Hawkeye Season One Review

Rating:

Hawkeye Season One Hits the Bullseye

Main Cast: Jeremy Renner, Hailee Steinfeld, Alqua Cox, Vera Farmiga
Created by: Jonathan Igla

Kate: [as they pass a group cosplaying The Avengers] “Look, that one’s you.”
Clint:No, that’s Katniss Everdeen. Let’s go.”
Kate:Your problem is branding.
Clint:No, my problem is you, and this ninja suit, and that people are trying to kill you because of this ninja suit. The whole thing is a problem that I’m going to solve today so I can go home to my family.
Kate:No, it’s branding.”

Hawkeye Season 1, “Hide and Seek (Season 1, Episode 2)

The MCU has tackled several settings for superhero stories, including interstellar wars, time travel, and Kung-Fu showdowns. Now it’s expanding into a new genre: Christmas specials. Hawkeye features the most overlooked Avengers’ past coming back to haunt him while a new hero rises. So is Hawkeye naughty or nice? Let’s find out.

The Good

The Straight and Arrow Path

[Clint and Kate are escaping a warehouse]
Clint:We need a car.”
Kate:Ooh, can we take this one? Man, this thing’s gorgeous!”
Clint: [breaks another car’s window] “I’m not smashing a ‘72 Challenger. Come on!

Hawkeye Season 1, “Echoes” (Season 1, Episode 3)

Hawkeye feels like a superhero version of Lethal Weapon as a grizzled old hero saves the day when he partners with a plucky, eccentric newcomer he dislikes.

Clint Barton brings his family to New York for a Christmas vacation. Despite the cheer and merriment, he’s depressed by Black Widow’s sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame and lingering issues from his superhero career. He soon learns that someone has been running around in his Ronin costume and investigates, discovering that the new Ronin is a young socialite named Kate Bishop.

Kate idolizes Hawkeye after he saved her life during The Avengers. She studied martial arts and archery in hopes of becoming a hero herself. During a gala, she stumbled across an underground auction selling stolen Avengers gear, including the Ronin costume. Kate took the costume, but ended up with a huge target on her back when criminals attacking the auction though that she was Ronin. Hawkeye protects Kate while trying to put an end to the Ronin legacy.

Clint quickly falls into an aloof big brother role, trying to keep Kate safe with a perpetual expression that screams “I’m getting too old for this s***.” Kate is starstruck by Hawkeye and constantly tries to become his sidekick. Over time, she brings Clint out of his sullen shell.

Hawkeye and Kate aren’t alone in their fight. Early on, they make contact with a group of rescue workers when the Ronin costume is mistaken for a prop at a LARP. Clint’s reluctant participation in the LARP convinces the workers they’re friends, leading to them helping with red tape and recovering items from the police. Kate also rescues a dog she names Pizza Dog, who saves them on several occasions.

Heroic Holidays

Hawkeye: [being charged by multiple criminals] “This is some Christmas.

Hawkeye Season 1, “So This is Christmas?” (Season 1, Episode 6)

Hawkeye is a Christmas-themed series, you’ll find it’s true.
Why Clint and Kate have the skills of ten Avengers, plus two.

New York is decked out for the holidays when Clint arrives with his family. They make several holiday plans before he has to send them home to keep them out of the crossfire. As days pass, he misses out on more family traditions. Much of the tension through the season’s latter half is whether he’ll manage to fix everything and get home in time for Christmas.

The final episode features Hawkeye and Kate trying to protect a target during a Christmas party at Rockefeller Center. Clint has only a fraction of his gear to use against hordes of goons, leading to a lot of improv. It really feels like the writers threw up their hands and said “Screw it, we’re doing a Die Hard remake with Hawkeye.” Note that I didn’t say that was a bad thing.

Christmas songs play a large role in Hawkeye. Many major scenes are scored with numbers like It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Christmas in Hollis, A Mad Russian’s Christmas, and every other Yuletide tune known to humanity. The best use is when Hawkeye reveals the Big Bad and the credits play “You’re a Mean One, Mister Grinch.” A more perfect song could not have played.

Hear No Evil

Kazi: [interpreting for Maya, who is signing] “She says you rely too much on technology.
Clint:Well, my main weapon is two sticks, so…
Kazi:She means your hearing aid. You might find you’re better off without it.
Clint: [glances at Kate] “Yeah, sometimes I think that very same thing.

Hawkeye Season 1, “Echoes” (Season 1, Episode 3)

Makkari of The Eternals beat Hawkeye to featuring the first Deaf MCU character, but the show follows in Eternals’ footsteps by featuring two more.

Hawkeye spent several years fighting apocalyptic battles that eventually caused hearing loss. He copes by wearing a hearing aid and studying ASL, but isn’t a fluent signer. Clint’s hearing aid is eventually damaged, and he struggles with communication until it can be replaced. 

Viewers are introduced to Maya Lopez, a Deaf gang leader working for the Big Bad. Kazi, her second-in-command, translates for her. Most of her lines are subtitled, but her first few sentences aren’t to demonstrate that neither Clint nor Kate can understand her. Luckily, her actions speak louder than words.

Two characters with hearing issues allows for interesting scenes, such as Kate having to help Clint answer a call from his family or the heroes not recognizing a silent alarm in Maya’s apartment until it is too late. One of their final conversations is done entirely in subtitled sign language, which you rarely see onscreen.

One very sweet behind the scenes moment was described as Jeremy Renner and Hailee Steinfeld learning some basic ASL so they could greet Alqua Cox on her first day of shooting. She says that the gesture made her much more comfortable about her first acting job. Kudos to them.

The Bad

Too Many Crooks

Kate:Maya’s here!
Clint:Yeah, I can see that.
Kate:Then why didn’t you tell me?!
Clint:I did. She’s on the roof with me.
Kate:No, Maya is definitely here!”
Clint:Then who the hell am I fighting?!

Hawkeye Season 1, “Partners, Am I Right?” (Season 1, Episode 4)

It feels like every other Disney+ MCU show has a similar problem. If Ms. Marvel runs into the issue of having too many villains and plotlines after The Falcon and The Winter Soldier and Hawkeye, then we have a pattern.

Hawkeye tries to protect Kate while dealing with his past as Ronin and getting home in time for Christmas. Kate’s attempts to impress him and investigate her stepfather’s criminal connections adds to the plot. Throwing in the LARPers antics, Maya, her gang, and Pizza Dog makes for a full show, but more elements get added.

Black Widow’s Yelena Belova shows up to assassinate Hawkeye because she blames him for Natasha’s death. Florence Pugh’s portrayal of the character is a delight and her chemistry with Kate is a highlight, but Yelena’s presence overfills the show.

The Big Bad is the cherry on top. This character has major implications for the MCU and connections to another series, but only cameos in the penultimate episode before writers crammed the character’s own arc into the final episode. The finale is far too compressed for them to feel like anything but an interloper.

The Verdict

Hawkeye’s first season is enjoyable. The lead heroes have good chemistry, the villains are great, and the Christmas shenanigans make for an interesting plot. There are too many plot lines and characters to juggle near the end, but Hawkeye is still a fun show worthy of your time.

Image: Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) and Hawkeye/Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) in Marvel Studios’ HAWKEYE, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

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