Review: ‘Hawkeye’ premiere episodes are lighthearted fun

The main complaint about Clint Barton’s Hawkeye as a character, at least when it comes to the MCU version, is that he’s boring. I’ve never quite thought that myself, but it’s easy to see where it comes from: he’s a spy that shoots good, and in most of the films, that’s kind of all he is.

What the new Disney+ series Hawkeye proposes is: what if that’s ok?

Accurate or not, this is the version of the character that his new Disney+ series embraces and even makes canon. He is the lowest key Avenger, but the series clarifies that this is because he wants it that way (as if the movies didn’t already). As much as he is game to save the world, what he really wants is to spend time with his kids, especially after the five-year gap in which a giant purple guy snapped them out of existence.

During that time, Clint lost hope and went on a rampage, calling himself Ronin, killing criminals, and raking up enemies left, right and centre. Once the day was saved in Avengers: Endgame, he retired that version of himself. Imagine his surprise when someone shows up wearing the costume he wore while making all those enemies.

Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) is the person in the suit. She was just a girl when the Chitauri attacked New York in The Avengers, and who did she spot on the next building over during that attack? That’s right: Hawkeye. After the attack, her mother, Eleanor (Vera Farmiga), asked her if she needed anything. “A bow and arrow”, she replied.

Hawkeye
Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) in Marvel Studios’ HAWKEYE, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

Now, in the present, she has spent her entire life training in martial arts and archery. After some hijinx at her college, she returns home to her mother’s apartment to find her engaged to Jack Duquesne (Tony Dalton). Duquesne is from a wealthy family, and though he appears to be a nice guy outwardly, he has an obsession with swords and a moustache that if he doesn’t literally twirl it by the end of the series, I will be disappointed.

While attending a charity event with Eleanor and Jack, Kate follows Jack to an underground auction where presumably very bad people are bidding on things recovered from the site of the Avengers HQ that was destroyed by Thanos, including the Ronin suit. Once the underground auction is attacked, because of course it is, she dons the suit to fight off the bad guys and escape.

This is how Clint and Kate meet, he tracks her down and saves her from one of the many groups of bad guys who have unfinished business with Ronin, and since they don’t know it was him, they assume it was her.

Hawkeye/Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) and Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) in Marvel Studios’ LOKI, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Mary Cybulski. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved. 

The first two episodes are set up like a pretty standard unlikely buddy action comedy, with Clint as the grumpy one and Kate as the enthusiastic one. Renner and Steinfeld have good chemistry in this dynamic, and so it works. These are only the first two episodes of six, but if there’s a complaint here, it’s that they actually don’t spend enough time together yet.

The overall tone of the series is light and fun, and that is an excellent choice. The Disney+ Marvel series so far have each been a little on the heavy side, so Hawkeye is refreshing in that regard. Even the gang they are fighting against in the first two episodes, the tracksuit mafia, is ridiculous. Please note, this is not a complaint. Canadian actor Aleks Paunovic appears as one of the leaders of this gang, and he is having a great time mugging with a thick eastern European accent.

That’s pretty much the entire first two episodes: a lighthearted buddy adventure with some fun moments and laughs. I don’t know if I would go so far as to call it a comedy, but it definitely has funny moments, including one standout where Clint has to join a LARP. So far, Hawkeye doesn’t tackle the same kind of weighty subject matter as WandaVision, Captain America & The Winter Soldier, or even Loki, but it is pretty fun, even if it is a bit slight.

Other thoughts:

  • It’s pretty clear that neither Eleanor nor Jack are entierly what they seem, but I have a feeling that this is a red herring. Then again, Marvel is pretty good at red herrings so maybe its a red herring for a redherring. Oh god I’ve started already.
  • Speaking of Eleanor and Jack, both Farmiga and Dalton great in their roles. Farmiga is playing the kind of character she excels at (morally dubious mother figure), and Dalton is laying on the smarm pretty thick, but in a good way.
  • Seriously, I hope that Dalton gets to twirl that moustache.
  • Just to be clear: I love how dumb the track suit mafia is, on every level.
  • I hope that the series stays this light and fun.
  • Lucky the Pizza Dog is pretty great, too, and I hope he gets to save the day at some point.
  • While the multiverse thing is interesting, I find myself more excited for the Young Avengers team they are building toward.
  • Florence Pugh is set to appear in the series, and I hope it’s more than just a cameo.

Hawkeye premieres with two episodes on Disney+ on November 24th, with the remaining four episodes following each week through December 22nd. I have seen episodes one and two.


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