Hailee Steinfeld hits a bullseye as Kate Bishop, the MCU’s latest bad-ass heroine. Hawkeye introduces her as Clint Barton’s (Jeremy Renner) eager protégé. The six episode limited series takes place during a bustling New York City Christmas two years after the events of Avengers: Endgame. Hawkeye has a decidedly personable and whimsical feel. It’s action-packed with a younger, hipper and more upbeat outlook on superhero adventures; which is a welcome breath of fresh air to the heavier themes of Marvel’s Disney+ predecessors.
The series premiere, “Never Meet Your Heroes”, opens in 2012 Manhattan during the Chitauri invasion of Earth. Young Kate Bishop (Clara Stack) hides in horror as the alien attack destroys her parent’s posh duplex. She watches a nearby rooftop in awe as Clint Barton fights the Chitauri with his bow and arrows. She begs her mother (Vera Farmiga) to learn archery. Nine years later, the twenty-two year old Kate (Hailee Steinfeld), is a champion archer, martial artist, gymnast, and fencer. She’s forced from college after a particularly brazen stunt.
Meanwhile, Clint Barton is in New York City spending quality time with his three children. He takes them to “Rogers: The Musical”, a boot-stomping song and dance show about the Avengers defeat of the Chitauri. Clint can’t handle seeing the stage portrayal of Black Widow. He takes his children back to their hotel, but is stunned by a shocking news story. A persona he’d long thought buried has been resurrected in a very public way.
Episode two, “Hide and Seek”, has Clint Barton getting Kate Bishop out of an extremely dangerous situation. She’s absolutely floored to meet her idol. Clint warns that her actions have made her the target of a ruthless, tracksuit-wearing gang. He needs to clean up her mess and get back to his family by Christmas Day. The situation becomes more complicated when Kate reveals why she got into trouble. Her mother’s shady new fiancé (Tony Dalton) may be a murderer with connections to the criminal underworld.
Clint Barton is a lethal fighter whose skills with a bow are unmatched. But he’s also a dedicated father and husband. This secondary character arc established in Avengers: Age of Ultron becomes the driving force of Hawkeye. Clint did not train his daughter (Ava Russo) to follow in his footsteps. Kate Bishop, who forged herself in his image, represents another daughter that needs his help. Their initial scenes together are fantastic. Kate wants to know everything he can teach her. Clint properly dresses her wounds so they don’t become infected. This unexpected guidance and warmth fills a void in Kate’s life. A strong foundation for their relationship as mentor and student has been realistically built.
Hawkeye surprises with several laugh-out-loud moments. Clint is forced to deal with a few goofy entanglements. His reaction to the absurd “Rogers: The Musical” is hysterical. Episode two has an equally humorous scene that had me in stitches. Kate Bishop contributes to the giggles with snappy retorts and deadpan sarcasm; especially to her sketchy, wannabe stepfather. I don’t know if tragedy looms or the series gets darker, but the lighthearted tone works brilliantly.
Hawkeye does a great job introducing the new characters and expected primary objective for the show. Clint is a dad who just wants to get home to his family for Christmas. We’re already at the halfway point with the third episode upcoming. Major plot details and twists should be happening in short order. Hawkeye is off to a strong start. I can’t wait to see how Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) factors into the equation. In the Black Widow post-credits scene, she was ordered to kill Clint Barton by Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). Are the producers leading to a Kate Bishop versus Yelena Belova showdown? That would be spectacular. Hawkeye is a production of Marvel Studios. New episodes are released every Wednesday until December 22nd exclusively on Disney+.