Hawkeye (Review): Nails its Mark (Pardon the Pun)

Finally! Hawkeye gets his own show. But how well did this story serve the most underrated Avenger? Read on to find out…

***Avengers: Endgame Spoilers Ahead***

Hawkeye begins the adventures of Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld): Clint Barton’s biggest fan, and a superhero-wannabe. Through a series of misadventures, she’s mistaken for The Ronin and draws the ire of that notorious vigilante’s enemies. Fortunately, Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) is in New York to help her out– though he’d much rather join his family for Christmas. An unlikely partnership between Kate and Clint forms as they untangle a web of criminal conspiracies, murders, revenge-quests, and Hawkeye’s dark past.

First up, I wanna appreciate Hawkeye’s Christmas-setting. This series single-handedly got me into the holiday spirit! Yes, I’m a few weeks late on this review. Stop judging me… The music, decorations, and focus on family relationships were especially wonderful in late December– but feel free to enjoy this series any time of the year. Christmas seems to have been chosen for to accentuate some of Hawkeye‘s main themes: sacrifices people make for family and sacrifices family makes for you.

I’m happy to report that Marvel kept the stakes small for this adventure! What? You WANT to see more multiversal, universe-ending threats/ tie-ins with the Hawkeye show of all things? Guy is an ex-spy who shoots a bow and arrow. Chill. I expected a relatively grounded character drama with a healthy amount of action, and that’s exactly what I received.

Street level action in New York City brings me back to Marvel’s Netflix days. Though Hawkeye isn’t so gritty as those shows, it does wade into weighty emotional themes– some of which I’ll cover in a bit. The small scale also allowed for average New Yorkers’ reactions to an Avenger (who helped saved the universe) going about his business in their neighborhoods. And that led to some fun moments!

Clint Barton seems to have more fans in the MCU than he does in real life… Although they acknowledge he’s one of the least popular Avengers. I hope that’ll be remedied after more people watch his show!

Barton’s got a dog sidekick now. That’ll get him fans straight away.

Hawkeye finally incorporates Barton’s deafness into MCU canon. Evidently– his many years of exposure to loud noises as a regular guy have left permanent damage to his body (his ears specifically). The MCU has made an effort this year to represent Deaf and hard of hearing peoples– first in Eternals, and in Hawkeye with Clint and Echo. But it’s not just used as a throw-away element: the fact that Clint’s all but lost his hearing comes to play in multiple scenarios, ranging from dramatic to comedic. Part of me wishes it was MORE important to the plot though. ‘Cause this is a big change in the characters’ life which he’s evidently not used to yet.

Stories like this can be a no-win scenario. Surface-level representation will have people accusing Marvel of shallow attempts at diversity; yet if substantial screen-time is devoted to Hawkeye’s deafness, people might say “it’s a fact of life for many folks. Don’t treat this as too big a deal.” So I believe this series struck a good balance. Clint’s deafness is sometimes a hindrance to his line of work (because he still hasn’t adapted to his new reality) but it isn’t dwelled on too much either.

Don’t assume Hawkeye is all serious though. It actually maintains a good sense of humour considering the subject matter. This IS still Marvel we’re talking about here. It’s just not so goofy as the MCU can be sometimes. I like goofy jokes as much as the next person but I prefer when franchises switch their style up from time to time. Keeps things more interesting.

The shift in comedy style also works because Hawkeye is notoriously stoic (well– at least the MCU version of him is). Clint Barton charmingly plays the straight man role to more spirited characters like Kate or his merry band of LARPing friends (don’t ask– just watch the show). But he lightens up more here than we’ve seen in 10 years!

Look how stoic he is!

Though the series doesn’t specifically say so: it’s evident Barton suffers PTSD from Avengers: Endgame. Black Widow’s sacrifice notably weighs on his conscience. Barton wants to honor her life but he’s not convinced in his worthiness to do so. His frustration at the mere plot of this show admittedly makes him a buzzkill for the first few episodes– but his story greatly improves after that. Ultimately: Hawkeye is the story of Clint Barton’s redemption for decades of morally questionable decisions.

Kate Bishop is a splendid addition to the MCU! She’s rich and privileged (money can buy off many of Kate’s problems) yet she’s combat capable, good-hearted, and delightfully awkward. I’d fangirl too if I got to help my childhood hero solve a personal problem!

