“Your problem is branding,” Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) told Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) in the second episode of Hawk Eye. “Your whole thing is, you’re discreet. It is a very difficult brand to sell. She’s right about Clint’s big screen appearances, where he tends to be overshadowed by the super-soldiers and billionaires who are his Avengers teammates. But she’s wrong when it comes to Hawk Eye, its first release on small screen. Its low-key vibe is precisely what makes it special.
The series begins in a penthouse, where 13-year-old Kate witnesses the Battle of New York (i.e. the climax of 2012’s The Avengers) – explosions, interdimensional aliens, giant green Hulk and all. But that’s about as much superhero extravagance as it was in the first two episodes of Hawk Eye. After this brief prologue, the series moves on to the present day, where Kate and Clint are both occupied with more ground-level concerns. Like Clint’s determination to return home to his family for Christmas, in less than a week. Or Kate’s suspicion of the wealthy charmer (Tony Dalton) wooing her widowed mother (Vera Farmiga).
The bottom line
A refreshing, low-key release for Marvel at least so far.
Clint and Kate are strangers to begin with. But at the end of the first episode, their paths cross through a series of snowballing events involving an army of interchangeable henchmen, at least one high-society mystery murder, and the reappearance of a known mysterious vigilante. as Ronin, who Marvel fans will recognize as Clint’s alter ego from the moment he embarked on an international killing spree between Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.
As the paragraph above suggests, Hawk Eye rewards longtime fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In addition to the storylines built on those that came before, the series is littered with references just for fun like Rogers the musical, a cheesy Broadway show that turns Captain America’s most famous catchphrase into a chorus.
But the series welcomes newcomers in a way that other Marvel Disney + shows, like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, have struggled to accomplish. Any necessary exposure is built into the dialogue or setting, and the main narrative prioritizes character development and chemistry over intra-franchise connective tissue. You could probably enjoy the comedic action beats of Buddies from Hawk Eye without caring too much about what’s going on in the rest of the MCU, though all of those Easter Eggs might look like pointy invitations to start.
As Clint, Renner takes on the role of everyone’s harassed character of a perpetual underdog – his Hawkeye may be an internationally renowned celebrity, but he’s keenly aware that most of his brilliance is only the light reflecting off the even larger stars around it. It is a quality that Hawk Eye Creator Jonathan Igla borrows from Matt Fraction and David Aja’s famous comic book series, and he’s the one that helps unify the inconsistent characterization in the films, where Clint has been painted differently as a healthy dad, a tough guy. jaded and an anguished murderer. (In fact, the latter is still hard to reconcile with the rest.) Seen through the eyes of a fan like Kate, it almost seems costs, even as he protests that Hawkeye toys and Halloween costumes are barely flying off the shelves.
But it is Kate herself who is the real star of Hawk Eye, and one that seems destined to emerge on the other end of the phone as a new fan favorite. A college-aged troublemaker who’s as quick with a quip as she is with an arrow, Kate plays with Steinfeld’s strengths, already explored on Dickinson and in The edge of seventeen, conveying flair and determination through comedic crackerjack timing. She especially wins in her scenes with Renner, who pares his youthful enthusiasm with big brother weariness: when Kate brags that “some people have actually called me the greatest archer in the world,” Clint responds with “Are you?” are you one of those people?
In Kate, Hawk Eye offers the ideal combination of snark and seriousness that almost every Marvel project seems to aim for, to one degree or another; this is a franchise where even a large scale magical war will stop for a first track. Sometimes these comedic beats can feel like strained efforts to undermine the greatness and self-importance of films, to insist to viewers that these gods or aliens really are very relevant, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Corn Hawk Eye comes naturally through his irreverent sense of humor, building an entire town around Clint and Kate populated with a “tracksuit mafia” that punctuates every phrase of “bro” and a really good pooch affectionately known as Pizza Dog.
Either way, what is there for these two distinctly non-overpowered heroes to do in such a overpowered world, other than sketch a wry smile and try to get on with their lives? Of course, Marvel being Marvel, there’s a good chance that Hawk EyeThe franchise’s first season will end as most stories in the franchise do – with a battle in the debris-strewn sky made up mostly of beams of light, in which our heroes are tasked with not only saving the world, but also saving the world. set up four other projects to appear over the next eight years. In the meantime, however, Hawk Eye comes across as a rare treat – a Marvel story worth saving not despite her humility, but because of her.
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