While most of Marvel Studios’ recent affairs have been grand in scale, Hawkeye came out of the left-field with a more grounded and small-scale story—and it knocked it out of the park. There is no Multiverse to worry about or otherworldly mystical dimensions, just Clint trying to clean up his mess in time to get back to his family for the holidays. This mess is caused by none other than Kate Bishop, played by newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, whose expert archer immediately felt at home in the MCU.
But did the show hit the mark? Or is Clint’s Christmas adventure just another mediocre mark on Marvel’s Disney+?
Clint Barton & His Journey Through Grief
Clint Barton has been around in the MCU for a decade now. Ten years later, fans are finally getting a solo project for the beloved archer. Not only that but one that significantly adds to the character, helping fans genuinely understand and connect with him in new and exciting ways.
Part of Hawkeye’s journey in this show was dealing with his violent history during The Blip as Ronin, something which easily could have been breezed over. Thankfully, that’s not the direction his story took.
That trauma helped deepen the hero, who fans have known for so long, but with Hawkeye’s help, it feels like the friend is now family.
His time as Ronin wasn’t the only thing Barton was trying to atone for; there was also the matter of Natasha Romanoff’s sacrifice and how he felt unworthy of such a choice.
The show did a perfect job at exploring not only his deep connection to Natasha but also the grief that he has been hopelessly navigating. Hopefully, his ability to let another partner into his life and make amends with someone just as deep in grief will help him keep afloat.
When it came to remembering Black Widow, the show picked the perfect musical cues for the moments to land—and there are several examples of this, one of them being the call back to Vormir as Clint is telling Kate.
This exploration of grief over Natasha’s sacrifice not only made the characters on-screen richer, but it made the show into a perfect epilogue for Scarlett Johansson’s famous Avenger.
Clint's branding issue proved to be a fun through-joke that smoothly played into the theme of his worthiness of being a role model; this all perfectly paid off with him embracing his new duds in the Rockefeller Center.
Then, there was Clint's family, which got their most screentime ever. While it was fun to see how the Avenger is with his kids, his wife, Laura, made the most significant impact. The subtly-played dynamic between Laura and Clint got the chance to shine in Hawkeye’s solo outing than ever before. The two of them are undoubtedly one of the purest couples in the MCU—sorry, Peter and MJ.
The idea of Clint being willing to do anything for his family isn’t new; it was his key motivation behind his return in Endgame. This time around, the Avenger got to save a Rolex to protect his wife, someone who may or may not be Mockingbird from Marvel Comics—a twist that could lead to some great storylines in the future.
There was someone else, however, who got an invite to the Barton family: Kate Bishop.
Kate Bishop, the Newly Minted Hawk
Hailee Steinfeld did an incredible job bringing Kate Bishop to life and immediately provided an engaging performance as a new MCU mainstay.
Having her be a big fan of Hawkeye was initially questioned by some fans, but in the end, it worked out well. It gave Kate an excellent foundation for why she is who she is—and it’s all thanks to seeing a regular human fight aliens with a stick and string.
Even better is how perfectly that played into the recurring themes of Clint not feeling like he’s worthy of being a role model; yet who was once considered the most useless Avenger by many has now been shaped into the linchpin of a new Marvel legend.
That opening scene of the season was the perfect way to introduce Kate to not only the show but the world. It told audiences much about how the character ticks in such a short span of time.
As a new Marvel superhero, Kate also has to have a suit—which she already nailed while on the archery team. So it’s a great touch to take that steadfastness and use it to develop new suits for both Hawkeye and herself. After all, partners have to match.
The Hawkeyes Double Up
While the two archers are great on their own, the partnership that was born is what drove everything forward.
The dynamic between the duo was flawless. Barton’s matter-of-fact attitude and dry humor paired with Kate’s bubbly personality and inquisitiveness made for fantastic entertainment every time they shared time on the screen.
While Clint wants out of the game, Kate wants in more than anything, especially after meeting her hero. This stark difference helps build both characters toward betterment in a satisfyingly organic way. They’re perfect for each other—even if just one of them knows it, if only partially.
There were plenty of little moments that made it all the better, such as Kate transcribing Clint’s son’s words over the phone or her bringing Christmas to him—these were fantastic scenes that helped strengthen their foundation.
Yelena's Vengeance Takes Aim
Fans knew Florence Pugh's Yelena Belova was going to show up ever since the post-credits sequence of Black Widow, where Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Val assigned her to kill Clint Barton himself. It was a point that fans were excited to happen, and while it didn't occur until the fifth entry, it was certainly worth the wait.
The biggest question on everyone’s mind was if Yelena survived the Snap, a question immediately answered after her rooftop brawl. It was a heartbreaking scene, one that also gave some context as to why Yelena is doing mercenary work.
The heart of her story still belonged to Nat, whose death, in her mind, was entirely Clint’s fault. The two didn’t cross paths again until the finale of Hawkeye, but when they did, it provided some great closure—and may have started one of the more complicated MCU dynamics in the future.
Dynamics with Yelena seem to always work out, though, as the show introduced a team-up that fans immediately started to rave about: the new Black Widow and Kate Bishop.
Her first scene with Kate in the burnt-out apartment was a blast; the two riff off each other perfectly and are phenomenal together. This excellence was increased tenfold with their time in the finale.
