your move Marvel). But as ridiculous as the musical is, Clint can’t help but feel guilt when he sees a version of Natasha dancing on stage, the events on Vormir still fresh in his mind.
Clint is also still adjusting to his celebrity status as an Avenger, fending off bathroom photo ops and onlookers. He’s determined to spend the holidays with his family, and it’s easy to see why: after 5 long years without his family, five lonely Christmases, he’s desperate to make up for lost time.
But it’s that lost time that reels him back into Kate’s orbit. While at a charity gala with her mother and Jack, Kate stumbles onto a black-market auction where Barton’s Ronin uniform is on the table. An attempted robbery sees Kate scramble to fight back, donning the Ronin suit and making the evening news. The wine cellar fight is delightful to watch, and it’s a breath of fresh air to see fight scenes that don’t rely so heavily on VFX.
It’s Kate’s crime-fighting, dog-saving jaunt as Ronin that forces Clint to send his kids home early, promising them he’ll make it home for Christmas. Clint quickly tracks Kate down to retrieve the uniform, but he’s trailing behind the Tracksuit mafia and countless other enemies Ronin made in his five-year-long horrible murder marathon.
The series is at its best when Kate and Clint are together: Kate’s fangirl energy and eagerness makes a great foil to Clint’s dry and sardonic delivery, and Renner and Steinfeld have great comedic chemistry together. They’re kindred spirits, loners who are highly skilled and headstrong. And Renner is surprisingly adept at finding humor in Hawkeye, especially in a set piece that sees him LARPing in Central Park.
The series falters when it focuses on the murder of Jack’s uncle Armand, and whatever machinations he had with Eleanor and Jack. Jack is clearly up to no good, and perhaps so is Eleanor. After all, you don’t cast a powerhouse actor like Vera Farmiga to be window dressing.
The first two episodes lay a lot of groundwork and do so with plenty of style and humor. And while not every plot thread is compelling, there’s a lot to like in Hawkeye‘s promising start. And there’s plenty more to come: we get a glimpse of Echo/Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox) and we already know that Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) is seeking revenge.
What did you think of the first two episodes of Hawkeye? Let us know in the comments!
(image: Mary Cybulski/Marvel Studios)
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