TV Review – ‘Hawkeye’ is a Light, Entertaining Action Piece with Great Stars

TV Review – ‘Hawkeye’ is a Light, Entertaining Action Piece with Great Stars

The fifth TV show from the Marvel Cinematic Universe has arrived to close out just one first year of such programming on Disney+, and what a year it’s been. After a number of supporting characters from the movie series have received their own shows, it’s fitting that the only one of the six original Avengers not to get his own film should be next. With Black Widow finally receiving her due in a well-received flashback film this summer, now it’s Hawkeye’s turn to take the lead.

The first two episodes of Hawkeye reveal a playful spirit, one that’s mainly focused on Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) departing his New York vacation to spend Christmas with his family. The holiday theme makes sense given that the six-episode run of season one, which debuted just before Thanksgiving, will conclude on December 22nd just in time for anyone who hasn’t yet seen it to binge the entire show over another holiday weekend. Making Hawkeye even more light and entertaining is the presence of a new character, Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), who has trained herself as an archer and idolizes Hawkeye, who now needs to help her get out of a major mess involving some dangerous criminal elements.

Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye in Marevl Studios’ HAWKEYE. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

As with all of the Marvel series, there’s a certain amount of assumed knowledge necessary. Kate’s backstory has a great deal to do with the events of the Battle of New York, which takes place in The Avengers, and Clint’s history as Ronin from Avengers: Endgame is also crucial to the narrative. Viewers having seen Black Widow probably couldn’t hurt either, since, like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, a comprehensive familiarity with all of the films in the series is more helpful than with a series like WandaVision or Loki that builds its own world with new and invented supporting characters.

This is also a busy time for this show’s two stars. Renner anchors another series, Mayor of Kingstown, which started in mid-November and drops new episodes on Sundays on Paramount+ through early December. Steinfeld is most popular for her title role as Emily Dickinson in Dickinson on Apple TV+, which is in the process of airing its third and final season, which is set to finish just two days after Hawkeye does. The existing TV presence of these two performers cements them as relatable entertainers that audiences will likely be thrilled to see in these more casual and enjoyable roles. They also have great on-screen chemistry, and Steinfeld is clearly having a blast in a part that’s all about her getting to live out something she’s always dreamed.

Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) in Marevl Studios’ HAWKEYE, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. © Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

The question with this influx of Marvel programming is how necessary a series about Hawkeye really is, and the answer is that, while it may not have been absolutely critical, it is a lot of fun. There are clever moments in which Clint’s celebrity status and the popularity of the Avengers is showcased through a cringe-worthy musical version of the Avengers story that Clint is forced to sit through with his family or Kate mistaking a Katniss Everdeen costume for Hawkeye. Clint isn’t able to travel through the world anonymously, and he seems to be more annoyed than anything at the fact that he can’t live a normal and quiet life where no one recognizes him.

But it’s good for all Marvel fans that Hawkeye can’t remain hidden, since the first third of this show is action-packed and sets up a solid four episodes to come. The casting of Tony Dalton, a memorable addition to later seasons of Better Call Saul, as a wealthy man engaged to Kate’s mother Eleanor (Vera Farmiga) is very strong, and though his role in the threat Clint and Kate are investigating has yet to be revealed, he chews enough scenery to make ordinary moments feel infinitely more suspenseful and intriguing. This show may not have the dramatic impact or urgency of some of its predecessors or the sci-fi bent that features invented realities or a sacred timeline, but it knows exactly what it is: a witty, fast-moving piece of entertainment that should function well enough as an efficient holiday diversion.

Grade: B+

The first two episodes of Hawkeye are now available to stream on Disney+. New episodes premiere weekly on Wednesdays.

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