First introduced in Kenneth Branagh’s 2011 Thor, Jeremy Renner’s sharp shooting archer finally gets his own spinoff series in Hawkeye, marking the end chapter for the original Avenger’s own standalone stories. The fourth live-action Disney+ series based in the MCU is set to pick up threads first established in Avengers: Endgame and Black Widow, along with introducing a brand new set of characters for spinoff series Echo, which is also officially in the works.
Directed by Rhys Thomas and Bert & Bertie, Hawkeye centres on Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) in a post-blip New York City. Still grappling with the loss of Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), the former Avenger just wants to have a quiet Christmas spending time with his family. However, a mysterious presence from Barton’s past threatens to derail his plans, as he’s forced to team up with 22-year-old archer Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) to try and bring it down.
Drawing influence from writer Matt Fraction and David Aja’s beloved run on the comic books with key characters, settings and humour, the first two episodes are a whole lot of fun. The breezy pace flies by as fan favourites are established in a brand new adventure with surprisingly low-stakes and a grounded feel. It’s still early days, but it’s a breath of fresh for a marvel series to not carry a distinct weight/setup for the larger franchise or tackle any big concepts with huge ramifications, and is simply allowed to be just a fun action show.
The opening scene cleverly connects a young Kate Bishop to Clint as he battles recognisable foes in New York, inspiring her to also take up the bow. This early ambition clearly pays off, as Steinfield’s introduction as an older Bishop makes for an entertaining set piece as she shows off her talents. The Bumblebee star instantly feels like a natural in the role, bringing bags of charisma and enthusiasm to Bishop, along with great physicality in the hand-to-hand combat sequences – quickly immersing herself in the action scenes.There is quite a bit of setup to get through as both Clint and Kate’s family dynamics and situations are introduced – Clint is still coming to terms with the loss of Natasha, but looking forward to spending Christmas with his family, while Kate is desperate to prove herself.
However, things truly click into place when the characters are brought together, riffing off each other for an amusingly begrudging mentor/mentee relationship. As the two begin to partner up, it’s clear to see both Renner and Steinfeld having a blast in the roles, in an entertaining Spider-Man-esque setup – running around New York city fighting the tracksuit mafia goons, the duo attempt to retrieve a certain item. Support comes from a brilliantly murky Vera Farmiga as Eleanor Bishop and the moustache twirling Tony Dalton as Jack Duquesne, while Lucky the pizza dog is the one of the most adorable additions to the MCU.
There’s quite a bit of action and scrappy hand-to-hand combat reminiscent of the Netflix shows to enjoy throughout the episodes, particularly with the introduction of the amusing “bro”-ey tracksuit mafia. Steinfield’s Bishop really does immerse herself in the action, while Renner’s Barton is a trusty and experienced hand throughout the combat scenarios. The hilarious sequence from Rogers: The Musical is also an entertaining new addition to the MCU and will undoubtedly prove a highlight for some. However, it’s the Shane Black-esque festive setting, which evokes an intriguing Die Hard come Home Alone vibe, which makes for a really fun backdrop.
Festive, fun and featuring an entertaining dynamic between Renner and Steinfeld – there’s certainly a lot to enjoy from the first two episodes of Hawkeye. As a big fan of the Matt Fraction & David Aja run, it’s fantastic to see Lucky the Pizza Dog as the best doggo in the MCU, while Hailee Steinfeld is pitch perfect as Kate Bishop. With the exciting closing moments of the second episode, I’m very much looking forward to seeing more.
Episode 1 & 2 of Hawkeye launch on Disney+ Wednesday 24 November 2021.