Hawkeye has never been my favorite character in the MCU. He’s a character that when he comes on is the studio’s way of signaling to the audiences that now’s the time to leave and use the bathroom, this is just filler. He’s not alone, Vision and Wanda scenes were also great bathroom breaks. But then the MCU started making television shows and lo and behold they started to fix the many issues plaguing these characters, they became interesting.
1. Kate Bishop- I’m not going to front, Hailee Steinfeld is the big reason I wanted to check out “Hawkeye”. Ever since The Edge of Seventeen, I have been a fan. (But what about True Grit you shout. Chill, I saw it afterward.) Her Kate Bishop is a chaos agent hellbent on ignoring her hero’s advice. A loveable fail whale Kate nonetheless has you rooting for her the moment she shows up to a party in a swanky suit after her mother told her there was a lovely red dress waiting for her. Her infectious optimism combined with her innate sweetness makes her an unlikely protege to Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner).
2. The way they portray hearing loss – The other reason I was interested in “Hawkeye” was learning that Clint Barton would be hard of hearing and that Alaqua Cox, a deaf actor, would be playing a deaf character, Maya Lopez aka Echo. Now while they don’t pull it off perfectly (many scenes have characters signing off-screen, or worse, only show the top of their fingers) they do a better job than I expected. Clint’s tendency to turn off his hearing aids, just so he could be alone with his thoughts, is very accurate, speaking as someone who has done the same thing.
3. Those lovable meatheads, the Track Suit Mafia – The Track Suit Mafia are the stormtroopers of the MCU. They can’t hit the broad side of a barn and if there’s no one there to look after them will more than likely end up spending their time talking about great tracksuits. The Track-Suits seem like 9-5 henchmen with Kate even giving relationship advice to one of them while being held captive. They aren’t effective, but I love how the MCU seems to be saying “Competent henchmen, in this economy?”
4. The overall style – Ever since the MCU started making mini-series it has been as if they had a revelation. These stories can have varying styles and moods. The shows embrace the fantastical without shame as well as tackling issues the writers or the fans may not be entirely comfortable with. Hawkeye isn’t groundbreaking but it does have its own style and feel.
It’s more grounded than Loki, not as serious as The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, or as surreal as Wanda-Vision. But it isn’t afraid to have a car chase scene in which much of it is one long continuous shot, mixing CGI camera work and real camera work while the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies” plays on the soundtrack. The show isn’t afraid to utilize editing as a narrative tool such as the opening credits of the first episode which does a lot of character exposition which saves us like two episodes and a plotline worth of legwork. Or when Kate asks Clint how he lost his hearing., and we get a montage of all the times Clint falls, being near explosions, to the tune of “Little Drummer Boy” and answering “Too hard to tell.”
But it has fun with the little things. Much has been said about “Rogers the Musical” but it’s the stuff like “Fat Man Used Cars” that I loved. Not to mention the arrows-oh the arrows are just fun and inventive in a way the cinematic universe has always been afraid to be. From Pym arrows to USB arrows, the show isn’t afraid to lean into its more absurd qualities.
Also whoever made the decision to play “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch” right after a reveal of a certain character, kudos. Four for you, Glen Coco.
5. The Characters – Yes, most MCU properties have characters. But Hawkeye is filled with people who aren’t superheroes or supervillains. This makes the world feel bigger and more lived in while also allowing a more tonally and character-rich world in which to play. Whether it’s Jack (Tony Dalton), Kate’s mustache-twirling Himbo of a future Step-Dad, Grills (Clayton English) and the rest of the NYC Larpers, Yelena (Florence Pugh), or Gary (Brian Troxell), it’s a universe of people who pop up over and over, either for narrative reasons or simply because it’s a small world after all.
More than that is what they do with Hawkeye himself. Gone is the stoic, serious, trauma, mopey archer. Now he’s still all that but he’s also a great Dad who loves his kids and isn’t afraid to say or show it, has a great relationship with his wife Laura (Linda Cardellini), and gradually, bit by bit, we see Clint begin to enjoy life as well as confront his grief over losing his best friend. At one point Grills after forcing Clint to Larp with him asks, “You did have fun, right?” Clint smiles begrudgingly, “I’m glad I did it.”
Images courtesy of Disney Platform Distribution
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