Hawkeye (Season 1) 2021

“Natasha… I really need to talk to you right now. You were the bravest of us all, weren’t you? Loyal, stubborn. You always had to win, didn’t you? And for a stupid orange rock.”

2021 has been kind to fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with head of the studio Kevin Feige kicking off an ambitious and unprecedented slate of content, most of it going directly to Disney Plus. 5 series and 4 films are more than any of us could ask for with the studio defying the odds with how much has been released for consumption. Phase 4 has continued its winning ways after Spider-Man: Far from Home ended the Infinity Saga picking up right where it left off. The burning question came to be – where the MCU will go beyond Thanos post blip? Will it be a reboot, or will our favorite heroes make a comeback after their characters were retired?

Success hasn’t been hard to come by with the MCU. Currently, Spider-Man: No Way Home is shattering the box office in a pandemic era of film closing in on 1 billion, Wandavision, the first series released in January, gave a whole new meaning to grief, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier showed us that a black man can carry the mantle of Captain America, Loki brought us on a weird trip thus creating the multiverse and What If…? Explored a multitude of possibilities with animation. 

The last but not least series to be released (just in time for the holidays) is HawkeyeBlack Widow finally got her swan song back in May and now its Clint Barton’s (Jeremy Renner). Not much has been explored with Clint up until this point but with his own show, finally a deep dive into Clint’s personal life can be explored. What better way to introduce the next Hawkeye than its own series the same way Black Widow introduced Yelena (Florence Pugh) who will be the next up after Natasha’s sacrifice in Endgame

Taking heavy inspiration from Matt Fraction and David Aja’s run at the character, Hawkeye picks up 1 year after the events of Endgame while Clint attempts to clean up the mess made by Ronin during that 5-year period. Caught in the crosshairs is Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) a highly skilled martial artist and archer who witnessed Clint in the Battle of New York in 2012 fight off the alien invasion. Clint and Kate partner up to stop the Track Suit Mafia from catching the Ronin while Clint just wants to bury that part of his life. 

Like the series that came before it, 6 episodes hasn’t fared well for Loki, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and now Hawkeye. With so little time to establish new characters, a plot that makes sense to the story and conclude it perfectly time is against Clint and Kate from the beginning. The show itself starts off slower than expected with episodes 1 and 2 establishing character but not much else. Hailee Steinfeld like Florence Pugh is a fantastic casting choice where her character is the heart and soul for those two episodes. Maybe its foreshadowing since its likely she will be the new Hawkeye, but Clint is just there, existing, trying to make it home in time for Christmas. 

When the show gets around to the character moments between Kate and Clint, the show is at its strongest, Clint has a ton of baggage to get off his chest causing all the chaos. For one – the track suits led by Kazi (Fra Fee), and Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox) want revenge for Ronin killing their leader and then Yelena seeking revenge for Natasha’s death (not knowing both sides to the story, only the lies she was fed from Kate’s mom Eleanor (Vera Farmiga). 

Like the larger MCU, Hawkeye suffers from a poorly written and developed villain. Is it supposed to be Eleanor? Majority of the time the lens is pointed to Jack Duquesne (Tony Dalton), the mustache twirling swordsmith. Or is it Maya and the Track Suits who without fail use bro as a noun, verb, and adjective. Or is it the head of the entire criminal organization Wilson Fisk aka Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio). The villain aspect of Hawkeye becomes too convoluted and therefore hinders the show’s ability to get its feet firmly in front of itself. 

Where the show succeeds is the character moments mostly between Clint and Kate but more so between Kate and Yelena. Steinfeld and Pugh have infectious chemistry together giving us much to look forward to in the future of the MCU. I can’t wait to see more of them, and I wish the show was longer than 6 episodes to explore their budding relationship.

Beyond Pugh and Steinfeld, D’Onofrio returning to play Wilson Fisk is huge for the MCU. Charlie Cox has already made his return to his Matt Murdock but D’Onofrio returning has me amongst everyone who watched Daredevil excited to see where these characters go. Were they blipped or did they survive in that 5-year window? Give me more Kingpin, it’s like D’Onofrio never had a gap in playing a role he was born for. He’s just as terrifying, lethal, and intimidating as he was in 2017. The MCU could use another well written villain to join the Thanos, Killmonger, Vulture, Green Goblin, and Wenwu circle.

Unlike the 4 other previous series that released on Disney Plus this year Hawkeye is the most street level. Meaning, how grounded it is in its story. While the others dealt with magic and the multiverse, Hawkeyeremains close to the streets (like what the Netflix series captured with their 5 franchises) something the MCU hasn’t tackled before. No aliens, magic, systemic issues with our government, nothing. We get, two archers, a pizza loving doggo, LARPers and an endless supply of track suits ready to get their butts kicked from a variation of trick arrows. That’s really what made Hawkeye interesting before this series came out – trick arrows and the endless variations of them. Series creator Jonathan Igla went out of his way to include some of the best arrows Clint has used in the MCU. 

Directing the 6 episodes was split between Rhys Thomas and Bert & Bertie. The latter directing the tighter wound episodes that had the strongest character moments. And with 6 episodes to tie up loose ends, the show does its best, ending on a cliffhanger but getting there wasn’t necessarily the smoothest ride. In these 6 episodes is some of the best cinematography from Eric Steelberg and James Whitaker. My favorite shot is the 360 degrees moment from the track suits chasing Clint and Kate after escaping the track suits warehouse.

Hawkeye is flawed, messy, humorous, deep, and thrilling. It’s not among the best of phase 4 but it’s not the worst either. if for nothing else, the sound design and how Igla tackles deaf characters is awe-inspiring. It’s a middle of the road series that introduces the next Hawkeye now that the original 6 are all retired. Renner gives a serviceable performance with hints at greatness here and there but come on, this is Hailee Steinfeld’s show. The future is bright for her, Pugh’s Yelena, and D’Onofrio’s Kingpin. I hope marvel explores more of their deaf character Maya but im not sold yet that she needs her own series.

Now that there is no more MCU till at least May of 2022, if you haven’t watched Daredevil on Netflix, do yourself a favor, bask in its glory.

Created By: Jonathan Igla

Directed By: Rhys Thomas & Bert and Bertie

Music By: Christophe Beck & Michael Paraskevas

Cinematography: Eric Steelberg & James Whitaker

Starring: Jeremy Renner, Hailee Steinfeld, Vera Farmiga, Vincent D’Onofrio, Tony Dalton, Florence Pugh, Fra Fee. Alaqua Cox, Linda Cardellini

Where to Watch: Disney Plus

Release Date: November 24, 2021

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

My Score: 3.5 out of 5

Based On: Hawkeye created by Don Heck and Stan Lee and Kate Bishop created by Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: