Wednesday, December 1, 2021

‘Hawkeye’ Spoiler-Free Review: Marvel Shoots and Lands With Another Disney+ Series

The first two episodes of Marvel Studios’ fifth Disney+ series, Hawkeye, premiere tomorrow! Marvel’s addition to the holiday marathon lineup focuses around Avengers veteran Clint Barton and newcomer master archer Kate Bishop.

Jeremy Renner returns to play Clint Barton/Hawkeye for the sixth time in his 10 year Marvel career, debuting in the first Thor film. Along with him comes Hailee Steinfeld as Kate Bishop, Alaqua Cox as Echo, Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova, and Vera Farmiga as Eleanor Bishop, as well as Tony Dalton, Fra Fee, Zahn McClarnon, and Brian d’Arcy James.

Still of Jeremy Renner and Hailee Steinfeld
Mary Cybulski/Marvel Studios

First and foremost, this series is going to take a look into Clint Barton’s trauma from his hero history, following the Phase 4 trend of looking deeper at the ramifications of superheroes on society and on themselves. Marvel dabbled in looking deeper at these effects in Iron Man 3, exploring the PTSD of Tony Stark after the Battle of New York, but never before has it been a running storyline throughout the franchise. The effects of both the Snap and the Blip have been explored in almost every single Phase 4 project thus far, and the mental toll of being a superhero has been seen in multiple as well. Hawkeye is no different, and it’s a welcome small shakeup to the Marvel lineup after over 10 years of storytelling.

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Taking a deeper look at these effects is something not often seen in superhero films, if ever, and Marvel is certainly taking a risk continuing to lean into this new perspective, and it’s paying off. Particularly with characters like Clint Barton, who’s been around since 2011. It’s interesting to see some continue to perpetuate the idea that Marvel uses a cookie-cutter format, as Phase 4 has really proven to break from the Infinity Saga mold, if there even was one. The series especially are taking a deeper and more intimate dive into these characters than ever before, aided by the extended storytelling time a series leaves versus a two-and-a-half-hour film. Just in these first two episodes alone, we’re given more insight into Barton as a character than all of his previous films combined.

The holiday ambiance is simply delightful. A good action Christmas series was just what the doctor ordered. It proves to be the perfect motivator for Clint and a great tension creator within the Bishop unit. The fact this series revolves around this holiday isn’t just for show or effect, it’s woven into every facet of the story, and honestly, I’ll likely be turning this on every holiday season.

Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios

Jeremy Renner remains assuredly charismatic as Clint Barton, somehow able to blend the archer’s jaded outlook towards his own life with an impeccable sense of comedic timing. Barton’s deadpan delivery of his quick-witted jokes is something only Renner could do. I think a small part of everyone will identify with Barton’s exasperation after the past few years. Renner is an irreplaceable member of the Marvel team, one of three of the original six still canonically alive, and I can only hope that this series won’t be Hawkeye’s last.

On the other hand, in these first two episodes, it seems Hailee Steinfeld was unable to find her footing. Whether it’s the way the character is written or the methods Steinfeld is utilizing to bring her to life remains to be seen, but in contrast to comic Kate Bishop, there’s a large deviation. Some deviation is expected and almost always necessary, but Steinfeld’s Bishop is just a little too goofy and quirky for someone like me who’s a large fan of the Young Avengers. She does, however, shine in scenes shared with Renner, so I do hope that perhaps Bishop herself needs more time with her idol, Barton, to gain her own confidence as a character and we see a nice evolution throughout the series.

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The series is also drawing a lot from the source material, more so than other series in the past. Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye run is the main source material the series was based on, and already here in the first two episodes there are a lot of parallels for comic fans to be able to sift through. I think this is largely due to the fact that Fraction himself acted as a Consulting Producer for the series, something I hope Marvel continues to do in the future with the comic creators, as it’s already proving to be an invaluable asset.

Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios

Hawkeye will run for six episodes exclusively on Disney+, its finale airing just in time for a Christmas rewatch on December 22. Be sure to follow along with our continuing coverage of the series including recaps, deep dives, and more!

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Kaity
Kaity started with Harry Potter in second grade and it’s been a losing battle ever since, or maybe a winning one ... She lives in New England with a small herd of cats, two dogs, three chinchillas, and one daughter. Her main fandoms are Marvel, The Umbrella Academy, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings, with special emphasis on one vibranium shield-wielding Super Soldier. Contact: kaity@nerdsandbeyond.com

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