Hawkeye

Cast: Jeremy Renner, Hailee Steinfeld, Vera Farmiga, Fra Fee, Tony Dalton, Zahn McClarnon, Brian d’Arcy James, and Alaqua Cox

It can be tricky reviewing a Marvel Studios TV show having just watched only two episodes. It’s not that the shows don’t get better, but as Loki, WandaVision, Falcon And The Winter Soldier, and even the animated What If… series have proven, the first few episodes of a Marvel series can be deceiving.

These shows had one thing in common – they each had a significant contribution to make to the overall Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), whether it is the unveiling of a new Captain America, the leveling up of an Avenger’s powers, or the unravelling of the Multiverse.

At first glance, or rather, the first two episodes, Hawkeye seems to be the exception to that rule.

Clint Barton has always been the least conspicuous of the six ‘Original Avengers’ (which include Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow and Hulk). Heck, he fights with a bow and arrows, for Thor’s sake. While he seems to be the one Avenger who actually has a proper work-life balance, his past has also never been explored in depth (though we were given a glimpse into his relationship with Natasha Romanoff in the Black Widow feature film). In short, he has never been given his own time to shine. Until now, at least.

Now that I've got a new Hawkeye lined up, it's time to call my agent and tell him I'm ready for that Bourne Legacy sequel.Now that I’ve got a new Hawkeye lined up, it’s time to call my agent and tell him I’m ready for that Bourne Legacy sequel.

Set after the events of Avengers: Endgame, in which the Avengers defeated Thanos but at the cost of Black Widow and Iron Man’s lives, we now see Clint back with his family, looking worse for wear and with a hearing problem caused by numerous encounters with loud explosions while on duty with the Avengers.

However, a particularly dark part of his past catches up with him while he is spending some quality time with his kids in New York. You see, during the ‘Blip’ caused by Thanos’ snap with the Infinity Gauntlet, Clint lost his entire family and went on a murderous rampage against criminals as a vigilante named Ronin. So, when someone wearing the Ronin costume shows up in the news, he sets out to retrieve it, which leads to him meeting a young woman named Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), who also happens to be an expert fighter and archer and a fan of Hawkeye as well.

Look, if you want to become the new Hawkeye, you need to stop calling me 'Hawkguy'.Look, if you want to become the new Hawkeye, you need to stop calling me ‘Hawkguy’.

Based loosely on a highly acclaimed run in the comic books by writer Matt Fraction and artist David Aja, Hawkeye is a lot more down to earth compared to the previous MCU TV shows, which is no surprise, considering Hawkeye is more of a street level, non-powered superhero anyway. In a way, we’ve not had a show about that kind of hero since, well, the Marvel shows on Netflix.

And although we can’t escape references to the grand scheme of the MCU, this series manages to set itself apart by focusing mostly on the relationship between Clint and Kate, and also with its grittier, non-CGI, physical action sequences.

Hailee Steinfeld's Kate Bishop is a delightful addition to the MCU's roster of heroes.Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop is a delightful addition to the MCU’s roster of heroes.

While Renner is already well-established in this role, he plays Clint with a certain world-weariness that can only come with having played a part in saving half the universe armed with only a bow and arrow. It is Steinfeld’s spunky and wide-eyed Kate Bishop that stands out here though.

Kate is a delightful addition to the MCU’s roster of heroes, and should prove to be a worthy successor to Clint in the future. The chemistry between the two leads is what makes the first two episodes of this show more entertaining than expected, even as it goes through the usual slog of introducing the protagonists and central plot of the show.

And while the show seems to be shaping up to be quite faithful to Fraction and Aja’s story arcs, one does get the feeling that there is a lot more twists and turns to come, especially with Florence Pugh’s new Black Widow due to make an appearance somewhere down the line. For now, Hawkeye doesn’t seem to have a clear sight of the target beyond setting up its central characters, but if past MCU TV shows are any indication, there is no doubt it will hit the bullseye eventually.



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