The next installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has wrapped on Television, this time with a solo(-ish) series focused on Clint Barton/Hawkeye, and introducing the character of Kate Bishop/Hawkeye II to the MCU, all set around Christmas in New York City. There will be some discussion of spoilers from Avengers: Endgame and Black Widow, both of which are also spoiled over the course of the show.
Hawkeye picks up a couple of plot threads from Avengers: Endgame, one of which was also set up by the stinger for Black Widow. Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) is in New York City to enjoy a long-deserved Christmas with his family, reunited after he lost them due to The Snap. However, Clint is still dealing with the trauma of losing his close friend Natasha Romanov during the Time Heist. He’s also contending with partial hearing loss from several years of being a little too close to a lot of explosions without hearing protection as part of doing the whole superhero thing.
In the middle of this comes Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) – a college student who was saved by Hawkeye when she was a child as part of the Battle of New York (during the sequence with the rooftop swing stunt) – though her father was killed during the Chitauri attack. Kate has spent the majority of her life working to develop the resources she thinks she needs to become a superhero like Hawkeye – helped by the fact her family is fairly well off. While she’s also in New York for the Holidays with her mother Elanor (Vera Farmiga), who is remarrying, with a rich fiance – Jack Duquesne (Tony Dalton) who is also kind of a foppish-himbo.
However, in the course of one very complicated evening, Kate follows Jack to an underground auction where the costume Hawkeye wore, when he was going on a vigilante murder rampage as the Ronin is up for sale. When a group of underworld goons, henceforth known as the “Tracksuit Mafia”, attack the auction to steal some stuff, Kate grabs the Ronin costume to intervene. This is caught on camera, leading the media to report that the Ronin is back, which Clint sees on the news, in turn leading him to intercede to keep Kate from getting killed by all the organized crime groups – who didn’t take too kindly during the Blip of Clint taking up seeming permanent residence in the “Anger” phase of the grieving process.
Just to make things even more complicated than that, the leader of the Tracksuits is Maya (Alaqua Cox), whose father was killed by the Ronin, and is seeking revenge. Also, Yelena (Florence Pugh) – Natasha’s kid sister who has since become a Black Widow (see that film), is also seeking to get revenge for Natasha not returning for the Time Heist, and wants to kill Clint because she was told by the Contessa in that film’s stinger that he caused her death. Finally, Clint needs to get back to his family for Christmas, so there’s a ticking clock.
Where this show works incredibly well is with the characters and their chemistry. Clint, Kate, and Yelena hit it off like a house on fire (which one of whom may have been responsible for setting on fire but they’re not sure who and it was probably on purpose and we should really hash out once we escape the burning house). The Tracksuits as a whole provide a nice balance of charm and menace. Maya, in particular, works very well as the very difficult character of the-heavy-who-doesn’t-want-to-be-the-heavy-but-is-just-so-good-at-it. That balance is hard to pull off – usually it tends to one of the two extremes – the Effective Heavy or the Tormented Heavy (losing some menace through audience sympathy), but not necessarily both.
Where the show somewhat stumbles is with the length and the number of plots. There are a lot of plates this show tries to spin, and they don’t necessarily manage to keep them all spinning successfully. That said, the ones that are kept spinning are the ones that really matter to the story, and the ones that aren’t can either be picked up next season or aren’t that important anyway.
Ultimately, this was a fun series to watch, and it’s also nice to have a series that fits in with Die Hard in that “festive holiday action movie” standpoint, which also feels a little more actually in keeping with the holiday spirit than Die Hard does.
Hawkeye is currently available for streaming on Disney+.
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