Hawkeye has always been somewhat of an underused character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, never quite being in the spotlight as much as the rest of the Avengers in the now 20+ film franchise. With the arrival of Disney+, Marvel now has the ability to take fan favourite characters like him and give them their own spotlight, all the while introducing new heroes to carry the franchise’s next phase, and Marvel’s Hawkeye aims to do just that in great fashion.
The two-episode series premiere is slow, albeit fun start to the passing of the Hawkeye mantle from Jeremy Renner to newcomer Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop. Starting off by looking back at some pivotal moments from the battle of New York (Avengers), the show introduces Bishop as a child prodigy losing a loved one during the attack and consequently being obsessed with the golden archer’s skills in fending off aliens. Cutting to the present day, post-Endgame, Renner’s Clint Barton finds himself in the middle of a fun family night leading up to Christmas as he silently watches ‘Rogers: The Musical’ (which is joyful) while trying not to dwell too much on his dreadful past as the vigilante Ronin. Of course, his family break gets cut off early with him soon coming face to face with Bishop.
Similar to previous Marvel Disney+ shows, Hawkeye’s first couple of episodes are quite deliberately slow, mostly setting the stage for the real plot to kick in future episodes. By the second episode, Barton and Bishop have formed an unlikely team of street-level heroes while fending off angry mobs, with their chemistry effortlessly carrying the show. The supporting cast (at least for the premiere) includes Vera Farmiga as Kate’s mother, Tony Dalton, Fraa Fee, Zahn McClarnon and of course, Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez who will be getting her own spinoff series next year in Marvel’s Echo. The series premiere of Hawkeye introduces an intriguing mystery with Bishop caught in the middle, dragging Barton down with her once more into the world of crime-fighting. That doesn’t mean we don’t have time for Hawkeye, as (essentially) a global celebrity who fought Thanos’ army, taking part in a New York LARP game (which reminded me of Life is Strange: True Colour’s own rendition of a more-fun-than-real-life LARP). Being a show that doesn’t have to contend with universe shaking events like those in say Eternals or even Marvel’s previous Disney+ shows, we get a good look at how the ground level civilians look at superheroes, who have essentially replaced movie stars as the talk of the town (or planet). It’s a running theme we saw first in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, although that show has relatively a more serious threat and tone.
Marvel’s Disney+ shows have been quite vague in their marketing, saving a lot of twists and interesting directions for the shows themselves. While that may prove to be true for Hawkeye as the series progresses, its first couple of episodes are exactly what the trailers have made it out to be - a street-level Christmas thriller. As for what the rest of the episodes may include, that consists of the return of Florence Pugh’s Yelena from Black Widow and potentially Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk aka Kingpin, reprising the role of the crime lord from Netflix’s Daredevil series. All that aside, Hawkeye has enough going for it in its initial setup, with Tony Dalton playing a particularly interesting character with malicious intent who, for the most part, has not been highlighted in the marketing much.
The series takes a lot of inspiration from the comic run by Matt Fraction & David Aja, and eagle-eyed viewers will take notice of the myriad of easter eggs pointing to it. One of these includes Lucky the Pizza Dog, which I can’t wait to see more of in the show. The exploration of Hawkeye’s past as Ronin and how that haunts him in a seemingly fun show is a great concept, which is bound to be tapped into whenever Yelena makes her appearance. But what about the threats present in the premiere? The tracksuit mafia is just as goofy as they sound which fits perfectly well within the show’s somewhat goofy Christmas context. No matter the odds though, Hawkeye and Bishop’s chemistry is an instant hit with a good amount of banter thrown in between them in tense situations. The action though feels a little dull with a few moments of good choreography, and I hope it ramps up in the future. In either case, the special series premiere for Hawkeye is a fun start to what should amount to a status-quo shaking future of the MCU as newer, obscure heroes are introduced to replace the mantle of the Avengers down the road.
Marvel’s Hawkeye starts streaming on Disney Plus Hotstar starting November 24 with a special two-episode premiere.