The latest MCU entry on Disney+ follows Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), better known as Hawkeye among the Avengers, as he tries to settle back into family life post-Endgame and have a normal, happy Christmas now that his kids and wife are back from the “blip.” Of course, things don’t go as planned and he finds himself haunted by the past when young Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) inadvertently dons his former “Ronin” costume fleeing a black market auction, bringing some of Barton’s old enemies out of the woodwork for revenge.
I would say this series and WandaVision are neck and neck for the best-paced Disney+ show the MCU has come out with so far. While Hawkeye does hold certain reveals for the back-half of the series, there’s still plenty to keep you engaged and interested from the start, and each episode stands pretty strongly on its own. I would advise watching Black Widow before viewing this show, as there are a few plot details that will be more exciting if you have.
By itself, the plot isn’t exactly standout, but this series isn’t about the save-the-day plot as much as it is a celebration of an oft-overlooked Avenger. Armed with only a bow and a few trick arrows, Hawkeye is usually overshadowed by his super-powered Avengers teammates, but as seen through Kate’s eyes as a child during the Battle of New York, it was this lack of powers that made him the most inspirational, showing that anyone could be a hero if they had the courage and were willing to do the work. She went on to train as an archer and martial artist, idolizing Hawkeye the whole time. She spends much of the series pushing Clint to be the hero she’s always believed him to be with a stubborn but charming optimism, and the back and forth between the two of them is great. The evolution of their relationship from reluctant rescuer & fangirl to partners and friends is fun to watch, and makes for a believable handoff of the “Hawkeye” mantle in the final seconds of the series.
Another great character pairing in the final episodes are Kate and Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), and I would eagerly watch an action buddy-comedy movie or series focused on just the two of them. Alaqua Cox’s Maya Lopez and Tony Dalton’s Jack Duquesne were interesting new additions as well, and I’m curious how Marvel plans to use their characters in the future.
A smaller aspect I appreciated about this series was the more “human” perspective it provided on the Marvel Cinematic Universe and how the Avengers fit into and function with the “normal” world. Kate’s memories of the Battle of the New York and her father’s funeral soon after demonstrate the surprise and impact of the events of The Avengers would have had on the public as they adjusted to the knowledge of superheroes and aliens. We also see Clint in the present day visiting an Avengers monument, having people pay for his family’s dinner at a restaurant, struggling to sit through Rogers: the Musical, and noticing bathroom graffiti claiming “Thanos was right,” all giving us a taste of how the Avengers and their adventures are part of the cultural norm and debate of this universe.
I definitely recommend checking this one out if you’re a Marvel fan, and even if you’re just someone who likes action comedies, I think you’ll enjoy what Hawkeye has to offer. I’m definitely looking forward to Kate Bishop’s next adventure (here’s hoping it involves helping Yelena officially take on the Black Widow mantle).