As Disney+ continues their seemingly bottomless dive into Marvel properties, it is time for Clint Barton’s close-up. While Hawkeye may not be everyone’s favorite Avengers in the MCU, Barton has been an integral part of the team since Cap drafted him way back in 1965 in Avengers #16.
The hard boiled archer, never short of arrows or opinions, endeared himself to readers as one of the key members of the team for decades. So, similar to what WandaVision accomplished with the MCU’s underserved Avengers couple, Disney+ hopes that lightning strikes twice with the time and space to expound upon the traits that make Hawkeye one of comicdom’s favorites. So far, after the two episode debut of the new series, it appears that they just might have done so.
And although we are talking about a show named Hawkeye starring Jeremy Renner (who has played the role of the purple archer ever since the original Thor film), the series is also designed to tell the story of and introduce Kate Bishop to the general public. In the award-winning comic series of the same name by Matt Fraction and David Aja (and Fraction luckily serves as a consultant on the tv series), Kate and Clint’s relationship turns out to be one of the most interesting and entertaining ones that Marvel has published over the last decade and serves as the basis for the program.
Although Fraction and Aja’s plot may not be apparent so far in the series, the plot devices, setting, and characterization will please fans of the comic. Renner (a dad with three kids and a wife in the MCU) is a bit different than the bachelor Barton we know from the comic series, but his sarcasm and frustration with Bishop and his past is apparent from the start. Renner has had moments to shine in the MCU before, but they were usually involved with Scarlet Johansson’s Black Widow, who despite her recent film, is no longer “available” in the storyline. Renner plays the role of doting father well in the scenes with his children, and puts on a brave face for someone coping with many recent loses.
Hailee Steinfeld captures the essence of Kate Bishop from Fraction and Aja’s series (as well as the excellent solo series by Kelly Thompson) as she tries to uncover a mystery involving her mother, her mother’s fiancé (who goes by the name of Jack Duquesne, which may just ring a bell with long-time Marvel readers), and a stolen Ronin costume. Steinfeld’s Bishop is resourceful, nervous, and star struck, and I imagine more of the repartee between the two Hawkeyes will amp up as the series continues, with Renner serving as a grumpy surrogate Dad, and Steinfeld as the quasi-daughter who pushes his buttons.
For all intents and purposes, Hawkeye plays like a mystery, something that we haven’t seen from Marvel since some of their Netflix content. And while Hawkeye is less gritty and violent than Daredevil, Punisher, or Jessica Jones, it does bear some similarities with the focus on street level heroes, mostly human advisaries (the Tracksuit Draculas, or Mafia, as they are called here), and setting.
The first two of the six episode series starts with enough material to intrigue mystery and MCU fans, but with a host of characters and information to be revealed, it shall be seen if the steady pacing over the course of the first two episodes is maintained, or if it becomes a race to the finish. So far, Hawkeye delivers with yet another unique flavor from Disney+’s stable of MCU series.