Does Hawkeye Hit Its Target?

I take back what I said about The Falcon & The Winter Soldier: Hawkeye is the Disney+ Marvel show I was least excited for. I plum forgot it was coming out. Aim for Hawkeye SPOILERS below! You should’ve seen Endgame & Black Widow already too! I go on mini-tangents about those. (Spider-Man: No Way Home tangentially references this series & vice versa, but it’s not required viewing first. My favorite scene was when the cast of Inhumans appeared.)

Hawkeye_Thanosmug

This mug is a hate crime.

Hawkeye is the first MCU Disney+ series of which I didn’t wake up early to stream the premiere. This one feels most like a Netflix show. It’s got lower stakes, more realistic violence, Daredevil connections, awkward supeheroes on a subway, & good use of red lighting. In addition to that, it has a much healthier sense of humor. Jonathan Igla is the showrunner. Half the episodes were directed by Rhys Thomas while the rest were directed by the confusingly named Bert & Bertie duo. The David Aja inspired animated end credits are keen.

Comics Hawkeye is a fan favorite Avenger because of his wisecracking anti-authoritarian streak. The MCU gave that wisecracking anti-authoritarian streak to Iron Man. While everybody else got quippy, Clint Barton didn’t. So live action Hawkeye was bungled similarly to live action Green Arrow. He didn’t even get to be cocky about his insane archery skill. Getting a secret farm family was intended to make him unique yet relatable but just made him more dull. While his castmates were able to imbue underwritten roles with charisma (that paid off in WandaVision), Jeremy Renner didn’t bring anything extra to the screenplays. Agents Of SHIELD’s Lance Hunter was a more faithful adaptation of Hawkeye’s personality, especially his relationship with Mockingbird. This series is largely inspired by Matt Fraction’s & David Aja’s Hawkeye series that portrayed Clint Barton as struggling everyman.

Much like Falcon’s Captain America’s wings, how did Hawkeye control his rotating quiver? Or did he just take whichever random arrow it gave him? It’s not in the show, so we’ll never know.

Kate Bishop has Thea Queen vibes. She’s correct that an unexpected surprise is redundant. Kate is played by Hailee Steinfeld, who previously voiced Spider-Gwen. She’s another key member of the Young Avengers that the MCU is accumulating. (Will albino Vision serve the same function on the team that Red Tornado did for Young Justice?) Kate’s texts are savage. She’s a boomerang arrow enthusiast! Give Kate a catchphrase, cowards!

She was already fully fledged as Hawkeye II by the time she met the original in the comics, but here he’s a crucial part of her origin. That reduces Kate’s agency while removing the implied sexual assault that inspired her. (While sexual assault is unfortunately too common in real life, it feels exploitative for it to motivate so many superheroines when women generally aren’t behind those stories. Even if it’s meant to be inspirational to real life survivors, you practically never see male superheroes being raped in their origins.)

While Kate proudly wears purple before her finale costume upgrade, even her civilian wardrobe looks great. She’s very fashionable without seeming like she has a full stylist team. (There definitely is one working on the series though. Sagittarius Steinfeld’s purple premiere look proves she understood the assignment.) Even the autumnal ensemble she borrows from her problematic actress aunt looks chic.

They’ve flipped which of her parents died from the comics. Kate objecting to her publisher dad marrying Swordsman might’ve seemed homophobic. Eleanor Bishop running a security firm reminds me of Jacob Kane’s Crows. I just want Eleanor & Jacques Jack Duquense to be happy together! Tony Dalton is just so damn charming. I’m so disappointed he doesn’t wear the Swordsman costume. Swordsman would explain where Clint picked up his Ronin skills, yet this their first meeting in the MCU. In the comics he was replaced by a plant alien after his death & made a messiah baby with GOTG’s Mantis.

Much like Kyle Rayner & Ryan Wilder, Clint’s Ronin suit falls into Kate’s lap. It, his sword, & a mysterious Rolex were being sold at a black market auction. Why didn’t the Avengers do a more thorough clean up job of their base after dusting Thanos? If not them, shouldn’t they be safely locked away in a SHIELD or Damage Control vault? Vulture was arrested Pre-Snappening, so who boosted these items? If the Ronin sword blade retracts into its handle for portability like Taskmaster’s, why did Clint carry it with a full scabbard?

