HAWKEYE is a great Marvel Christmas caper with plenty of heart

Marvel has gotten to the point where they release more projects a year than a person could count on both hands. It would be easy for their projects to slip into redundancy, but the constant reliance on human emotions and storylines has made each project unique and interesting. HAWKEYE, the newest Disney Plus superhero show, is a fantastic example of how good characters and care for the material can turn a possibly boring and overdone show into a fantastic watch for all ages. This show never treads unfamiliar ground, but the way it expands on the emotions of the characters we already know while introducing intriguing new characters is all anyone could ask for from a Hawkeye series. Sprinkle in some good cameos and fan service, and you have a fun, fast-paced Marvel project  that serves as a perfect viewing for the holiday season.

Even though the show is titled HAWKEYE, and is advertised as the long-awaited solo offering for Jeremy Renner’s bow-and-arrow wielding Avenger, the beginning of the show centers around Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop instead. In fact, the majority of the six episode season centers around Bishop and her wishes to become a hero similar to Hawkeye, making this just as much her show as it is Renner’s. The beginning of the season, where the two main characters are being introduced and the exposition is at full throttle, is the weakest stretch of the show. Some of the dialogue feels unnatural and not as smooth or well-written as other Marvel shows in the past. However, once the narrative sets itself up by the end of the first episode, the writing gets far better and the show becomes thrilling and engaging.

Steinfeld and Renner are an amazing team, and throughout the series they have a fantastic comedic chemistry which creates the most consistently funny MCU project all year. The jokes  land in this show and do not rely on pop culture references, which, therefore, will cause them to have comedic value beyond six months. The two also have a dramatic connection that makes their characters interesting as emotional foils to each other. Bishop grew up rich, chose to practice archery so she could learn to save the city like Hawkeye, and must grapple with the criminal activity that may be occuring in her family behind her back. Clint Barton/Hawkeye is attempting to move on from his troubling past by taking care of his family, but keeps getting dragged back. The criminal world is not finished with him due to the past damage he caused to gang members’ families. This unlikely relationship is the centerpiece of the show and is one of the reasons that the whole narrative works as well as it does.

By the end, the audience receives a better sense of what truly makes Hawkeye tick than anything viewers received in the previous projects he is featured in, making this story one worth telling. As usual with the MCU, the action is fantastic throughout the show, with one car chase scene in the third episode containing an impressive sequence in which the director pulls off a shot that is a clear ode to Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men. It is also refreshing that the final fight scene is not an overstuffed CGI mess like many superhero movies these days, and instead relies on great stunt-work to create the most thrilling sequences. The show doesn’t waste much time either — instead of including multiple filler episodes that drag the pacing down it makes the most of its six episode length to fully expand each character. HAWKEYE manages to avoid much of the pitfalls of recent superhero shows and movies while using the superhero clichés it contains to create the maximum possible result.

HAWKEYE is not a show that will stick in fans’ minds as much as projects like Spider-Man: No Way Home, but for a show that highlights possibly the least interesting Avenger, it does a hell of a job keeping viewers invested. I watched almost the entire show in one night because each episode pulled me in to the extent that I had to watch the next one every time the previous episode ended. Most people who begin this season will have the same experience, which is a testament to the solid writing and storytelling the show has on display. HAWKEYE is a show that could have easily been phoned in so the streaming numbers could generate an easy profit, but the creators and directors clearly put time and effort into producing a story that viewers would care about and be invested in. Perhaps that is a low bar to hold a show to, but HAWKEYE achieves these goals so well that I think the show is another Marvel production worth commending.

B+

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