Hawkeye has been fantastic for its entire runtime before this week’s finale. However, Marvel has struggled with its previous series to stick the landing, and that trend continues here. This episode isn’t bad, especially compared to The Falcon and The Winter Soldier’s finale, but it features some truly puzzling decisions and disappointing story conclusions.
I think this episode’s disappointment isn’t entirely its own fault, mostly due to Marvel fans being spoiled by a fantastically exciting Spider-Man film last week, but this finale is underwhelming nonetheless.
“So This Is Christmas?” picks up immediately following last week’s reveal that Eleanor is working with Kingpin, AKA Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio), and was the one to put the hit on Clint.
Clint and Kate quickly enact a plan to put an end to their problems, but that’s broken up by the arrival of the tracksuit mafia and Yelena’s attempts to fulfill her contract. All the while, Clint is trying to get home and spend Christmas with his family and Kate is trying to keep her remaining family together.
The remainder of this review will contain spoilers for the entirety of Hawkeye and slight spoilers for Spider-Man: No Way Home.
The twist the series was going for with Vera Farmiga’s character, Eleanor, just doesn’t work because it’s not surprising in the slightest. She was never likable and has been noticeably shady from the start. The bait-and-switch with Jack doesn’t work either because it just feels hollow.
With Jack being an extremely simple man who really only cares about swords and Eleanor, it would make no sense why Clint would buy into Kate’s theory about him, especially knowing that Kate doesn’t like Jack and is actively looking for an out with him. It’s frustrating how little intelligence Marvel thinks both its audience and characters have.
They’ve all seen movies and TV shows before Marvel. They know the clichés, tropes and conventions being used, especially when a show is being far from subtle about it.
At least there are a few saving graces, though. Each scene Florence Pugh appears in is pitch-perfect and just a lot of fun. Her chemistry with Hailee Steinfeld is palpable, and I really hope this series is far from the last time they get to interact with one another on screen.
The action on display is also really fun, with punches thrown, trick arrows flying and swords clashing. Sure, the implied violence is at odds with the series’ overall light tone, but it somehow works, even if Kate would be seriously traumatized for the death and damage she causes here.
I think this episode’s biggest flaws come with the fact that it’s just not a satisfying conclusion to this story or these characters. Especially since the post-credits scene is just the full “Save The City” performance from the fictional Rogers: The Musical, and doesn’t give any teases or hints about what’s next for these characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Some characters get much less satisfying conclusions than the main duo though.
Fans have been clamoring for D’Onofrio’s Kingpin to return ever since Netflix’s cancellation of Daredevil in late 2018 — their desire being justified based on his stellar performance in that show. Last week, it was revealed that he would be officially returning to the role on a much larger stage, and Charlie Cox was confirmed to be returning to the Daredevil character in Spider-Man: No Way Home; it seemed fated that these two would meet again.
Despite the clear potential for both fan service and common sense storytelling, as Daredevil and Kingpin are essentially connected at the hip when it comes to villain-hero relationships; Marvel decided to kill off Kingpin in this episode for seemingly no real reason.
Yes, he was killed off-screen, so it was most likely a fake-out, but the fact that they would even allude to killing him off this early into his return is insulting to the audience, the character and D’Onofrio. This decision, whether intentionally misleading or not, is just pointless.
That death scene also serves as the last time we see Alaqua Cox’s Echo, making her future in the MCU uncertain even though she’s slated to have her own Disney+ series at some point. It’s an odd choice to leave her future so open when Marvel has the opportunity to make it and her costars’ futures more certain in a post-credits scene or even during the actual runtime.
Speaking of Marvel’s future, there isn’t much on the horizon until Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness releases in May next year. That’s a five-month gap with no new Marvel content; a massive gap considering the sheer quantity of Marvel releases this year — which makes the lack of a real post-credits scene even more puzzling.
Why would Marvel intentionally troll their audience with a five-minute fictional Broadway performance instead of teasing them with what’s coming next when they know that they have to keep their fans’ attention due to having no content in the immediate future? It’s just odd.
The finale of Hawkeye fits into the mold of other Marvel Disney+ finales: fumbling potential while still having solid moments. It’s hard not to be disappointed with this series now that it’s over, especially since the rest of it was so consistently good.
I love Marvel and what it does, but I also don’t love it to the point that I can’t call it out when need be. If anything, this series serves as a solid Christmas special for Marvel fans until the Guardians of the Galaxy special next year. Now begins the long wait for Multiverse of Madness.