Spoiler-Free Review: The Premiere Episodes Of Hawkeye Opens Up The Street-Level MCU
The newest Marvel Studios television series gives the last of the original six Avengers his solo outing, but it also introduces the next-generation Hawkeye. Kate Bishop made her first appearance in Marvel Comics in Young Avengers in 2005, so it was only a matter of time before she was introduced into the MCU. In the premiere episodes of Hawkeye, the story focuses almost solely on Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop and her interesting connection to Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton. Almost every Marvel Studios joint since Avengers: Endgame has been focused on the consequences of living in a world with superheroes. This story is no different, yet in this case the consequences at play have little to do with Avenger-ing and everything to do with how Barton spent his time during the ‘Blip.’
The show highlights the relationship and chemistry between Clint and Kate. Whether in the world of the narrative or the real-world, it’s fair to ask, “Is Hawkeye anyone’s favorite Avenger?” Yet, despite any lingering resentment about his fate compared to Black Widow’s, the premiere episodes of Hawkeye remind us that Clint Barton has always been a capable and entertaining hero. Renner brings Barton’s charm to life again as the reluctant adventurer once more pulled away from his beloved family on some superhero business.
Bishop, on the other hand, is the classic young superhero-to-be. She doesn’t know where she fits in the world. She has a number of useful skills, including hand-to-hand combat and archery, but lacks the sort of direction a superhero usually has motivating them forward. Frankly, finding that path seems like what this series will be about. Luckily, the dynamic between Renner and Steinfeld promises that watching Kate find her way will be a blast.
The Kate and Clint Show
Image by Mary Cybulski via Marvel Studios
The heart of this series will almost certainly be the relationship between Clint and Kate. This makes sense because some of the best early Kate Bishop stories in the comics were about that as well. Luckily, Clint’s ‘I’m-Getting-Too-Old-For-This-Shit’ attitude is a nice contrast to Kate’s eagerness to fight the good fight. In fact, the opening scene of the show establishes both why that is, and why Hawkeye is her favorite Avenger. Of the Disney+ series, Hawkeye is the first one to truly give us a mentor and apprentice pairing. The dynamic that will be most interesting is how Clint chooses to mentor Kate, and how hard he tries to dissuade her from ‘the life.’
Without getting into spoilers, the storytellers make a great choice when it comes to what, specifically, Clint needs to teach Kate. For all the whinnying by those who call every woman protagonist a “Mary Sue,” extensive physical and skill training in combat and weapons is not very narratively interesting. The best mentor and apprentice relationships in fiction are those where the experience of the former teaches an essential lesson to the latter.
As much as some MCU fans wish it was Black Widow instead of Hawkeye out there living their life, this story could also be very good for Clint. Consequences are a big deal in Phase 4. Giving Clint someone else to mentor like he did Natasha after she defected can help him get over his survivor’s guilt. Clint didn’t so much retire as he gave up on being a hero. Helping Kate become the best Hawkeye she can be is a way to leave the hero game the right way.
The Street-Level MCU Comes Alive In the Premiere Episodes of Hawkeye
Image by Chuck Zlotnick via Marvel Studios
Watching the premiere episodes of Hawkeye, I was reminded at the joyous ridiculousness of the superhero archer. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Renner was even given a short speech indicating such. “Ok, look, the city is flying, we’re fighting an army of robots, and I have a bow and arrow,” he told Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda, adding, “None of this makes sense.” However, as the first season of Arrow proved, it does make a little bit more sense when the super-archer is fighting street-level thugs. My favorite scene from the Hawkeye trailer is this brief shot of the Tracksuit Mafia lobbing a Molotov cocktail at Clint in a window, and he catches it and throws it back to them. When the regular-old humans go up against gods, they can look weak or, at least, superfluous. When a regular human Avenger goes up against regular-old humans? It’s not even fair.
The bad part of escalation in the MCU is that every single threat has to threaten existence. There’s a demon coming from another dimension that will end all life. The universe is tearing itself apart and blending with other realities. The gods are going to destroy Earth. But a superhero story doesn’t have to have those great stakes. It can just be some very bad people trying to hurt some innocent ones. That’s all the drama and stakes you really need. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier understood this, and I think Hawkeye does, too.
Hawkeye premieres Wednesday, November 24, 2021, on Disney+
What are you most excited to see in the premiere episodes of Hawkeye? Share your thoughts, reactions, and theories in the comments below.
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.