It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and Clint Barton wants to make sure his family has the best Christmas ever. If that sounds cliche to you, that’s because it is. However, when you take a traditional Christmas premise but put a founding Avenger at the center of it, you have something far from cliche. Marvel Studios’ Hawkeye is finally here on Disney+ with a two-episode premiere. The show, centering on one of the original six Avengers, Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), and his unlikely run-in with Ronin wannabe Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld). Deeply inspired by Hawkeye’s actions, Kate has taken on super-heroics herself. The result is the team-up we get in this grounded and hilarious Disney+ show.
After the surreal and magical WandaVision, the espionage and political The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and the multiverse shenanigans of Loki, Hawkeye serves as an ear to the ground corner of the MCU. Similar to that of Falcon or even Spider-Man: Homecoming, Hawkeye feels a lot more low stakes. The first two episodes set the tone and story near perfectly. As a result, we have what could be the best premiere of the Disney+ shows yet.
Taking place after the events of Avengers: Endgame, Hawkeye sees Clint confront his time as Ronin in the five years in-between the last two Avengers films. However, there’s a lot of the spotlight on Kate Bishop too. The particularly touching opening not only develops Kate but adds a new perspective to Clint as well. It’s a good example of how the rest of the two episodes play out.
Steinfeld in these first two episodes is phenomenal. We see her understanding of the character through her relationship and on-screen chemistry with Renner. Speaking of Renner, his performance as Clint is more of the same. That isn’t a bad thing, though. At this point in the MCU, some veterans have become comfortable with their characters. Renner is no exception, clearly comfortable in the role of Clint. However, this is a more worn-down Clint. Clearly weighed down by his past events and actions, as well as the absence of Natasha.
Kate is more of the focus than anything, though. Her backstory and family dynamics are established well in the first episode. Mainly, her relationship with her mother Eleanor (Vera Farmiga). Moreover, how she comes into possession of the identity of Ronin is thoroughly entertaining. Kate brings a whole different level of charm to the character of Hawkeye. Eventually, when the paths of Kate and Clint eventually cross, Hawkeye really begins to hit its stride. That’s saved for the second episode, however.
The second episode of the series has the storylines of Clint and Kate cross. After the hectic and exciting setup of the first episode, the second kicks things into gear. Mainly we get to see the first interactions between Kate and Clint. It’s as humorous and heartfelt as you could expect. Kate’s enthusiasm and youth clashing with Clint’s world-weariness is a cliche pairing trope but it works so well. The way the two bounce off each other makes for a great pairing. Seeing Clint interact with someone who isn’t an Avenger or a well-established partner shows a different side to him that we haven’t seen before.
Clint’s responsibility to his family is briefly touched upon, but not as elaborate as it should be. While the first episode showed more of that dynamic, the second has them put to the wayside. Instead, Clint spends time alone trying to cover up his Ronin past. We’re treated to some absurd situations, showing Clint in situations he’s never been in before. Some of these more ridiculous scenarios help to balance out the cliches that the show is ridden with.
Kate’s side of the story in the second episode has some interesting family dynamics. Her relationship with Eleanor’s fiancé Jack (Tony Dalton) is the highlight of Kate’s story in the episode. The conspiracy surrounding Jack, better known as Swordsman in the Marvel comics, seems to be at the center of it. Things kick into gear with the Tracksuit Mafia and the introduction of another big character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Overall, the first two episodes of Hawkeye manage to be an intriguing setup, although filled with plenty of cliches. The chemistry between Renner and Steinfeld carries the series so far as well. It will be interesting to see how the show develops these new characters and relationships while delving more into the Bishop family history. Most importantly, how Clint comes to terms with his past and goes forward with the newfound apprentice in Kate Bishop. – Ernesto Valenzuela
Grade – 8/10
Hawkeye Streams New Episodes Every Wednesday on Disney+