TV Show ReviewsJosh Reviews Hawkeye!

Josh Reviews Hawkeye!

These Marvel Disney+ shows seem to keep getting better and better!  I thought Loki was my favorite one yet, but then here comes Hawkeye which I might have liked even more!

Hawkeye was a terrific piece of entertainment.  The show delivered everything I wanted.  It was a great spotlight on Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye while also introducing a wonderful new character in Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop.  (Now, whenever I type “Kate Bishop,” I hear Yelena saying “Kate Bishop” in her sort-of Russian accent — I’m sure anyone who’s seen this show would agree!)  Hawkeye was a rollicking adventure story with emotional and physical stakes for the characters that was also a ton of fun.  The series did a great job at exploring its characters and allowing them time to develop and grow.  There was some great action and some exciting connections to the broader MCU (and beyond!).  I loved pretty much every minute of these six episodes.  I wish there were more!!

The show is directly based on the Hawkeye comic book series written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by David Aja from 2012-2015.  That is a brilliant comic book series — one of the best super-hero stories I’ve ever read.  (Seriously, it’s tremendous — if you haven’t ever read it, click here and enjoy.)  It’s a delight to see so many aspects of that series directly adapted to the screen and tweaked to fit into the MCU continuity — from the central Clint Barton-Kate Bishop relationship to the Tracksuit Mafia (all those guys who keep saying “bro”) to Hawkeye’s being partially deaf to the one-eyed Pizza Dog to so many other bits and pieces.  The MCU generally hasn’t directly adapted specific comic book story-lines (even the Thanos stuff is a pretty loose adaptation of The Infinity Gauntlet series by Jim Starlin), so it’s super-fun to see that comic book run so directly quoted here.  (Down to the look of the logo and closing credits!)  (Speaking of which: how great were those constantly changing credits??  I loved the extra effort to adjust the credits each week to what was happening in that episode.)

I’ve always enjoyed Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye, though I’d also admit that he’s generally been one of the least fleshed out of the main Avengers characters.  He’s also the only one to never get his own solo film.  And so it’s a welcome delight to see Clint Barton finally get his own much-deserved spotlight.  One of the main benefits of this being a six-episode TV show, as opposed to a two-hour movie, is that the show allows us to spend far more time with Clint than we ever have before, and the show makes plenty of time to let us just watch Clint being Clint when he’s not out battling villains.  I love this about the show.  The series beautifully develops and expands upon all that we’ve seen of Clint before.  We know Clint has fashioned himself into a super-capable super-spy.  We also know that he’s a family man with a family he loves dearly and tries to keep protected from his super-hero life.  It’s fantastic the way the show weaves together what we know already while allowing us to build a much deeper understanding of and connection to Clint.  It’s also terrific to see the show picking up the thread of Clint’s turn as the violent vigilante Ronin during the “blip”, a somewhat undercooked story-point from Avengers: Endgame.  (It’s interesting to see how so many of the recent Marvel shows and films have spent time addressing story-points from Endgame.  On the one hand, it’s cool to see that Endgame has had such a huge impact on these post-Infinity Saga stories.  On the other hand, it also retroactively shows us that some of Endgame’s story points were a bit of a mess and required cleaning-up…)  Anyway, I was pleased that the show didn’t gloss over Clint’s time as Ronin; instead, they centered it and developed a compelling story for Clint as we see him wrestle with what he did during that time when he thought his family was dead.  I also love the way the show allows us to see Clint’s continuing to struggle with the emotional fallout of Natasha’s sacrifice in Avengers: Infinity War.

In my best hopes for this show, I didn’t think I’d love the new character of Kate Bishop this much!!  Hailee Steinfeld is fantastic in the role.  (Once again, the MCU demonstrates its perfection in casting.)  I love this character.  I love the way the show charted Kate’s journey towards becoming a hero, and I love how much fun the show had in allowing her to have her own unique way of doing things (walking in full costume right into a building they’re trying to sneak into and assuming the man she encounters will dismiss her as crazy when she starts openly talking about being a superhero on a mission; childishly pressing every floor number button in an elevator to delay Yelena).  Most of all I loved the way the show gave time for her bickering/bantering chemistry with Clint to slowly develop into a true partnership with mutual respect.  (I wanted to have seen more of that between Sam and Bucky in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.)

Hawkeye is a great show — fun, funny, and nearly perfectly paced over its six episodes!

