Marvel: ‘Hawkeye” Episode 1 and 2 Review

Screenshot of Hailee Steinfeld and Jeremy Renner from the Disney+ show ‘Hawkeye’. Copyright goes to Walt Disney Studios and Marvel Studios.

Hey! Hallie Here!

Happy Thanksgiving! For those of us who live in the US, we spent most of the day eating lots of food and trying to come up with things to be thankful for, which depending on your family might have been that you only have to do this once a year. Meanwhile, Marvel decided to gift us with the first few episodes of their Christmas-influenced show, ‘Hawkeye’. I wasn’t really sure how to feel about this show when it was first announced. Marvel Disney+ shows have been kind of hit or miss for me. ‘WandaVision’ is one of my favorite shows of all time, but ‘Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ was shaky at parts and ‘Loki’ lost its footing in the last half. Not to mention the fact that I’m not the biggest fan of Jeremy Renner. But regardless of their faults, none of the Marvel Disney+ shows have been truly awful and Kate Bishop is enough for me to make up for my disinterest in other aspects of the show. And now that I’ve watched the first two episodes, I can safely say the good is so far outweighing the bad. There’s a lot to unpack here, so here’s your SPOILER warning! I’ll be talking about these episodes in depth ahead, so come back to this after you’ve watched them!

What I Liked:

Kate Bishop: As I expected, she’s my favorite part of this show so far. I really enjoyed that the show opened with a means of tying Kate Bishop into the first ‘Avengers’ film. Her character, and this show in general, has extremely strong ties to New York. What better way to demonstrate that than to show her family living through the disastrous events of Loki’s attack on New York. As for the character herself, she shines in every scene. Her sarcasm and her quick wit are very fun, especially in interactions with her mother’s fiancee. She’s also extremely intelligent, which works well for a protagonist attempting to unfurl a murder plot surrounded by the criminal underbelly of New York. But aside from this, she’s very naive and definitely in over her head. Which is still extremely fun to watch. She wants to be heroic and she wants to impress those around her, but her privileged life has shielded her from expecting the consequences of her actions. In one of her very first scenes she’s nearly expelled from her college program because she destroys a bell tower in an effort to prove her archery skills. And this trait only intensifies when she unknowingly grabs the Ronin costume to fight off various masked assailants and save a dog, only to have an entire mafia group follow her and attempt to murder her immediately afterwards. These traits play really well off of Clint, who tries to instill in her some more rationality while she does her best to prove that an earnest desire to do good can go a long way. She’s definitely a protagonist I’m excited to continue following.

Clint Barton: I can honestly say that I’m already liking this character much more than I anticipated. I never seemed to think the character of Clint was as boring as other people did. He was always the least focused on of the Avengers, but any time they did focus on him, his character felt more grounded and human than the others. Between his friendship with Natasha, the family that was established in ‘Age of Ultron’, and his care for Wanda and Pietro, nearly all of his main storylines were about his close personal relationships and his nonchalance about the superhero business. To me, that’s always worked in his favor. Clint feels like a real person I could encounter on the street. But that doesn’t make up for a lack of character development or the several controversies Renner has gotten into on his days off. However, this show gives us more to work with. First, the show gives him hearing aids! The character has had hearing aids in the comics for quite a bit of time now and that representation is extremely important. I’m grateful that this show finally decided to make that aspect of the character canon in the MCU. I also very much enjoyed the exploration of his trauma. Clint’s reaction to ‘Rodgers’ the musical, aside from the hilarious moment where he turned his hearing aids off, was gut wrenching. Even seeing an awful representation of Natasha on stage is still very raw for him, and it raises interesting questions about the way society handles trauma as well as the way society exploits it. The Ronin identity also brings up old trauma for him, and he pushes not only his family away, but Kate as well in an effort to deal with the problem on his own. His difficult life has most definitely turned him into a broken and cynical man, though Kate’s starting to get through to him. It was also nice to see him genuinely enjoy himself at the LARP event he attended. Despite everything, Clint’s still a really good guy who cares about people and it comes across.

Clint’s Family: I still see people tearing apart the idea of Clint’s family and I really don’t understand it. It might not be the most developed part of his character, but really, there isn’t much of his character that’s been fully developed anyways. In any case, his relationship with his kids feels genuine. I melted when he started signing with his youngest. I also really like that he doesn’t hide anything from his wife, Laura. While he is actively pushing his family away, he still apparently told his wife about the darkest part of his life and he feels it important to actively keep up that line of communication. So many shows would have him keeping the whole Ronin situation a secret, but all we see from Clint and Laura is mutual respect and understanding. I love that.

Echo: We’ve only seen one glimpse of her so far, but I’m already SO excited. Echo starts out in a pretty dark place in the comics, which seems to be what the show is going for as well, but she becomes a pretty amazing superhero in no time at all. And Alaqua Cox is actually Indigenous and deaf, which is incredibly important in accurately portraying this character. I can’t wait to see her journey in this show.

What I Don’t Like:

Kate’s Mother: I have no idea what’s going on with this character at all. I don’t know what her relationship with her daughter is supposed to be like. I don’t know if I’m supposed to like her or not. I don’t know if she’s supposed to be a victim or a villain. I have no ideas. When we first meet her she’s constantly fighting with her husband and doesn’t seem to know how to navigate her relationship with her daughter. Then, when Kate’s grown up, her mother lightly scolds her for destroying the bell tower before bantering back and forth with her about how proud she is of Kate and how much she loves her. But then, it’s revealed she got engaged without telling Kate. After that, she’s worried about Kate when the building they’re in explodes and when Kate’s apartment is attacked, but she doesn’t actually seem all that worried the very next day and doesn’t allow Kate to talk to her in private. Sometimes it feels like she cares about her creepy and obviously suspicious fiancee more than Kate, but others it feels like she cares about Kate more. And on top of all of that, we have no well established backstory on what their relationship was after Kate’s father died, making the relationship and the character more confusing. At this point it just feels inconsistent.

Ronin: It feels like the plot isn’t really taking what Clint did as Ronin very seriously. Yeah, he only went after criminals. But he seriously went on a murder rampage. There really isn’t any excuse for that. There’s no telling if they’ll go into the darker themes in this part of the storyline later, but for now it doesn’t feel entirely well handled.

‘Rodgers The Musical’: Really? You’re expecting me to believe a horribly written musical with high school-level costumes and no discernible budget made its way onto Broadway? AND was able to afford all those billboards around New York? What, did they spend all their money on marketing? (Also, imagine being an actor in the show and hearing the real Hawkeye was spotted in the crowd, only to be told later that he left halfway through. Ooof.)

Those are my thoughts so far! I’m very much enjoying the more lighthearted feel of this series. After the very serious content of the last few series, it’s nice to have something fun and Christmasy to put me in a better mood. I’m definitely eagerly anticipating what ‘Hawkeye’ will give us next. Especially with the promise of Yelena Belova coming as soon as the next episode, there’s a lot to be excited for.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

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