Marvel Cinematic Universe Retrospective: Hawkeye

How do we all feel about the Disney+ shows?

We’ve had four of them in the main MCU continuity alone, and I think that they’ve been very mixed bag. WandaVision was great until it remembered it had to have a Marvel ending, Falcon and the Winter Soldier bit off more plot than it could chew, and Loki was a bit of a mess despite having the biggest consequences with the creation of the multiverse. Much of the good stuff in these shows were sanded off thanks to their role in the wider MCU narrative, making them feel like extended set-ups for future movies – those things, unlike TV shows, that can make billions of dollars.

Hawkeye feels like a reaction to this trend, and it is all the better for it. Instead of planning for the future, like the rest of the shows, Hawkeye is firmly rooted in the present and how past actions inform the titular hero’s first standalone story. This show is connected to the two most important MCU-related plots of both Clint Barton and newbie Kate Bishop’s lives as heroes. Clint is our first main Avenger that we have seen actually have an aftermath to the events of Endgame, and he is an old broken man, who through the sacrifice made by his best friend, the late Black Widow, actually gets to enjoy a happy ending with the family she helped bring back. Kate is in origin story mode and, in a move that tells you a lot about this quite special character, saw Hawkeye’s heroics in the Battle of New York – battling aliens with a fucking bow and arrow – and thought, I could do that.

What follows for Kate is a life of dedicated training and study while also being a bit of a goof. I relate a lot to Kate, in that I want to be amazing at what I do but I’m also a low-level idiot who has hero-worshiped a bit too much in the past. Combine that with the casting of Hailee Steinfeld, or as I like to call her “the woman who made me cry during a Transformers movie”, and you’ve got a neat short cut to making Kate both likable and relatable. Quick note for those who think she’s a Mary Sue.: those trophies in her apartment aren’t there for decoration. it’s called visual storytelling. It’s hilarious that no one even questions Clint being good with a bow despite us not having any info about why the fuck he uses one in the first place. But everyone just takes that for granted. Rant over.

Hawkeye is not a totally amazing show by any means, but it isn’t burdened by the weight of the rest of the MCU like the others. What you see with Hawkeye is what you get: it’s Clint passing the torch, it’s Kate working to be worthy of the mantle, it’s Yelena COMING TO STEAL THE FUCKING SHOW LIKE THE ABSOLUTE LEGEND SHE IS. No multiverses, no vibranuim symbol shields, just good clean fun with solid-to-stunning action, a fun tone, and a need to not make everything so operatic. It’s a tonic to the likes of Loki and Eternals for Hawkeye to play out like a normal action series. Here is Marvel remembering what they’re good at – but there are still some of the same problems.

The Villain Problem

The inclusion of Wilson Fisk is a mistake. He’s a glorified cameo that doesn’t suit the tone of the show. I don’t know if this is the Daredevil version of the character; for some reason – despite being played by the same actor, this is an issue that is unclear due to the MCU distancing itself from the Netflix Defenders shows – but that version is an immense presence and one of the greatest live action comic book villains of all time. Here, he is largely wasted because Marvel went for our geek cred instead of giving Kate a better person to have her finale fight with. Mia should have been main threat, she was awesome enough to match Kate in a way that Fisk just isn’t.

Ticking the romance box

I love this. There is no romance plot apart from Clint trying to spend Christmas with his family. More of this please.

Hawkeye shows that not every MCU Disney+ show needs to be making huge strides for the franchise. Sometimes you just need some action, some comedy, Yelena, and a one-eyed dog to entertain you. It’s as wonderfully simple as that.

If you enjoyed this article, please check out the rest of our MCU retrospective, as well as our look at the Batman cinematic universe, and consider supporting us on Patreon!

By Kevin Boyle

(header image via Pinkvilla)

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