As someone who is only lightly invested in the MCU, the past year I have felt a tad overwhelmed by the amount I need to watch just to keep up. While they almost all received glowing critical acclaim, it’s not necessarily enough to make me want to watch. From ‘WandaVision’ to ‘The Falcon And The Winter Soldier’ to ‘Loki’, I just don’t feel like I have the time to watch everything that the empire puts out.
To my surprise though, after watching the first episode of ‘Hawkeye’, I found myself wanting to know more and clicking to the next episode. It was an entertaining and fast-paced watch and despite what I thought before, maybe I am ready to delve into the complex world of the Avengers.
‘Hawkeye’ A Marvel Mini-Series
Igla is known for writing on ‘Mad Men’ as well as producing ‘Bridgerton’. He is also the head writer of ‘Hawkeye’ and while writing the show always had Hailee Steinfeld in mind. “We wrote the show knowing that she was Kate Bishop. The same way that we approached Clint, trying to tailor the part to Jeremy. I mean, Hailee’s absolutely perfect casting for Kate Bishop. And certainly, now that people are going to see the show, everybody will know it, but we tried to write for her. We tried to write for her voice,” Igla said to Collider.
The series is part of Phase 4 of the MCU, which are events taking place in or after the events of ‘Avengers: Endgame’. According to Insider, Thomas confirmed that the series begins two years after the Blip, which is later than most of the Phase 4 projects made so far.
If you haven’t gotten a chance to watch the pilot episode, beware that there are spoilers ahead.
Never Meet Your Heroes: Kate’s Story
The story begins in 2012 with a young Kate eavesdropping on her parents fighting. Her father, Derek, smooths things over with her while her mother, Eleanor, offers to play a game of checkers. All is resolved in the Bishop household until outside their window Chitauri begins attacking New York City. In a moment of chaos, Kate sees Hawkeye and the rest of the Avengers in action. The Bishop home is caught in the crossfire of the attack and Derek tragically dies, because it seems no Disney character can have both parents. At the funeral, Eleanor asks Kate if she needs anything and Kate asks for a bow and arrow.
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Present-day, Kate on a dare shoots an arrow into an old bell tower on her college campus. Because of her refined archery skills she easily hits her mark, but because of her bad luck, the million-dollar tower crumbles leaving Eleanor to pay for the mess. Eleanor tells her that young people and rich people think that they are invincible, both of which Kate is. She warns her that one day it will catch up to them. Kate also learns that her mother is now engaged to Jack Duquesne. After Jack’s uncle Armand throws shade at Eleanor to Kate, and later threatens Eleanor, Kate follows him into the basement of the gala they are all attending.
She sees Armand and Jack bidding at a black-market auction, such as recovered artifacts from the Avengers compound including the Ronin sword and suit. Suddenly, an explosion hits as the Tracksuit Mafia (a terrible name if you ask me) storms in to rob the place. In a moment of heroics and, thankful for her background in martial arts, Kate puts on the suit and successfully fights them off. She flees the scene after saving a dog all while still in the Ronin Suit.
After dropping the dog off and giving him some pizza, Kate is convinced that Armand and Jack are up to something. So she does what any logical person wearing a superhero suit would do: she breaks into Armand’s place only to find him stabbed to death. She quickly leaves, but is cornered by the Tracksuit Mafia and is now unable to escape.
Never Meet Your Heroes: Clint’s Story
While Kate is attending the gala, Clint Barton and his three children attend ‘Rogers: The Musical’. He is clearly not enjoying himself; not only does the show feel tacky and not true to actual events of the Avengers (Ant-Man wasn’t even there!), but it also brings up some tough emotions while seeing his best friend Natasha Romanoff reenacted. Suffering from survivor’s guilt after her death, Clint and his family leave midway through the show. It’s okay though, Christmas is a week away and the kids are excited to finally have their dad home for it.