SPOILERS ahead now as I dive in more deeply:

I loved how the opening flashed back to the events of the first Avengers film in order to establish the original connection between young Kate and Hawkeye.  (The show fooled me by casting Brian D’Arcy James as Kate’s father.  I’d assumed casting such a well-known actor meant we’d be getting more of his story; because his death happened off-screen, I’d guessed that maybe he didn’t die or maybe he was murdered by Kate’s mom or something.)

I loved the action in the show, most particularly the incredible car-chase in episode three.  That was an extraordinary sequence, beautifully filmed (and very closely adapted from a similar chase in Matt Fraction & David Aja’s Hawkeye comic).  I loved the Children of Men type unbroken shot in which we’re zooming in around and through the car in which Clint and Kate are speeding.  I don’t know how they did that, but it was awesome!  I also LOVED all the fun with Hawkeye’s various trick arrows (again, that was ripped right out of the Hawkeye comics).  We hadn’t really seen much of that in the MCU so far, so it was great fun to see Hawkeye and Kate using all sorts of comic-booky trick arrows.  (I especially loved both uses of the Pym arrow!!  So funny both times!!!)

I’d mentioned above that I loved that the show took the idea from the Matt Fraction comics that Hawkeye was partly deaf.  That was very cool.  (I loved the hilarious montage of clips uses to explain why Hawkeye now needed a hearing aid!!)  However, one thing I’d hoped to see from that comic book storyline was the shocking sequence in which Hawkeye gets completely deafened.  It was the most memorable moment in the comic for me, and by bringing in the character of Echo, who is deaf, I thought for sure that would be a twist late in the season, a final huge obstacle for Clint to have to overcome.  I wonder why they didn’t choose to go there?

Speaking of Echo…  I was delighted to see this great character (a wonderful Daredevil supporting character first introduced in a story written by David Mack and illustrated by Joe Quesada) brought into the MCU!  Alaqua Cox is terrific in the role; I can’t wait to see where this character goes in her upcoming spin-off show!  I love that they cast an actress who is actually deaf to play this role.  (Interesting that she’s also an amputee, and they incorporated that into the character!)  I love that the show took the time, in episode three, to explore Echo’s story and develop the reason why she hates Hawkeye/Ronin so much.

I was SO HAPPY that this show brought back Vincent D’Onofrio as the Kingpin, reprising his role from the Netflix Daredevil series!!!  Those Netflix Marvel shows were originally intended to be in continuity with the MCU, but they quickly went their own way and future MCU movies never acknowledged them.  Once Netflix pulled the plug on all the shows I’d assumed that was that.  And so it was a wonderful surprise to see Mr. D’Onofrio and the Kingpin folded into the MCU!!!  (And then only a few days later I saw you-know-who in Spider-Man: No Way Home!!  What an incredible one-two punch!)  I love the Kingpin, and the character fits well into the grounded street-level universe of this show.  And, of course, the Kingpin was intimately involved in Echo’s origin story from the comics, so I was so happy to see them bring that aspect of Echo’s story into the MCU continuity.  It’s interesting to see how this version of Kingpin is different from what we saw in Daredevil — he seems superhumanly strong, for instance (which isn’t that different from how he’s often depicted in the comics, so I didn’t mind).  Is this the same character we saw in Daredevil, or is it the same actor playing a new version of that character?  (Sort of how Judi Dench’s M in the Daniel Craig Bond films is a different version of the same M she played in the Pierce Brosnan films.)  I love how Hawkeye allows us to choose to accept or not accept that the events of the Daredevil show are in actual MCU continuity; nothing in this series contradicts what we saw in that show.  That’s a nice balancing act.

I enjoyed seeing Vera Farmiga as Kate’s mom, Eleanor Bishop, and I absolutely adored the hilarious performance of Tony Dalton (so great as Lalo Salamanca on Better Call Saul) as Eleanor’s fiancee Jack Duquesne.  Jack is the Swordsman in the comics, and the show had fun playing with whether he was or wasn’t a villain.  I love that, in the end, Jack was just a blissfully ignorant patsy.  Jack got many of the series’ funniest lines, and Mr. Dalton was hilarious in his delivery.  I liked the twist that Eleanor was the one in league with the Kingpin… though I didn’t love that the show pulled back at the end to try to say that, well no, she was an OK lady just trying to get out of the mess her dead husband had left her in.  She did KILL Jack’s father Armand, didn’t she?

