When it comes to the founding Avengers who started it all, Hawkeye has always been the least interesting and can usually be found on the wrong side of a joke. Well, does the new Disney+ show Hawkeye succeed in its attempt to place the background hero under the spotlight? Not exactly, it seemingly uses Hawkeye’s name as a means of advertising. This may not be such a bad thing.
I don’t think it is an unpopular opinion to say that Hawkeye should’ve been the one to take the fall off the cliff in Vormir. It would’ve been emotionally cathartic due to his recent merciless revenge hunt as Ronin and would’ve made Black Widow have a more purposeful journey in her long overdue film. It may also assist with the TV series identity crisis it’s facing – as it doesn’t quite have a set focus or direction two episodes in. At this stage, it appears to be a show that seems far more interested in a character that isn’t named after the Disney+ show. As above, this may not be such a bad thing – I’ll get to that later. As for the character Hawkeye/Clint Barton, the show doesn’t seem to have any interest in building that character or developing captivating aspects of the character. Hawkeye seems set on a narrative arc for Clint Barton that is surrounded in family aspects of the character – is there more to the Clint Barton character than just his family? The show is essentially doing the ‘one last job so I can get back to my family’ trope and using that as the backbone of the characters journey throughout this show. At this point, I don’t quite recognize this as a bad thing… yet. If you aren’t going to make your titular hero interesting then direct all focus onto their inevitable MCU replacement in Kate Bishop, portrayed by Hailee Steinfeld. Hailee Steinfeld immediately brings across her infectious energy to the character and provides enough justification for me to be excited to see her in this role moving forward. The show immediately provides her a compelling backstory and gets quite into her character as it explores how her situations have shaped her. Dare I say, we get more character development of Kate Bishop in two episodes of Hawkeye’s TV show than of Hawkeye in 10+ years of MCU stardom. I couldn’t definitively say but at this stage, Hawkeye has only provided a reason to keep tuning in week-by-week and that is due to Kate Bishop’s introduction alongside a magnetic performance from Steinfeld.
Beyond giving me a solid reason to stick with the show, Hawkeye establishes its tone quite quickly and lets its audiences know the small-scale nature of the series. In a cinematic world where the multiverses are opening and the timeline is being broken, it is a nice refreshing change of pace as the height of threat is lowered and therefore, more time can be spent on the characters. There are moments of some technical quality but those moments are few and far between leaving a lot more to be desired; particularly when compared to what WandaVision and Loki were doing.
Look, it isn’t easy to make a judgment on a show when I have only seen a third of the series. The first impression is solid and my curiosity has been captured but despite the moments of potential, it hasn’t hooked me quickly like WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki did.