Marvel’s ‘Hawkeye’ exceeds expectations

The fourth MCU Disney+ series is a fun holiday-themed ride


Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios

Holiday-themed poster for “Hawkeye,” released on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios

By Krish Dev and Minjae Kang

From his brief cameo in the 2011 film “Thor” to saving the world from an extraterrestrial threat in the 2018 film “Avengers: Endgame,” Marvel Entertainment’s character Hawkeye, played by Jeremy Renner, has evolved into a central figure in the MCU since the franchise kicked off 13 years ago. Despite being one of the first characters to appear in the MCU, Hawkeye was the last member of the original Avengers — out of Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow, Thor and Hulk — to have a stand-alone film.

The six-episode Disney+ series “Hawkeye” delivers the first long-awaited story that revolves around Clint Barton and his identity as Hawkeye. The episodes were released gradually throughout the holiday season, with the final episode released on Dec. 22. Picking up from his retirement after the war against Thanos in the 2019 film “Avengers: Endgame,” the series tells the story of Barton, who is on a holiday staycation with his family. He meets Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), a 22-year-old who has idolized Hawkeye since he saved her life in the Battle of New York in the 2012 film “Avengers” and the two partners work together to solve the murder mystery of Armand Duquesne III (Simon Callow). They simultaneously must escape the wrath of the Tracksuit Mafia and its supposed leader Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox), who has been seeking vengeance on Ronin, Clint Barton’s vigilante alter-ego.

While heroes in many past MCU movies had to deal with world-threatening issues and various supervillains, “Hawkeye” provides a refreshing, original plotline for fans by focusing greatly on smaller-scale threats such as mafias, gangs and underworld crime. By incorporating various well-executed hand-to-hand combat scenes and thrilling car chases, the show serves as a refuge for those tired from MCU films filled with flashy, excessive conflicts.

Kate Bishop aims her bow as she attempts to escape from the Tracksuit Mafia with Hawkeye. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios

Furthermore, “Hawkeye” manages to find a balance between action and emotion to create a steady plotline. For example, fast-paced action scenes do not overshadow the struggles of Barton dealing with his dark past of becoming Ronin and later losing his partner Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), nor does it deter Kate Bishop’s attempts in finding her identity among family issues and her accidental involvement with the Tracksuit Mafia. In only six episodes, “Hawkeye” succeeds in showing a young kid who obsessed over becoming an Avenger eventually learning the responsibilities and sacrifices a hero must face, securely establishing a new hero in the MCU.

However, countless storylines that originate outside of the “Hawkeye” series clash throughout the six episodes, making the story chaotic on various occasions. Those unfamiliar with the 2021 film “Black Widow” might find the involvement of Natasha Romanoff’s sister, Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) confusing, as her relationship with and her motivations to kill Barton are not well established during the show. Moreover, the surprise factor of Kingpin’s (Vincent D’Onofrio) reveal during the later stages of the show is greatly underwhelming for viewers who haven’t watched Marvel’s “Daredevil” Netflix series, where Kingpin’s origin stories are explained.

Kate Bishop and Hawkeye partner up with festive Christmas trees in the background. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios

“Hawkeye” also fails to deviate from the stereotypical lighthearted tone that exists in many MCU films. With the plot being set during the Christmas holidays, the show successfully integrates a festive, holiday mood into the story by utilizing colorful backdrops and Christmas-themed music. Yet, the festive mood alongside several jokes and quips that do not contribute to the main plot are unsuccessfully integrated into dark, gritty moments of the story, which ultimately disrupt the flow of the series.

Despite its flaws, “Hawkeye” differentiates itself from previous Disney+ series through its street-level scale, exciting action sequences and carefully developed plot. The series also introduces dynamic characters, such as Kate Bishop and Maya Lopez, who are sure to star in future projects and add to the already massively successful MCU.

Rating: 4/5 stars

This story was originally published on El Estoque on January 3, 2022.