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A young Kate Bishop (Clara Stack) witnessing the events of The Avengers in Hawkeye, now streaming on Disney+ (Photo provided via @wandaskory on Twitter 

TV Review: ‘Hawkeye’ starts strong in its dual premiere

Let’s be real: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) is no one’s favorite Avenger, and the show even addresses this. Regardless, that didn’t stop me from being interested in this series, and I’m glad it didn’t. The dual Disney+ premiere, which hasn’t been done by Marvel since WandaVision in January, gave me everything I wanted and expected. Whether it be well-executed action, solid laughs, an interesting plot, nods to the Matt Fraction comic run it’s based on, plenty of Hailee Steinfeld as Kate Bishop and, of course, Lucky the Pizza Dog.

Hawkeye follows Kate Bishop, a college student raised in the high society of New York City, who just happens to be a master of martial arts and archery. When she’s backed into a corner by the tracksuit mafia, she assumes the identity of Ronin to fight back, not understanding the baggage that comes with that suit and title. When Clint Barton sees her acting as Ronin on the news, he seeks her out to keep her safe and take the tracksuits down.

I really enjoyed all that the series has given so far. While it may be a bit slow in getting its two leads together, it’s justified because the series has to establish both of these characters’ personal stakes and motivations going forward. I also think the dual premiere really helped this series. If audiences had to wait a week between the first and second episode, I could see a lot of people walking away from the series due to disinterest. 

I don’t think the first episode is bad by any stretch of the imagination, but Hawkeye doesn’t have great incentives to keep watching from week to week so far. The cliffhangers aren’t there like they were in Loki, WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. The rest of what’s going on is similar to Loki in quality, but it’s closer to The Falcon and the Winter Soldier in tone and content, and it is part of the more grounded portion of the MCU.

As with all of the Marvel Disney+ shows, the cast is fantastic. Steinfeld is perfect as Bishop. She’s endearing, smart and exceptionally skilled. She hasn’t had to show a great deal of emotion yet, but I can only assume she’ll kill those moments as well. Though Renner is being advertised as the lead of this show and it bears his character’s name, this is Steinfeld’s show through and through. All the episodes, at least so far, have started and ended with her.

That’s not to say that Renner isn’t present; he is, quite a lot actually. I think he’s doing a great job here as well, but it also feels like he’s in a different show sometimes, particularly when he’s interacting with his family. Yes, the show is set during the days leading up to Christmas, but he really seems to be leaning into holiday movie tropes, probably just in case he doesn’t get to be part of a Christmas project again. Steinfeld doesn’t do that and provides a performance that isn’t miles ahead of his, but it’s still better in most ways.

The rest of the cast, which includes Vera Farmiga as Bishop’s mother, Eleanor, and Linda Cardellini returning as Laura Barton, is seriously great, regardless of the size of their roles. Bishop’s soon-to-be stepfather, Jack, played by Tony Dalton, is another fun side character. Dalton plays this role with a smug and pompous attitude that makes you want to punch him just as much as Bishop does, and it’s fantastic. I can also only assume his role will grow as the series progresses, which is undoubtedly a good thing.

Even though we’re only a third of the way through this series, I can’t see where it’s really heading or where it plans to end. Sure, I expect Kate to become a mainstay in the MCU and to probably take up the Hawkeye mantle, but I’m unsure of what that means for Clint’s future in the universe. I don’t think he’ll die — that would be a bit too cruel for Marvel — but I can definitely see him retiring to spend time with his family while settling into more of a background mentor role. 

There also isn’t a real villain yet, though the ending of episode two teases one: a character named Echo played by Alaqua Cox. This character has ties to Kingpin, a notable New York villain in Marvel Comics who was most recently seen in Netflix’s Daredevil series, played by Vincent D’Onofrio, who’s rumored to be returning to the role. 

Hopefully, next week’s midpoint will give bigger hints as to what this is all leading to. For now, all we can do is speculate. 


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