Based on the popular Marvel comics series and characters, "Hawkeye" centers around original Avenger Clint "Hawkeye" Barton and young, elite, skilled fighter and archer Kate Bishop. During the holidays, their paths unexpectedly cross, putting them together to help each other while taking on villains such as the Tracksuit Mafia.
Spoiler Level: Moderate
I cannot tell you how much I’ve been looking forward to watching the new MCU Disney+ series, Hawkeye. As someone who loves Christmas, the MCU, the Fraction/Aja run of “Hawkeye,” and as a person with hearing loss/hard of hearing, it almost feels like this has been tailored to me personally (cheesy, right?). After watching the first two episodes, I am definitely in love with this series but am still confused at parts.
Before we dive in though, keep this in mind: I am someone that has not been bothered much when the MCU has taken liberties with the source material. For me, the MCU is like another comic book universe. Yes, it’s going to have characters from the main Earth-616 universe, but we cannot expect the MCU to be Earth-616 (in fact, if you didn’t know this, the MCU is considered Earth-199999). So if you are a fan of Hawkeye, whether it be the characters Clint Barton/Kate Bishop or the Fraction/Aja run, just keep in mind that there is a lot of influences from the source material, but they did make some changes (necessary and understandable) that may derail from what you are familiar with. Again, I love the run (read it for the fourth time this week before watching the show) and I still love both of them for what they are. (And if it’s any comfort, Matt Fraction is listed as a consulting producer for the show).
Episode 1 hits all of the emotions. We see how Kate is inspired at a young age by Clint Barton (which this storyline is inspired by the “All-New Hawkeye” series) and we see that she does grow up to be a fighter yet another spoiled rich brat for whom apparently consequences do not apply. This is demonstrated when she destroys the historic college clock tower and instead of getting arrested, she is let go with the understanding that her very wealthy mother, Eleanor Bishop of Bishop Securities, will raise money to replace it. Hopefully, this will turn into a potential character development moment for Kate; otherwise, this is just stating the obvious reality and will be a major disappointment if the series doesn’t somehow do something drastic with this lived reality about Kate’s character.
Switching focus to Clint, we see him and his children watching the very anticipated “Rogers: The Musical”, which we find through Clint’s eyes is very cheesy, inaccurate, and making light of a serious, life-and-death event. We also see through this scene that he’s struggling with survivor’s guilt, particularly with Nat’s death. From this and other scenes in episodes 1 and 2, we can also see that one of the themes for the show will focus on how being a superhero can be glorified for outsiders but for those who are superheroes, it’s not seen the same way. Later, Clint sees the news that shows video footage of someone wearing his infamous vigilante “Ronin” costume that’s connected to an explosion (which we know from the trailers, Kate Bishop is the person wearing the suit). Through a series of scenes throughout the episode, we find out that Clint as Ronin has made some enemies that are still around, and that no one outside of the Avengers knew that Clint Barton was Ronin. We also find that Ronin had some sort of relationship with the Tracksuit Mafia (albeit what kind of relationship remains to be unseen). So we know that the series is going to bring in an opportunity for Clint to try to make amends and atonement, and potential backlash if the world finds out that Clint was Ronin.
Although Episode 2 is a great episode as well, I feel that trying to give a synopsis on it could potentially bring spoiler alerts for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, so instead let’s dive into the positives and the negatives of these two episodes.
First, as I mentioned, there are a LOT of callbacks and inspiration from the Fraction/Aja run. We get Lucky the Pizza Dog (and yes, we see him eat pizza ALL the time), the Tracksuit Mafia and their constant use of “bro” (my wife would have said “annoyingly overused”, which I responded with “Bro!”), Kazi and The Swordsman, potential references to setting up Kate as a P.I., and we even see Detective Caudle and Grills in the series (but again, these characters and their stories have been adapted for the MCU and will not be exactly who we see in the Fraction/Aja series). We get the famous apartment/loft from the comics (albeit it belongs to Kate and not Clint). And my personal favorite: Clint’s hearing loss. We see Barton with a hearing aid, his youngest son using ASL to communicate with him (although at this point it is still a little unclear why they’ve learned this, so hopefully they’ll give more backstory on this), and a hilarious (even ridiculous) montage explainer on how he lost his hearing. (One last thing – again, as someone with hearing loss, I’m not only excited about this representation but that we will also have Echo in the series, who is also a deaf character.)
Still, there are a few aspects that are still unclear that need to be addressed or I simply missed the first time watching. First of all, thanks to a colleague at Comic Watch, I do want to share that if you are a fan of Kate Bishop from the Young Avengers, do know that in these first two episodes, she is fangirling over Clint Barton, and this can be disappointing. It seems that they are quickly going to chisel away from Kate being a fangirl by the end of the series with the number of disappointing experiences she is having with him already, but that doesn’t change the fact that some fans may still be disappointed in this. So be prepared for that in the first two episodes.
One editing issue I had is that we saw Lucky as a really dirty dog from being on the street, then immediately after when Kate and Clint go to the store, he’s all of a sudden clean. They could have addressed this easily, but it was either left on the cutting room floor or no one in editing noticed.
There’s one scene that has left me either baffled or disappointed, so this will remain to be seen. We see the Tracksuit Mafia pick up Clint Barton politely (as in hitting him with a baseball bat and putting a bag over his head) and throw him in the van. One of the “bros” mentions that “she” (assuming Echo, the boss) wants him alive. But then when we get to the next scene where Clint is tied to a chair, asking for their boss, he looks at someone and says, “Is he your boss?” This left me confused because clearly, Clint should have overheard them saying “She wants him alive” so this could be another continuity mistake. This could also be explained by the fact that Clint may have had his hearing aid disrupted or fallen out, but if that’s the case they haven’t explained it yet. As a viewer and someone with hearing loss, I do hope that if this is the case, the show does a better job of showing this visually (in a similar fashion that the Fraction/Aja run includes). If they don’t, this would have been a HUGE missed opportunity.
"Hawkeye" is already showing itself to be one of the hottest shows to come from Marvel Studios. With a great cast, production team, and stories to keep all of us immersed in the MCU, this show is a must-see for all Marvel fans, comics and MCU alike.
Hawkeye: Right On Target
Writing - 8/108/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Acting - 9/109/10
Music - 10/1010/10
Production - 10/1010/10
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