(Or did she?  Did she do the deed herself or just order his murder?  That’s one of several plot points that the show left a little murkier on than I’d have ideally wanted.  Eleanor hired Yelena, so I assume she could have hired someone to kill Armand.  Though, how on Earth was Eleanor someone who could hire a Black Widow assassin?  How is Yelena even someone who could be contacted by a criminal, since she’d been on a mission to free Black Widows, so I assume she was no longer an assassin for hire?)

Speaking of Yelena, Florence Pugh was once again an absolute pleasure to watch as Yelena Belova, reprising her role from the Black Widow film.  Her scenes with Kate Bishop (again, I’m hearing her saying “Kate Bishop” in my mind) were crackling fun.  I love that the show gave the time to these two characters to allow them to talk and bond.  (Their conversation over Mac ‘n cheese in Kate’s ruined apartment was a highlight of the show for me!)  (By the way, don’t think Yelena’s reference to the “new” Statue of Liberty slipped by me.  It jumped out when I watched the scene, and I was so happy to understand its meaning when I saw Spider-Man: No Way Home a week later!)  My only issue with Yelena’s appearance is that what we see in the show (in which Eleanor hired Yelena to get Clint out of the way) doesn’t jive with the post-credits scene from Black Widow, in which Julia Louis Dreyfuss’ character set Yelena on a path to kill Clint by telling her that he was responsible for her sister Natasha’s death.  That actually makes more sense than what we saw in the show, in which it winds up just being a coincidence that Yelena is hired to kill the man she hates.  I wish the show had better connected Yelena’s path to what we’d seen in that post-credits scene.  I did love getting to see what Yelena got up to after Black Widow ended, and it was wild to get to see the snap from her perspective as someone who got snapped out.  Very cool.

I loved seeing Simon Callow (who I will forever love from his memorable performance as Gareth in Four Weddings and a Funeral) as Jack’s uncle Armand Duquesne.  I wish he’d been in more than just the first episode!!

The trailers didn’t show Linda Cardellini as Clint’s wife Laura, so I’m so glad that she was in the show — and that she actually wound up having a substantial role!  I love that they didn’t choose to portray her as the nagging wife who was upset at Clint for choosing a mission over being home with his family.  I loved what we saw of their relationship (doing a great job of developing upon what we’d first seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron), showing them as a loving couple who are 100% supportive of one another.  They did of course make a MAJOR change to Laura’s character with the twist at the end.  In Age of Ultron, Laura was established as an ordinary woman, but I was delighted with the revelation that Laura was a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent (something I’d guessed early on in the show when they started hinting at Laura’s spy-like skills).  But, of course, not only did they reveal at the end that Laura was a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent… but she was Agent 19!!  Comic fans like me know that Agent 19 was Bobbi Morse — Mockingbird, who was Hawkeye’s most significant love interest (and wife, for a while).  I love this retcon that Laura was Mockingbird!!  That was very fun to discover.  If we get a second season of this show, I’d love to see them show Laura actually using those S.H.I.E.L.D. skills…!

(Interestingly, while nothing in Hawkeye contradicts the Netflix Daredevil show, establishing Laura as Agent 19 comes very, very close to wiping Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. out of continuity — which I have no problem with, by the way.  Mockingbird was a character on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., so if Laura is also Mockingbird then that’s a direct contradiction.)

I loved the whole idea of Rogers: The Musical… and I was so happy that we got to see the full song in the finale’s post-credits scene!

Speaking of the end of the show, I loved the hard-cut from Kate’s trying out different silly super-hero code-names to the Hawkeye title.  What a fun way of clearly showing that Kate is just as much Hawkeye now as Clint Barton.  (Perhaps more so?  I wonder if Clint is going to transition now into more of an elder-statesman role-model/advisor for Kate… and perhaps other younger super-heroes?  Are we going to get a Young Avengers show down the road…?  In the comics, Clint did wind up heading up various “spin-off” Avengers groups, from the West Coast Avengers to the sort-of silly Great Lakes Avengers.  It’d be fun to see him follow that path in the MCU.)

I really hope we get a second season of Hawkeye.  I’d happily watch many more years of Clint and Kate on adventures together.  Or, here’s another idea: how about a show with Kate and Yelena on adventures together??  That would be great!

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