The fifth entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Disney+ venture, “Hawkeye’s” release date feels important, more so than just because of its timely Christmas themes.
Following “Eternals” and “Loki,” “Hawkeye” feels like an acknowledgment that the pace of increasingly dimensional threats will only hold interest for so long. In recent entries, an important element of storytelling that the MCU has lacked is the use of “street-level” aspects to help keep the world grounded.
Feelings of de-escalation offered by Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lily’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp” following the dramatic “Avengers: Infinity War” was a needed palate cleanser to keep the universe fresh. Thankfully, “Hawkeye” is here to fill that role.
Introducing Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop and starring Jeremy Renner as the older of the series’ lead archers, “Hawkeye” finally fixes one of the MCU’s earliest mistakes.
Renner’s Clint Barton will almost always be the weakest person at the “Avengers” team bonding sessions— after all, he is just a dude with a bow. But this reality should never make him the least interesting, which has all too often been the case.
The chemistry between our two titular archers is what makes “Hawkeye” a unique experience. Renner and Steinfeld are lights out together, with their relationship never drifting into a boring “Batman and Robin” imitation.
Barton and Bishop are complete equals, with both sides having plenty to teach the other. The two will only rub off on each other more as both Hawkeyes work with each other’s character flaws.
Showrunner Jonathan Igla, of “Mad Men” acclaim, brings the show to life. More faithful in the spirit of its adaptation than some releases, “Hawkeye” brings in both original artist David Aja’s unique design and writer Matt Fraction’s humor.
Igla is especially skilled at utilizing situational humor throughout the first two episodes. Putting Renner in increasingly absurd situations (Hawkeye at an Avengers themed musical is classic MCU, “We’re better at this than you” flexing) will likely be a continuing plot device.
Steinfeld, who previously appeared in “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” is a perfect Kate Bishop; her comedic timing is perfect throughout the first two episodes, and she’s on the path to becoming an MCU mainstay.
“Hawkeye” is a tad slow to warm up from the show’s frosty New York weather, but Steinfeld and the action cinematography power through it. The road is laid for “Hawkeye” to be one of the best character studies of what it entails to be the human element on a team of gods and science experiments. Scenes of our stars trying to mend their mounting injuries are more than exposition dumps—it helps the audience understand the punishment this life is for them.
Along with the meaning of the mantel (and how many band aids Hawkeye goes through in a day), the groundwork has also been laid for a greater understanding of deafness in Clint Barton’s life. With Alaqua Cox’s Echo on the horizon, an excellent villain of the week style format is forming.
Marvel once again seems to be on pace to follow their blueprint of “Thor: Ragnarok” and salvage “Hawkeye” as well.
Featured image taken from Instagram: @haileesteinfeld