The family trip goes askew when Clint recognizes his Ronin suit on the news back at the hotel. In ‘Avengers: Endgame’ it is revealed that during the five years after Thanos killed half of all life, Hawkeye became Ronin and rampaged the criminal underworld. This is a dark time in Clint’s life, as much of his anger at criminals is because his family did not live. “Whilst Hawkeye seems to have put his dark days as the Ronin behind him, it is likely he had angered a lot of criminals and their families during his rampage,” explains Insider.
He leaps into action, knowing that the suit will get someone hurt and he must figure out why this ghost from his past has mysteriously returned. After fighting off the Tracksuit Mafia, he drags the Ronin to an alley and our two protagonists finally meet, to both of their surprise.
What Is Working?
There are several things that work in the opening episode of the show. While I never cared much for Hawkeye before (sorry!), his introduction to Kate is a good backstory for a childhood hero. “I wanted to pair the death of Kate’s father with her seeing Hawkeye. Because the trauma of losing a parent, and also an alien invasion right outside your window — which, apart from the death of a parent, is obviously a gigantic, terrifying, traumatizing event. Seeing [Hawkeye] who is not out of control in that moment, but seems completely in control, even though it’s completely terrifying. [For] Kate, somebody who doesn’t have superpowers, that felt like the type of thing that would make a lifelong lasting mark on a child,” explain Igla in an interview with Collider.
Clint’s quiet moment of reflection upon seeing Natasha on stage is also a moment that hooked me. He is still a man in mourning and, while the moment is quick, it clearly shows how overwhelmed he still is by the events. At the end of ‘Black Widow’, Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) is told that her older sister Natasha was killed by Hawkeye and she wants to seek revenge. Pugh is on the cast list for the show, so it’s only a matter of time until the two will face each other. This creates an interesting conflict, especially after this subtle moment of grief.
Steinfeld plays a wonderfully endearing protagonist and it’s hard not to root for Kate despite her privileged upbringing and occasional entitlement. “It’s an odd couple setup that really works. The grizzled old veteran and the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed rookie fighting crime together and getting into various predicaments, often thanks to Kate’s naivete—though don’t get me wrong, she’s a certified badass in her own right,” reviewed Forbes. There’s also a very elite group of straight women that can rock a suit as well as Steinfeld can, including the likes of Cate Blanchett and Natasha Lyonne, which is something to be proud of. The main qualm I had with Kate’s character was the blue contact lenses that Steinfeld wears. I’m not sure why the production team did this and it’s possible that it was only distracting to me.
The final aspect that hooked me on the show was the ticking clock. Christmas is a week away and Clint is eager to spend it with his children and his wife after proving himself to be dedicated to his family. He promises his daughter he will be home in time, setting a strict deadline for all funny business to be resolved. This creates a different sense of urgency and ultimately keeps the show at a fast pace. Not to mention, this is the first Marvel event set during Christmas. Although I don’t personally celebrate, I’m no scrooge; it’s a time spent with family often reflecting on time that’s passed, so it only adds more pressure on Clint and Kate before it’s too late.
Is It a Worthwhile Watch?
Overall, the show was entertaining and kept me engaged throughout the episode. I didn’t know everything that has happened in the MCU but the show provided me with enough information to not be lost, albeit I don’t mind spoilers. Even though there is other Marvel content that is a bit more mature in content, this was an easy watch and left me excited to see the concluding episodes. I wouldn’t go as far as to say I’m a Hawkeye fan now, but maybe I’m on my way.
Directors: Bert, Bertie, Rhys Thomas
Writers: Tanner Bean, Jonathan Igla, Katrina Methewson, Heather Quinn, Don Heck, Elisa Lomnitz Climent, Jenna Noel Frazier, Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Stan Lee
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Hailee Steinfeld, Tony Dalton, Vera Farmiga, Fra Fee, Linda Cardellini, Brian d’Arcy James, Ava Russo, Florence Pugh, Zahn McClarnon
By Kylie Bolter
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