Pizza Dog has two eyes? Now that Lucky is cast, the Pet Avengers are starting to shape up. They’ll be the team that defeats the eventual Thunderbolts! How would Morris wear pants?

Hawkeye still refuses to wear his purple & blue Ren Faire Wolverine costume because he’s boring AF. The cringey LARP scene would’ve been a perfect opportunity. Oh, they did have a LARPer in a cool classic Hawkeye costume but cut him so he wouldn’t upstage everyone. That bit further showed Clint is grump. Him being a curmudgeon would’ve been much more endearing if he’d been a compelling character beforehand. Juxtaposing Clint with Kate is like like putting Henry Cavill’s & Tyler Hoechlin’s Supermen together.

Echo was genderflipped Taskmaster before Black Widow genderflipped Taskmaster, but the show doesn’t focus much on her photographic reflexes or penchant for performance art. Ronin killed her loving dad, (Zahn McClarnon improves everything so matter how small the role.) so she wants revenge when the suit resurfaces. The tiniest Kingpin cameo possible made Daredevil fans cry “Uncle!” Unlike the comics, this Echo doesn’t speak aloud & has a prosthetic lower leg like her actress. How Alaqua Cox got cast as Echo is as impressive as Meng’er Zhang’s origin as Xialing. The casting for the younger Kate & Maya is on point as usual.

Brian Michael Bendis killed Maya Lopez twice. Why’d he hate his pal David Mack’s creation so much? Elektra’s sai is penetrating the Ronin tunic, chest armor, undershirt, Echo’s torso, & out the other side. That is one spectacularly unprotective outfit! Plus Elektra’s arm would be elbow-deep in gore pushing it through. She got resurrected by The Hand right away, but that doesn’t excuse him fridging Maya later in Moon Knight.

Clint is finally hearing impaired from years of workplace injuries. Echo was born deaf. Makkari doesn’t have to carry all the deaf representation on her back. She’s inspiring more people to learn ASL, & Echo will probably continue the trend.

This time the villains don’t have absurdly monstrous methods of fomenting laudable social change. The Tracksuit Draculas Mafia are morons that are still real threats, bro! They’re holed up in an enormous former KB Toys. Not only did those not take up entire buildings, it would’ve been completely stripped of all inventory & converted to other usage by now. Sorry, this is where the MCU irreparably diverges from our reality. The car chase where Clint turns Kate’s normal arrow into a humongous one by hitting it with a Pym Particles arrow was great. Clint catching & tossing back the Molotov cocktail is cool too!

Kazi doesn’t wear mime make-up. Marvel has a few evil Clowns that are part of The Circus Of Crime (Aren’t they all?), but this one has to be unrelated. I actually don’t care that he’s not trying to be Joker-Bullseye mash-up. It’s unclear if he’s supposed to be Maya’s lover or surrogate brother.

Black Widow felt like a rehash of The Winter Soldier in many regards. Making Taskmaster a brainwashed mute like Bucky was one of the ways that upset comics readers most. It seems like it would’ve been simple to have Taskmaster be Antonia Dreykov without sacrificing the personality of Tony Masters. Antonia could be voluntarily working for the Red Room as a way to earn her father’s validation, much like Ruby Hale in Agents Of SHIELD. Or they could’ve done what the trailer voiceovers implied & had Antonia personally in control of the Red Room. That would’ve given her more opportunities for dialogue & show an abuse cycle continuing after the primary abuser is dead. It’d be more intriguing yet less topical than Ray Winstone’s Harvey Weinsein impression. She definitely had a motive to hate Natasha without mind control drugs. Now that she’s free, Antonia can become the swaggering mercenary Taskfans wanted.

Following up on the BW stinger, Yelena Belova also wants revenge on Barton. She’s like a manic pixie dream girl unachored by a love interest. Florence Pugh’s Instagram was blocked for posting set pics the day the fourth episode aired. In future appearances as the MCU’s new Black Widow, Yelena Belova should show off her six pack abs & gain Super-Adaptoid powers. Why no Halloween costume for her?