Bishop is arguably the protagonist of this series. And I know that seems inherently wrong since the show is called Hawkeye, but it works. Kate’s story is just starting and we already know Clint, so it makes sense we’d focus more on Kate (especially in the beginning) to make us care for her as much as Hawkeye. I’d say the show succeeded on that front!

Hawkeye’s relative sharing of the spotlight didn’t irk me so much as Natasha playing a support character in the Black Widow film. That’s because Clint plays a meaningful role in this story which only his character could have filled. The plot is based on Hawkeye’s past, and he’s ultimately the show’s hero. He’s just not always the focus. Wanna hear me whine about why Black Widow failed to do those things? Read my review…

Kate is more of a sidekick. Is it weird to be overjoyed that a modern superhero property FINALLY adapted a proper hero/ sidekick relationship? This dynamic shouldn’t feel so refreshing as it does. I know sidekicks are more of a DC thing but I’ll take it from Marvel too. Kate and Clint’s relationship is both endearing and entertaining.

Kate Bishop– AKA Marvel’s plan after Jeremy Renner quits.

NOTE: I don’t count the Arrowverse or Titans’ sidekicks because they’re full-blown shows, and Hawkeye is a mini-series which Marvel counts on the same level as its movies– so basically a 6 hour film. Mini-series and films are simply on a different playing-field culturally (and budget-wise). And superhero movies/ mini-series don’t do sidekicks much yet. So Hawyeke is unique for now.

Hawkeye features well-choreographed action that I can ACTUALLY make sense of (a rarity for modern entertainment). The set-pieces were thrilling and dynamic, yet refreshingly street-level. Perhaps a bold claim here: for my money, Hawkeye maintains the best action in a Marvel series since Daredevil. DD is still the undefeated champ but Hawkeye is miles ahead of the other shows thus far!

Branching off the action: it was cool how characters maintained their injuries throughout the series. They obviously wouldn’t have had enough time to heal, considering the plot spans a few days. That level kind of continuity helped to immerse me in the world.

I maintain mixed feelings on Hawkeye‘s antagonist, Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox)– AKA Echo. She’s got layers, and she’s more sympathetic than many MCU villains. But these same qualities made her a weak antagonist because the show sympathized with her a little TOO much. Echo never got to feel like a genuine threat (for long) before they introduced characters of more dubious morality. Echo became less important as the series went on. She never left the story but definitely got lost in the shuffle half-way through.

Echo trying to be intimidating (and succeeding).

Hawkeye’s family was another less-than-stellar element. They weren’t bad, but they only served as plot devices. We’re supposed to feel bad that Hawkeye might not make it home for Christmas (and I did) but I didn’t care about his kids anymore than I already did– which was not at all. His wife, Laura (Linda Cardellini) came out somewhat better though.

And The Tracksuit Mafia (Hawkeye‘s main goon group) weren’t menacing in any way, shape or form. They never offered much of a challenge to the heroes beyond their sheer numbers. Even then they mostly served as cannon fodder to make Kate and Clint look awesome. Although they did humanize some of the henchmen a bit, so I wanna give the show props for trying there.

Hawkeye is the best Disney+ Marvel show yet! It’s definitely their most consistent. That said: I’m still mixed on Marvel’s handling of their MCU series in general… And I’m EXTRA bitter they cancelled works of cinematic art (and quality entertainment) like Daredevil just so this stuff could happen! I’d take that show back in a heartbeat over literally anything else Disney+ has upcoming. But that’s enough about my hang-ups. What do I rate this show?

Hawkeye is a Must See for its affecting and stimulating take on the Hawkeye mythos. But who honestly thought Clint Barton would mess up his one shot at a series? I’ll see myself out…

One last thing: I would totally watch “Rogers: The Musical” if it became a legitimate live show!

What’s your most anticipated upcoming Marvel project (big screen or Disney+)? What did you think of Hawkeye? Please share your thoughts in the comments (no spoilers please). If you have any ideas for future articles, or any questions, let me know. Also be sure to Like this article on Facebook and share if you enjoyed!

Till next time,

Joe Morin

By Joseph Morin

Joe's passion for film and entertainment began at 7 years old when his younger brother demanded to watch Duel of the Fates every day for weeks (on DVD). Joe admired the sequence so much, he decided to dedicate his life to film-making and storytelling. He has a degree in Cinema and Media Studies from York University. Joe loves DC superheroes (especially Superman), the first six Star Wars movies, and arguing about media with anyone who will listen.

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