Just forget the words and sing along

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Thoughts on Hawkeye

Marvel Studios has had a heck of a year. When movie theatres starting opening back up, they came roaring back to the big screen. Black Widow, Shang-Chi, and Eternals were doing the kind of business they thought would take a few years after the pandemic to do again. And it's not over yet, as the hype for Spider-Man: No Way Home has reached a fever pitch.

But it started way before the theatres started opening up, as Marvel Studios' first TV offerings for Disney+ started popping up. Folks pointed out that WandaVision had more screen time for Wanda and Vision than in all the Avengers movies. That led to what was essentially a buddy cop drama with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. We got our first real taste of what the multiverse was going to bring us with Loki, and then we first started exploring that multiverse with their first animated offering, What If...? 

Hawkeye Poster

And now, the year on Disney+ closes out with the premiere of Hawkeye. Apparently, Marvel Studios was originally developing this as a movie before they decided to expand it into a series. I was lucky enough to see the first two episodes, and I have some thoughts.

Now that he has his family back, Clint Barton is trying to make up for lost time. He's taken his kids to New York City for a Christmas outing. First on the agenda, seeing the new hit Broadway musical Rogers, which is a musical retelling of the Battle of New York. (That's the events of The Avengers.) Needless to say, Clint finds people playing his friends -- especially his dear fallen friend Natasha Romanov -- a little bit triggering. On top of that, we see he's uncomfortable. Turns out he never really adjusted to his celebrity status as a superhero, unlike his fellow Avengers.

But as the day goes on, Clint turns on the TV and is horrified. As you may recall from Avengers: Endgame, seeing his family get snapped out of existence by Thanos drove Clint to a dark place. He took on the new masked identity of Ronin and started slaughtering crime lords. What Clint sees on TV is that someone adopted his old identity of Ronin. Clint figures he's got to find this new Ronin and shut them down before a whole bunch of skeletons come out of his closet and hunt them both down.

So who is this new Ronin? Kate Bishop. She lost her father in the Battle of New York, and was also witness to Hawkeye's heroics. She then spent her young life training with a bow, working to protect her family like Hawkeye would. Now, fresh out of college and ready to take on the world, there's something not right. She's home for Christmas and sees that her mother is getting ready to re-marry. Her future stepfather is hiding something, but she's not sure what. And it's her investigation that leads her to the Ronin mantle. 

Now with New York's underworld gunning for vengeance against Ronin, and Kate's future stepfather somehow connected to it, Clint Barton and Kate Bishop become unlikely partners to get to the bottom of it.

My first reaction to these first two episodes is this is reminding me a lot of Daredevil. It just has to do with the the New York setting and the criminal underworld as our main villains. In the first episode, Clint has an unarmed battle with a group of thugs that made me think I was watching Daredevil in his black track suit costume from season 1 of Daredevil. Makes me hope that the rumours that Vincent D'Onofrio coming back as Kingpin pan out. 

Unlike Daredevil, though, this has a much bigger budget and is much more polished, greatly resembling the Marvel Studios films. The quips and wisecracks are there as well. One of my favourite bits has to do with Kate realizing that Clint now wears hearing aids and asks how he got them.

CUT TO a montage of all the explosions that Clint has been close to.

Clint: Ah, who knows?

Of course, the performances are what keep bringing us back. Jeremey Renner again is great as Clint Barton, the world-weary everyman of the Avengers. He's thrilled to have his family back, uncomfortable with being recognized, and even more so when Kate Bishop shows up with her hero worship.

But the star of the show is Hailee Steinfeld as the young Kate Bishop. She is just utterly charming as she's coming into this world. She's got a nose for trouble as she tries to figure out her future stepdad, and she's got stars in her eyes when she finally comes face to face with Clint. Steinfeld just sells it.

Based on the first two episodes, Hawkeye looks like it's going to be a fun romp to finish out the year with Marvel Studios. I am eagerly anticipating the next episodes, to see how this all pans out.

Hawkeye hits Disney+ on Nov. 24.