Hawkeye – 8/10
Disney fires a considerably strong arrow across the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Hawkeye delivers some of the most entertaining television moments of this year.
Having already thrown a number of titles into the mix, Hawkeye enters as a solid candidate in becoming Marvel’s best Disney+ show to date thanks to a larger than life duo and a pleasantly paced six part story.
What appealed to me the most about the show is the character of Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) who returns as the titular Avenger for a sixth time. Barton’s character has been so well developed across the movies in that his story is one of the most emotional of all the original Avengers. We see him do terrible things under Loki’s manipulation in The Avengers, we then see him at his best enjoying mixing family life and superhero life in Age of Ultron. It is his appearance in Avengers: Endgame however that takes his character to extreme levels. Here we see him no longer the happy go lucky archer but the merciless killer Ronin as he builds up a hefty body count to deal with the loss of his family after they vanished or blipped in MCU terms in the aftermath of Thanos snapping his fingers.
The show kicks off a couple of years after the events of Endgame and Clint Barton, living a peaceful life again with his family, is caught up in the middle of a nasty crime war whilst being in New York with his children. This leads him to meeting teenager Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), a young girl who idolises Barton and wants to learn from him as they work together to unscramble a serious of conspiracies that centre around Barton’s dark past as the Ronin. The chemistry both Renner and Steinfeld have is what makes this show a gem, their relationship transcends throughout the season and the experience mixed with youth vibe plays for some funny interactions between both. Most importantly though, they are there for one another when they need it most. Bishop is there for Barton when he opens up about the death of Natasha Romanoff aka the Black Widow, an event that the series shows clearly still has an effect on Clint. Their pairing makes for excitement and adventure and helps towards the overall feel of the show.
Not only that but we see that Clint’s tenure as Ronin has serious implications on the Tracksuit Mafia, a gang he targeted in the past. Believing he has returned, they are led by Maya Lopez to track him down. Maya is deaf and this is something the show portrays so well and highlights the important use of sign language to communicate, a form of communication that Hawkeye also needs to use after it is revealed he has hearing loss due to the number of wild explosions triggered near him as an Avenger. The fact the whole cast learned to sign language for Alaqua Cox the entire time on set is pretty heartwarming stuff and makes for a pleasant representation. Marvel have already started to add more diversity to their projects but this was another fine example of it being beautifully portrayed in a way that there is no road blocks.
Back to the plot and there’s bigger problems than trying to deal with the gangs of New York and recover Clint’s old Ronin gear though as Yelena Belova is also in the mix trying to kill Barton, who she believes is responsible for her sister’s death. Florence Pugh was an immediate fans favourite following the release of Black Widow earlier this year and she’s back here with a vendetta. Whilst I wasn’t a fan of the movie as a whole, I did enjoy Pugh’s character although here I do feel that she’s forced into a very busy story. There is obviously the elephant in the room that Clint Barton did not kill Natasha Romanoff but this is dragged out a few episodes until a very emotional Clint reveals what really happened in the seasons finale. Let’s not take the limelight off our main heroes, it’s their moment and I feel that Pugh served no real meaning to the show.
One of the major plus points of Hawkeye is the simplicity of it, it’s not crammed with action scenes every few minutes, it gives us likeable characters, exciting twists and turns and all that whilst happening in the notable Christmas season in New York. There is so much development given to both Steinfeld and Renner and we watch them go through the motions similar to a father and daughter like relationship then to a brother and sister to then finally ending as friends. It’s a light hearted festive show that really defies all odds and I enjoyed every episode right up until the season finale and that’s only down to the inclusion of Wilson Fisk aka the Kingpin.
That’s right Vincent D’Onofrio returns to the role as the infamous mob boss that he made so popular in Netflix’s Daredevil show. Here though he’s totally wasted and I wish they had maybe only included him as a post-credit tease instead of him being nerfed. Whilst he’s still the same version as the Netflix character, something just seems off with him. Maybe it’s because Hawkeye isn’t rated the same as Daredevil so he isn’t as brutal I’m not sure but it just doesn’t feel right. I hope they have big things planned though and that D’Onofrio can shine in the role once again with more appearances in other MCU projects in the future.
Nevertheless, when you take away the weak antagonists Hawkeye hits the bullseye in making sure it’s lead characters shine, delivering us six episodes with a ton of heart and some pretty exceptional action sequences. It’s a character driven story and whilst it may not get the praise like WandaVision, The Falcon and The Winter Solider or Loki it’s just as effective with some outstanding story telling that any MCU fan can enjoy.