While in New York for the holidays, Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) begrudgingly works with aspiring hero Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) to confront old enemies from his past as Ronin and return home in time to spend Christmas with his family.
Streaming on: Disney+
Episodes viewed: 2 of 6
Let’s be honest. Not many people were thrilled when Hawkeye, aka Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), was first announced as star of his own television series. Since Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) sacrificed herself for Clint to obtain the Soul Stone in Avengers: Endgame, fans have questioned if the right person was killed off — especially given Clint’s killing-spree as the vengeful vigilante, Ronin, during the Blip. Fortunately, Disney+’s delightfully entertaining Hawkeye paints a sympathetic picture of the retired Avenger who just wants to bury his past and spend Christmas with his family. The series also introduces Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), a young archer who is determined to prove herself as a hero and, clearly, will be Hawkeye’s replacement in the next generation of Avengers heroes.
The series opens briskly in 2012 with a young Kate Bishop, as her pleasant family home comes under attack during the Battle Of New York. Inspired by the hero who saves her — Hawkeye — Kate begins archery training. Cut to the present day, and Clint, who is now hearing-impaired, and his kids go on holiday to New York City to spend quality time together watching ‘Rogers: The Musical’, a Broadway show based on Captain America, before returning home for Christmas. Meanwhile, Kate’s wealthy mother Eleanor (Vera Farmiga) drags Kate to a Manhattan charity gala, where she stumbles upon an underground black-market auction and spots her mother’s shifty fiancé, Jack Duquesne (Tony Dalton). Kate then heroically dons the Ronin suit to battle the attackers who interrupt the auction. As she flees the scene, she is captured on the news, prompting Clint to track Kate down to reclaim his suit.
Steinfeld brings much humour and vivacity to her character, which only enhances Renner’s sombreness and sharp wit as Clint.
After finding her, Clint must figure out how to work with Kate to clean up the mess she made while wearing the suit. So the scene is set for some comedic bits — a humorous LARPing scene, a brawl with Ronin’s old enemies, wacky Russian gang the ‘Tracksuit Mafia’ — and some buddy-cop stylings. Clint and Kate’s contradictory personalities create a diverting dynamic, springing from Steinfeld and Renner’s engaging chemistry. It’s hard not to be charmed by Kate’s determination to learn everything from her hero; Steinfeld brings much humour and vivacity to her character, which only enhances Renner’s sombreness and sharp wit as Clint. Renner is also afforded the opportunity to prove his character was worth saving in Endgame. Two episodes in, the former Avenger is heading in a promising direction due to his subtle moments of regret and survivor’s guilt.
Unlike previous Disney+ series, the stakes are low and street-level. The story is contained within New York City as Clint and Kate deal with local gangsters and crooked socialites. It’s actually refreshing to not concentrate on theories of how the series is connected to the next phase of MCU films. Laid-back and filled with fun action sequences, the show thrives off silly jokes — witness a henchman complaining about the lack of empty warehouses for their HQ due to gentrification. There are also numerous Easter eggs for comic-book fans, including new twists on classic characters like Armand and Jacques Duquesne, and Lucky, a heart-stealing, pizza-loving, one-eyed dog, from the Matt Fraction/David Aja Hawkeye run. Without reinventing Phase Four, Hawkeye delivers a simple and amusing ‘Christmas’ Marvel series. It’s comical, full of heart, and may see audiences finally forgive Clint for his actions during the Blip — or at least, get excited for his replacement.
Hawkeye is modest in terms of threats and mythos compared to its MCU Disney+ predecessors, but it is nonetheless charming and full of heart. Hailee Steinfeld shines as Kate Bishop and will have many looking forward to her future at Marvel.