Clint is still consumed with grief over Natasha’s death. He also broods over SHIELD honing him into a weapon to dispatch its enemies. Despite all that guilt, he’s covering up his Ronin phase rather than turning himself in to the authorities to face the ramifications of his international vigilante murder spree. Not wanting to be separated further from his family is very understandable, but him not taking accountability doesn’t feel noble. Even when he admits his extra alter ego to Echo while imitating Batman, it comes with a threat instead of an apology.

His Ronin phase opens a giant can of ethical worms. In story, all of Ronin’s victims are presented as criminals the audience isn’t meant to sympathize with. Endorsing executions without due process, however, isn’t ideal for society. Which brings up how various MCU superheroes have murdered nameless mooks without remorse or repercussions. Does this universe have a legal precedent where superheroes can kill with impunity since it’s shrugged off so often? A distressingly overwhelming amount of people’s favorite movie is this series is Civil War, wherein the moral is that superheroes on both sides of the registration debate don’t have to be accountable for their actions. That stance only works if superheroes are infallible, with the worst case scenario being The Boys. So I don’t know how to wrap my head around this moral gray zone. It feels like the MCU continues to gesture at real world implications of superheroics without thoroughly delving into them. There are plenty of times I’ve thought heroes killing villains was justified, but “it’s okay for the protagonist to kill because they’re the protagonist” isn’t a satisfying argument.

The penultimate episode weirdly places the Yelena flashback prologue before the “previously on.” Yelena discovers Kate’s mom hired her to kill Clint. Didn’t Val personally enlist her to do so? Is she being paid twice? That’s what happens when Black Widow’s & Hawkeye’s writers weren’t kept on the same page about setting up Yelena’s involvement. It’s been suggested that the mysterious Val was just the proxy to hire Yelena for Eleanor, but making her the middlewoman for mobsters seems beneath her. Having both Black Widow II & Echo as vengeful antagonists in the same series feels redundant, though Maya has the better claim.

When Clint was in his serial killer phase, why didn’t he just murder Kingpin? It seems he wasn’t Snapped since he told Kazi to set up Echo’s dad. If he’s so concerned about protecting his family & ending this Ronin fiasco, now would also be good time to make a Wilson Fisk pincushion. When you’re a spec ops assassin with enhanced weaponry who’s taken down aliens & robots, killing one regular guy shouldn’t be that hard. It’s pretty suspicious that Ronin could slaughter numerous Japanese & Mexican criminals plus at least one First Nations, yet this caucasian crimester has impenetrable plot armor. (I write all this as someone who really appreciates Vincent D’onfrio’s return.)

Unlike the comics, there in neither a silent episode nor one from Pizza Dog’s perspective. The end of the penultimate episode had me worried there was too much to resolve in one episode. I was surprised, however, that the finale dropped its ball the least of the Disney+ series. Some of the narratives could’ve benefited from an extra episode or two, but the quick pacing was preferable to a Netflix slog.

Clint’s new LARPer-made costume is a slight improvement over his lazy black t-shirt with purple chevron. Now it looks like he’s wearing black overalls atop a purple shirt. He wears it for one whole sequence! They could’ve just reverted to his stylish Age Of Ultron coat.

Kate’s costume often has circular cut-outs, but I’m glad they ditched this unpractical fashion feature. Her costume still the circles but without exposing skin. Her MCU suit is definitely recognizable as Kate Bishop’s (It helps that her comics suit was recently redesigned to match even closer.), but I wish they’d just given her his classic Hawkeye outfit if he’s never going to wear it. It’s cooler than all of the suits in this show.  Her makeshit first outfit would’ve been fun to see too even if the costumes it was inspired by don’t exist in the MCU.

Most of the finale is about the two Hawkeyes rescuing Eleanor at her Christmas party after she unwisely severs her business with the Kingpin. Hawkguy & Ladyhawke unleash a torrent of trick arrows against the Tracksuits at Rockefeller Center. If only (Green) Arrow had been as committed to trick arrows! Rocky the owl has a cameo. Jack Duquense cuts loose with his swashbuckling saber skills! Give this man a supersuit & let him mentor the Young Avengers! Either that or draft him to the Thunderbolts! After cathartically bashing Barton with batons, Black Widow II abandons her quest to kill Clint.

YelenaBelova_KateBishop

Gay panic intensifies!

