Hawkeye Nails The Best Parts of Any MCU Project
The problem with reviewing Hawkeye is not that it’s bad, but that it’s so consistently good, in that specific Marvel way, that to describe it in usual terms doesn’t work. We all know what a good Marvel thing is like: fun, witty, action-packed, with simplistic but likable characters. Sure, some of the fight scenes in the first episode are hard to track, and the LARPing scene could’ve been a smidge more fun and bombastic, but it’s got all the usual charms. It’s functional and effective. Hawkeye has no reason to reinvent the wheel, and MCU Hawkeye is not the character to do outlandish stuff with anyhow.
So, instead of the usual talking points, I’ll focus on the few standout features. Let’s start by talking about how good the dynamic is with Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) and Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner). We’ve seen our fair share of emotional “father-daughter” style relationships in media lately, but this is the first one I’ve seen that feels organic almost immediately. They don’t force it, allowing them to be a team by necessity, then growing to somewhat friends. If the story continues as I think it will from episode three, he’ll almost think of her as family.
Hawkeye Makes A Tired Character Dynamic Fresh
But what elevates this is two more amazing bits of acting. The first is taking something rather schmaltzy and turning it into something heartwarming. Hawkeye dotes on his children a lot, and at first, it feels emotionally manipulative, but it becomes such a big part of his character that it’s hard not to find it adorable. All his choices and mannerisms feel informed by his family. It’s sweet and fits with the whole Christmas angle.
The other one worth mentioning is how he teaches Kate Bishop. This is, as far as I can recall, the first real “sidekick” style connection we’ve had in Marvel, and it’s handled with a lot of nuance. I would love to see more scenes of him teaching tactics and techniques, like the bit with the head wound. What’s even better, is how easily and quickly Clint recognizes himself in her and adapts. He doesn’t dissuade her from being a vigilante, not really. He understands.
So Many Understated Moments Elevate This Show
But for scenes like these to be good, Hailee would also need to be killing it. Which, thankfully, she is. It’s in the smaller things where her character comes out: her indignant expressions, her nervousness, and little moments where you can see the thoughts clicking in her head. She’s a perfect addition to the MCU, and I hope she eventually gets to fight in bigger conflicts.
And this brings me neatly to another thing I’m loving about recent MCU projects: the established world. At some point, they started treating the audience as knowing most of the existing lore. And that allowed them to have the in-universe culture shift and expand around and in response to the superheroes. The stage show in the first episode is a brilliant example of this and has so much thought put into its one scene. If Disney made it, I would gladly watch that entire musical. But the smaller details are what really build up the world. Clint being so famous people ask for his autograph and the graffiti in the bathroom are details that need not be there but add so much vibrant texture.
The Worldbuilding On Display Is Kind Of Genius
But the big one, and the best one, is simply taking background details and applying them logically. I’m referring to Clint needing hearing aids. It makes the character more comic book accurate for one, and—as far as someone without hearing loss can speculate—seems to be good representation. Superheroes have always existed as a way for people to feel powerful in their own lives and making the MCU full of different and diverse characters just increases the number of people that get to feel super.
Like I said at the top of the article, Hawkeye is good. Though I loved the reality-warping pastiche of WandaVision, the absolute madness of Loki, and the crunchy fight scenes of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, this feels like the true point where the miniseries hit their stride. Hawkeye may be set at Christmas time, but whenever you can watch it, you should. Each episode is a present in itself.
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