If Marvel Studios is reading this, know that they need to meet again sooner rather than later.
When it comes to Yelena’s future, the first question which comes to mind is how will her employer react to the failed contract? It seems like a good plot thread to start the next time Pugh graces the MCU.
The Bishop Extended Family
Tony Dalton gave a fantastic and fun performance as Jack Duquesne. At first, it seemed that the show would go the obvious route of him being a bad guy, but then the finale flipped everything around; he’s just an odd rich guy obsessed with fencing.
It was a great play-off of expectations, one that twisted the knife in Kate as she realized the total weight of her mother’s crimes.
There are certainly plenty of fans that are bound to be disappointed to see the character not associated with Barton’s origin at all, like his comic counterpart. When it comes to Hawkeye, however, his place in the story still worked.
After all, there are plenty of signs that there’s still far more to Jack than meets the eye—maybe future stories can shed some light on them.
With Jack came Kate’s mother, Eleanor Bishop, played by Vera Farmiga. Many guessed she was the secret criminal of the series, and they were right, though it certainly wasn’t a risky gamble.
The twist's effect primarily resides in Kate Bishop’s story and never really serviced Eleanor’s character.
Audiences could have used some more time to connect with Eleanor's struggles. She seems to have good intentions and could have genuinely been placed in a horrible corner after her late husband's death—but clearly, she was still misguided. Viewers, however, were hardly able to experience any of that themselves.
The Lovable & Idiotic Tracksuits
The Tracksuit Mafia was all it needed to be: a fun group of disposable goons. The group provided plenty of laughs, and the dynamics between the core players in the organization were solid.
One of those higher-ups was Fra Free’s Kazi, whose character is starkly different from his comic counterpart. Is that bad? Not necessarily, but at the same time, the show’s attempt to give him depth didn’t ultimately land.
That depth was two-fold: his secret relationship with Maya and his (forced?) devotion to Kingpin. Both ended up being more surface level, and Kazi never really rose higher than any of the goons he led.
An Echo of Revenge
One of the most notable additions to the MCU featured in Hawkeye is Alaqua Cox’s, Maya Lopez. The deaf hero started her journey as an antagonist, looking to avenge her fallen dad who was killed by none other than the Ronin
Her introduction in Episode 3 was fantastic and set the floor for her character. Echo’s presence is intimidating, and her motives are immediately relatable. Maya also served as a perfect mirror for Clint, mainly for their hearing disabilities.
The problem is that after Episode 3, the focus on the character lessened dramatically. Maya became a background character, never really getting the time she needs to shine.
This is particularly notable for Echo’s relationship with her Uncle. The dynamic had absolutely no time to breathe, and audiences never really got to know how the two of them tick.
Yes, this is Hawkeye's show, so theoretically, it shouldn’t be a problem. But the finale makes it one with that final cliffhanger scene where she shoots Kingpin.
The entire last moment with Fisk barely had a fraction of the impact it should’ve had. It’s something that should have been at the end of her own Disney+ show when audiences have a better grasp and connection to their story.
Given all of that, it could be argued how Marvel hasn't done the best job at building excitement for how upcoming series. Hopefully, that anticipation is able to intensify as it gets closer to production.
The Fat Man Returns
Well, now he’s back, and the big man’s gained some mass—and strength. He also happens to be targeting an Avenger this time around.
While there’s no face-to-face between Hawkeye and Fisk, the Kingpin does go up against his partner. The scene was a great way to introduce his newfound durability and strength, successfully showing that not only is he a master behind the scenes but also fully capable in a fight.
As exciting as it is to have him back, there’s no question about it: he needed more time. A quick introduction in an already busy finale was not enough to effectively set Fisk up in the way the show needed.
He was rushed in, and it felt that way; provided one gets past the initial excitement of seeing D’Onofrio back in his white suit. It's something that'll likely be smoothed over in the future, but it’s a shame he couldn't have gotten screen time a few episodes earlier.
The Hawkeyes Hit Their Mark
Hawkeye’s was a fantastic way to dive deeper into Clint Barton’s character while introducing Kate Bishop into the MCU. Hailee Steinfeld is the perfect actress to bring her to life, and her dynamic with Jeremy Renner’s Avenger is yet another stellar Marvel match-up.
More than all of that, it’s simply fun; universe-ending stakes are great, but this show felt like the perfect refresher.
It’s not perfect, though, in all actuality; Kingpin should have been introduced earlier, and both Kazi and Echo deserved more time to breathe. The LARPing scenes, and their crew, didn’t always land their comedic bits and often outstayed their welcome.
But that doesn’t keep it from being another quality Marvel Studios project and easily the most consistent series to come from it yet.
What will come next for the two archers? Will their stories remain connected, or will Kate be on her own the next time audiences see her? If that’s the case, it’s safe to say fans will be clamoring for Florence Pugh’s Yelena to get involved.
There’s plenty of fuel for the fire of Hawkeye’s story to continue. The series seemingly confirms that Kingpin is funding Val’s operation, Laura Barton may be Mockingbird, and Kate’s superhero journey must go on.
While no season two has been announced yet, with the show's reception, it wouldn’t be surprising if an announcement was made within the coming months.
Until then, fans will have to relive Hawkeye in all of its glory, which is streaming in its entirety exclusively on Disney+.