Yelena’s Christmas party disguise was on fleek. I love how she twirl-tore off Kate’s dress to unveil Kate’s costume. (It looks very similar to her earlier archer outfit, so I’m unsure how the LARPers upgraded it besides adding an emblem.) Their subsequent compliment battle was so adorable. I don’t care whether Kate & Yelena become besties or an item; I just want this dynamic duo to interact as much as possible. (Marvel’s not going to make Hawkeye II & Black Widow II a power couple. Sorry, shippers.)

Wilson Fisk finally gets in on the action in his festive inverted poinsettia Hawaiian shirt. Does him being at liberty mean the events of Daredevil season three happened in a divergent timeline or is the MCU prison system just a revolving door? Dropping in such a huge villain in at the end overshadows everyone else. He doesn’t get much context for his reintroduction, so I wonder how viewers that skipped Daredevil will react to him. Meanwhile its fans may be displeased by him foolishly getting his hands dirty & being vanquished in a single episode. (Former Daredevil showrunner Steven S. DeKnight calls out Marvel Comics to finally do something about editor-in-chief C.B. Cebulski capitalizing on cultural identity fraud to hold two concurrent positions against company policy.)

Shrugging off violence that’d fell lesser men, Kingpin is very indomitable for someone without superstrength. His streak ends as Maya shoots him at point blank after killing Kazi. Fret not, Kingpin stans! There’s no body & he survived this in the comics. I’m more worried about how they’ll fill out Echo since they basically wrapped up her arc minus Matt Murdock. I don’t think they’ll do an introspective followup without action guest starring Wolverine. Maybe they can use her to port over more Netflix characters like Bullseye, Typhoid Mary, Colleen Wing, & Misty Knight?

There was a rumor that Eleanor Bishop would be Madame Masque, despite Agent Carter already having cast Doom Patrol’s Wynn Everett as Whitney Frost. This rumor didn’t pan out, although Eleanor is still a baddie in the same vein as Vera Farmiga’s character in Godzilla KOTM. After getting into crime to pay off her late husband’s debt, she had Jack’s uncle killed for the Kingpin. Framing her fiancee fails, & her ungrateful daughter hands her over to the cops.

When Clint returns the Rolex inscribed “SHIELD #19” (Why were the Tracksuits hired to specifically steal this?) to his wife, however, that implies Laura Barton is Mockingbird despite Agents Of SHIELD. Or it just means Bobbi Morse was issued a different number in the MCU. It’s easily handwavable like the giant whom armwrestled Red Guardian supposedly being Ursa Major. Laura is permanently trapped on the boring farm for reasons unknown, so it’s not like this reveal makes much of a difference. She didn’t come to NYC with her family on their Christmas getaway, so is she under house arrest or a curse?

Clint does make it home to his family on Christmas with Kate in tow. He burns the Ronin suit in the barbecue where he cooks for his family. (I expected the Ronin suit to be passed around from Clint to Kate to Grills to Echo to Swordsman.) Then he officially dubs Kate as the new Hawkeye. While he didn’t face repercussions for being Ronin, this was a good sendoff for Clint Barton. I wouldn’t have minded Maya or Yelena killing him, but I guess that’s not in the holiday spirit. Hopefully he’s retired for good so the Kate Bishop era won’t be weighed down by him.

Once you’ve survived Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, Rogers fails to impress. They wouldn’t let Fra Fee be part of the chorus. The series stinger is a full rendition of “Save The City.” Some fans HATED this! It’s just a silly scene ala “A Cowardly & Superstitious Lot.” Not everything has to end in a mysterious cameo from a new character that won’t be resolved for years!

WandaVision remains my favorite of the inaugural quintet (“What If…?” counts!), but Hawkeye is arguably the better series. It briskly tied up all its plot lines satisfyingly within six episodes rather than being almost entirely set-up with little payoff. It got me invested in seeing more of the rookies without ending on a cliffhanger. It didn’t take me out of the story by getting wrapped up in confusing reality warping, geopolitics, or time travel. Self-indulgent tangents are virtually non-existent. The mismatched partner action is fun. I had very low expectations yet enjoyed it very much. It’s just a well made show that hits its more modest targets. Sometimes it pays not to shoot for The Moon. Although it wasn’t quite a bull’s eye, it’s a Christmas miracle that Hawkeye turned out this good!

~

There’s at least one more post left in 2021!

6 thoughts on “Does Hawkeye Hit Its Target?

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s