‘Hawkeye’ Review: A Grounded and Refreshing MCU Chapter
After waiting for a long time, we finally saw the first two episodes of Disney+’s Hawkeye show, starring Jeremy Renner and Hailee Steinfeld. The show premiered on Disney+ on November 24, 2021, with the subsequent episodes being released a week apart. The miniseries is going to have a total of six episodes and in this review, we are going to tell you our initial impressions of the show.
Now, before we actually start, we have to give you a bit of context. After the success of the Infinity Saga, the MCU has started to expand and has entered the realm of streaming television, with four shows having so far been broadcast on Disney+, all of them to great critical and commercial success. Hawkeye is the fifth show in the series and will be focused on Clint Barton, the superhero Hawkeye, played by Jeremy Renner, who reprised his role from the MCU. The series is canon and is set after the events of the Infinity Saga, connecting the story of Ronin to the MCU, as well as the Black Widow movie (seeing how Yelena Belova makes an appearance in the show).
Now, Hawkeye was always been a background character in the MCU; he wasn’t irrelevant, but the focus has always been on the likes of Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America. Hulk and Black Widow also had more exposure, but even some characters that were introduced later – like Ant-Man, Spider-Man, or Black Panther, for example – received more exposure than Hawkeye.
Hawkeye is certainly a character that has a story that is interesting enough to receive proper treatment, especially since his Ronin persona was made canon in the Infinity Saga. Now, then Disney announced that Barton would be getting his solo work in the form of a miniseries, most fans were happy to hear it. So, how did it all work out?
The first two episodes set the tone of the show and defined the setting quite well. Hawkeye is basically a Christmas show, similarly to how Die Hard and Batman Returns are (atypical) Christmas movies and if you ever doubted that the MCU would work well in a Christmas-y setting (no, Iron man 3 is too bad to be called a decent Christmas movie), Hawkeye is there to change your mind.
Now, the reason because of which the Christmas atmosphere works so well within Hawkeye is that the show is arguably Marvel’s most grounded work so far. Sure, we could, perhaps, consider the Hulk solo movie and the Captain America movies as being somewhat grounded, but none of them are actually on the level of this show and that is absolutely great; Hawkeye is a regular guy, he doesn’t even have any superpowers and yet, he works so well within the context of the Avengers, that it becomes obvious that his lack of flair is actually his advantage. And that is what the show focuses on and what it exploits in the best way possible.
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When you think of the MCU, you think of great effects, epic battles and a lot of CGI, which makes sense. And then, there’s Hawkeye, a show that is completely different in every aspect, and show that has managed to find its own voice and become both authentic and unique within a large cinematic universe that has, especially in recent years, become more like a self-repeating formula (or template), than something original. MCU’s movies are very similar – they have a similar narrative formula that they keep following, which kills of the creativity in all honesty – but Hawkeye is a dash of something new, although not completely different, but certainly new when compared to most of the other works. And this is the best aspect of the show without a doubt.
The second great thing are the characters and their actors. Now, Renner is a talented actor, there’s no doubt about that, and Haweye is a character that made his mark on the MCU and was liked by most (you couldn’t really complain about him like we did about Professor Hulk, especially when the badass Barton – Ronin – was introduced). In Hawkeye, both Renner and Barton finally got an opportunity to shine and they used that opportunity in the best way possible, showcasing Hawkeye as a standalone character, thereby illustrating why he was so important for the MCU and why he deserves to be on par with all the other Avengers.
In the show, he is joined by Kate Bishop, a character that is very important to the Marvel comics universe, and a character whose story is intrinsically tied to that of Hawkeye. Kate is a fan of Barton and she becomes his protégée in the show, although Barton himself doesn’t really understand her fascination with him, which is a constant source of humor between the two. Still, the relationship between Barton and Kate Bishop, played by the great Hailee Steinfeld, is another fascinating element of the show that shows how much effort the writers put into crafting both the characters and the story (the world) they live in.
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Hawkeye doesn’t have any major flaws in that aspect. The story is coherent, the characters are greatly written and interpreted, and the whole impression is very satisfactory; we couldn’t really find anything that was really bad. What didn’t impress us, though, was the pacing of the show, which is a bit slow, but once you get through it, it becomes very thrilling, combining superhero action with a very intriguing holiday mystery. We think that the show could’ve given a bit more time to the dynamics of the plot, but also the secondary characters, most of which feel like simple cardboard cutouts that serve to show us how Hawkeye and Kate work well together, but they don’t really seem like characters worthy of a story themselves.
In conclusion, Hawkeye is a good show. It’s not great, but it is very, very good. The most important thing it brings with itself is the fact that it manages to feel new and original within the MCU, which is not an easy thing, but also the interaction between Barton and Kate Bishop. There are some narrative segments that could’ve been worked out better, but that is why the show is not perfect and in all honesty, we think it’s better like this; these characters aren’t gods, they’re humans, and they’re heroes, so the imperfections actually make them look better and more realistic.