The last Marvel show of the year is here, and it is well worth the wait! As a solo character, Clint Barton has never been the most exciting person in the MCU. He’s just the guy with the arrows and a wicked case of white man’s rage. But as a show, Hawkeye proves to be a lesson in tension and comedy, all wrapped up in Christmas merriment.
Disney was gracious enough to send us the first two episodes, so this isn’t a comprehensive season review. But, the episodes we did get to watch did a phenomenal job setting up the series characters and conflict.
Episode one takes us back to 2012, moments before the Chitauri attack on New York City, and here’s where we meet a young Kate Bishop.
She’s confident, curious, caring, and concerned about her parent’s marital conflicts. However, as we soon learn, her concerns are small potatoes when her home is torn open, revealing in the distance her mentor to be Clint Barton—doing what he does best with his trusty bow and arrows.
The sequence does a great job of hooking you and creating interest in Kate’s future. Despite you already knowing what will happen to the world at large after the New York invasion. But it’s also here where we get our first instance of absurdity.
Cards on the table, I wear glasses, so maybe it was just my defective eyes. But the way the scene was shot completely pulled me out of the moment. The zoom in and out looked a little choppy, and the camera was pretty shaky.
This should’ve worked well with the whole city under attack, bombs going off, setting. But we’re following young Kate (Clara Stack), who, for the most part, has her bearings as she goes about her home trying to figure out what’s happening; it’s just our view of the scene that is unsteady and visually displeasing. In addition, it makes the whole thing come off heavy-handed and less immersive than previous shows and movies.
The heavy-handedness doesn’t disappear as we come to the modern day. We come to find a now 22-year-old Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) up to some hijinks. But, except for this time around, it lends itself to the hilarity of the moment. Kate comes off as mischievous, likeable and a little out of her depth. Something everyone around her never fails to notice.
It helps ground the show amidst all of Kate’s impulsivity and antics. Serving as a reminder that even though people believe in her. Even though she thinks she is ready to take up the mantle. It doesn’t mean she’s up for the task just yet. It’s an honestly welcome and refreshing change of pace from the usual blind optimism or complete dismissal most young heroes are met with. This way, not only will we root for her, compelled by our desire to see her win and prove herself. But it also gives Kate depth making her connections with her loved ones even more heartfelt and compelling.
Renner’s Barton, on the other hand, isn’t as fortunate.
Kate shines because of her relationship with her loved ones and her idol; Clint, on the other hand, is uncomfortable and unsure. It’s almost like there’s a cloud of awkwardness around him constantly. His discomfort around other people clarifies that his story is being carried by them rather than woven together the way Kate’s is.
Clint comes off like an absentee father trying to get involved in his kids’ lives again. Which he technically is if you think about it. Clint seems out of place, and as the episodes go on, it becomes more apparent why. He’s too busy attempting to run from reality. Too busy avoiding the role he played in Civil War, Infinity War and Endgame, and most importantly, hiding from his time as Ronin, the bloodthirsty vigilante.
Unfortunately for good ol’ Hawkeye, secrets don’t stay hidden forever, and now it’s time for his white hood— I mean assassin costume to come back into the light. And while Kate is more than happy to help him out in exchange for some Superhero 101 lessons, but it doesn’t look like Clint is amenable to it. He’s never been the most tactful Avenger, but his rebuffs seem almost cruel? The only person he does seem not to feel awkward around is his wife; with everyone else, you can’t help but cringe a little at his behaviour.
Speaking plainly, Hawkeye is the weakest link in his own show. Besides Renner’s cumbersome performance as Clint, a few other things take away from the watching experience, the discordance in the audio being one of them. But at the end of the day, Disney Plus’ Hawkeye is all about introducing us to Kate Bishop, and that’s something it does masterfully! All in all, while not a perfect show, it is a hilarious series with a lot of potential and worth a Wednesday night watch.