Marvel has perfected their formula for entertainment. More than 23 movies later, they have been able to transform the formula into some great shows. Apart from Wandavision (which was a unique concept & hard for me to get into), they have succeeded in engaging me with Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki and What If...
It is their unique way of blending in big screen characters and adapting them for the small screen. They occasionally dabbled with this in a few series like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., where the big screen storylines affected the small screen, except for the snap. But now they have gone full on with the integration, which is greatly evident with Hawkeye.
Introducing Kate Bishop
After Endgame, it seems the reigns are being handed over to a new lineup of superheroes, the next generation and introducing Hailee Steinfeld as Kate Bishop seems to be in line with that. She fits quite well into the role providing a good offset to Clint Barton's broodiness (which seems to have intensified, justifiably, after the passing of Black Widow). Her lightheartedness is very much needed and goes with the theme of the season.
The brilliant Jeremy Renner
I always felt Hawkeye is an underrated character and this show does finally do justice to give him the spotlight he deserves. There is some self referential humor in the series, where even Clive is aware of how his role is often sidelined in lieu of the more powerful superheroes. And playing this very human superhero, Jeremy Renner exhibits his range of emotions and you can feel his sadness as he deals with the recent traumas.
We get to see the gratitude of having got his life back, him fighting the literal demons of his past (which basically kicks off the plot in the first place) and being ready to accept help and a new partner in his fight.
The Ronin Storyline
It seems so strange that a brief side story from the movies, one which we would have even left behind, the Ronin storyline, forms the base of this series. In the face of saving the world, why would even such a side quest matter and so it was after Endgame, until we got a chance to see the consequences in this series.
The Daredevil connection
Every show needs a good villain and I was pleasantly surprised when I saw Kingpin play that role. Not only did they have him here, but it was the very same Kingpin from the Daredevil series. The recent Spider-Man game and the Spiderverse movie brought Kingpin in different forms, but form me the OG will always be the one from Daredevil. It would have been hard to see another actor fill the shoes of that Kingpin.
In extension of Kingpin, we meet Echo, who brings her martial arts training and action to the table to pit against both Hawkeye and Kate Bishop. I loved how the series grounded all the villains, making it realistic, albeit not as gritty as Daredevil.
The new Black Widow
I think one of the best parts of the Black Widow movie is the introduction of Yelena and the dynamic she had with Natasha. One of the biggest heartbreaking moments of Endgame was the death of Black Widow and the movie gave us another chance to see Natasha in action. In part that opportunity seemed to be wasted with that convoluted plot, but passing the baton to the new Black Widow made it a little worth it.
I was surprised to see Yelena again in the show, but I should have expected it given the dynamic Hawkeye had with the Black Widow. Her motivation to chase and kill Clint also makes sense as according to her he is responsible for Natasha's death. This blend between the movies and series goes to show the plan Marvel has for phase 4 for the integrated and much more fleshed out MCU.
In the series, her dynamic with Kate Bishop lays the foundation for a long standing friendship. I enjoyed their every interaction, looking forward to them sharing the screen together.
The Christmas Spirit
Does Marvel finally have a Christmas series? It sure does seem so. Being set around that time sure does make the spirit of the season and sets the tone of the entire series. Although dealing with some gritty and dark issues, the season does seem to add some lightheartedness to the overall tone. This and the rapport between the characters makes it an all the more wholesome series. It did help me get into the Christmas spirit.
I really love the short format series that Marvel is following. It doesn't drag the story too much and yet gives you enough to chomp on. I would recommend to watch Hawkeye, at least in place of a few of your regular Christmas movies, as it does have some good moments. Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), Black Widow (Florence Pugh), Echo (Alaqua Cox) and Kingpin (Vincent D'Onofrio) make the series worth a watch.
I hope this trend continues with the upcoming series and we get a holistic Phase 4. Check out the series and let me know your thoughts below.
Originally published on December 30th, 2023. Catching up to that backlog (god knows why) and get it all out there.