'Hawkeye' Episodes 1 & 2 Review: A Slow but Promising Start
The latest in the lineup of Disney+ Marvel shows, Hawkeye is shaping up to be a fun Christmas-themed Avenger show that’s also really down to earth.
November 24, 2021
The latest in the lineup of Disney+ Marvel shows, Hawkeye is shaping up to be a fun Avenger show that’s also really down to earth. Spoilers ahead!
In the first two episodes of Hawkeye, we are reintroduced to Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) aka Hawkeye and Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), a young archer and Hawkeye fan.
These first episodes focus more on Kate Bishop. In the comics, Kate shares the moniker Hawkeye with Clint. Per usual for the MCU, Steinfeld is perfect casting. Steinfeld’s Kate is charming, confident, bubbly, and self-sufficient. She’s amazing to watch in action. Steinfeld’s performance during her action sequences is so raw and natural; it’s admirable. She’s constantly grunting and shouting as she takes punches and throws them. In mainstream superhero and action film, we don’t typically see young female heroes fighting at the street level, throwing their weight against opponents with no armor or special powers to protect them. What’s more, Kate is totally confident in her fighting abilities, which is completely justified by her years worth of training in various martial arts. Kate is already extremely likable not only as a character, but as a fighter.
Kate decided to pick up a bow and arrow following the attack on New York from the first Avengers movie. This is my favorite opening scene so far from any Marvel Disney+ show. In the first few minutes, a young Kate Bishop is living her normal life before her house starts shaking, she hears explosions outside, and she’s dropped into an apocalyptic, nightmarish scene. She looks through a hole in her house to witness an alien invasion.
I love this aspect about the Disney+ series: showing huge, Avengers-level threats from the point of view of civilians. A similar opening sequence in WandaVision used Monica Rambeau’s point of view to convey the chaos of the Blip. Hawkeye’s opening sequence shows that while Clint and the others were fighting the Chitauri invasion, normal people were scrambling for their lives. Clint saving Kate with an arrow was a smart way to connect the pair and to inspire Kate, even if this is a different origin story for her than in the comics.
In the show, Kate investigates the death of Armand III and her stepfather’s connection to it. So far, her stepfather Jack is the most obvious suspect. Who is Jack, really? Why was he at a black market auction buying—then stealing—Ronin’s sword? If the show sticks to his comic book origin, Jack’s alter ego is Swordsman. Swordsman was a surrogate father to Clint Barton, training him in the use of blades and other weapons. Who knows what connection they’ll have in the show, if any.
Meanwhile, Clint is facing his own issues. He’s spending time with his kids in New York. He even takes them to see the Rogers musical, a hilarious parody of real-life musicals. The actress playing Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow appears onstage, and Clint is overcome with grief. He can’t stand to watch; even turning off his hearing aid (more on that later). Clint escapes to the bathroom where he sees some disturbing graffiti: “Thanos was right.” The graffiti is a gut-punch given how Natasha sacrificed herself to stop Thanos. Clint and Natasha were best friends, and he’s still grieving her. Hopefully we’ll see more of Clint’s grieving process throughout the series. That’s what the Disney+ shows are supposed to do: intimately explore characters we only get to see the surface of in movies. The first two episodes only scratch the surface of everything Clint is going through.
Speaking of, Clint wears a hearing aid now. Finally, like in the Matt Fraction comics this show is heavily inspired by, MCU Clint is deaf (in one ear at least) and requires a hearing aid. Hot on the heels of deaf speedster Makkari’s debut in Eternals, Hawkeye features more deaf representation! Like the rest of us, Kate questions how this happened. A genuinely hilarious montage follows, showing each and every time Clint was near an explosion in all of the Avengers movies. Though short, this sequence reminds us of how human Clint is. He’s the one person on the team without superpowers or armor besides Natasha. Clint’s body is finally facing the effects of his time as an Avenger.
Clint and those around him don’t treat his deafness as a burden, which is a relief. He turns his hearing aid off when he doesn’t want to hear something. He’s learned a bit of sign language—though how much is unclear. Hopefully it’s used more in the show. In one tender moment, his son signs “I love you” for the first time, and Clint’s smile is pure joy. His deafness should continue to be important to the show and to his character.
Hawkeye also debuts another deaf hero: Maya Lopez aka Echo. She appears at the very end of episode 2 as the Tracksuit Mafia’s boss. This is very exciting. A deaf, Native American woman as a badass mob boss? Yes, please! It remains to be seen whether she has her abilities from the comics: Echo can mimic the fighting style of anyone she sees. I hope she still has these abilities. In particular, I can’t wait to see how she interacts with Clint. Will they use sign language to communicate? Why is Maya targeting Clint? But the main question on Marvel fans’ minds is: Is she working for Kingpin?
Although I’m excited for the rest of this show, my main concern is the pacing. These first two episodes are slow, which is a bit worrisome given Hawkeye is only 6 episodes long. Clint doesn’t meet Kate until the end of episode one, and neither have made significant steps forward in solving their mysteries. How will the show tie up all the loose ends? Who killed Armand III? Will we learn more about Clint’s past as Ronin? We’ll have to wait for next week’s episode to find out.