Hawkeye - my musings

Published: 20th August 2023, by Andrew Radbourne.

My musingsabout D+ Hawkeye

Greetings everyone,

As an encore to my commentary on the woeful Secret Invasion, I felt compelled to offer a concise overview of the Disney Plus series, Hawkeye. Though much maligned, I actually enjoyed this show, and I'd go as far as to say it's potentially the best MCU D+ series overall. In my estimation, despite the quality of the initial five episodes, WandaVision took a nosedive, whereas Hawkeye managed to retain its allure throughout. Naturally, though, it wasn't without its flaws.

Bullseye Image of Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye Hailee Steinfeld as Kate Bishop Alaqua Cox as echo Florence Pugh as yelena Vera Farmiga as Eleanor Bishop Fra Fee as Kazi and pizza dog
Hawkeye Disney + poster
There have been allegations against the show decrying it as another notorious bait and switch. Given the precedent of similar sojourns into M-She-U territory, I can understand this assertion. It unquestionably aligns with those, often futile attempts to "diversify" their cast by ousting their acclaimed male characters. However, the so-called bait and switch requires something to be represented as one thing but is actually another. Whereas, this show has always been presented in the light of mentor-mentee dynamics, pointing towards a passing of the baton.

At the heart of it, the narrative is straightforward, rooted in Kate Bishop's admiration for Hawkeye during the battle of New York. After years of dedicated training, she inadvertently uncovers an unlawful auction peddling superhero/Avengers gear and dons Clint's Ronin costume in a bid to avoid being exposed. Clint, visiting the city with his family, finds himself drawn out of retirement to pursue the impostor and they unite to combat a criminal organization and safeguard their loved ones.

Hailee Steinfeld infuses considerable warmth and charm into Kate, turning around her unlikable characterisation in the comics. Despite her wealth, Kate's passion draws her towards superheroism, yet she often reveals a lack of experience and naivety. Contrarily, Clint is weary of the superhero life and yearns to lead a normal life with his family. He is laden with guilt over his post-snap actions, Renner, does an impeccable job portraying Clint's struggles. The naive enthusiast contrasting with the jaded old warrior is a staple narrative, reminiscent of True Grit, quite coincidentally that also featuring Hayley.

The series effectively broaches themes of loss, grief, and the trials of pursuing the superhero life, especially when confronted by superior, superhuman, forces. Throughout the show, Clint hammers home the potential high cost of Kate's choice. Despite the flaws, the series does an excellent job of positioning the characters and their choices, serving to highlight Clint's heroism and potentially replicating the same for Kate.

The driving forces behind much of the series' action stem from grief and at times revenge. Kate's decisions are spurred by her father's death during the Battle of New York. Echo, the prime antagonist, seeks retribution for her father's death at the hands of Ronin, while Yelena targets Clint, whom she blames for Natasha's death. Florence Pugh does an outstanding job portraying Yelena, sharing palpable chemistry with Hayley, especially in a scene where they share a meal. Despite Yelena's good humour, she radiates a constant threat, the understanding that she could effortlessly kill Kate...but chooses not to.

However, the show is not without its drawbacks. Despite the amusement provided by the Tracksuit Mafia, their leaders leave much to be desired. Echo doesn't shine as an appealing character, Alaqua Cox's rendition falls flat. The Larping sequences also come across as quite cringeworthy, appearing forced to counterbalance the heavy themes.

Kingpin's showdown with Kate highlighted a major misstep, painting a flawed introduction for a character previously seen as formidable even to Clint. The battle had her completely overmatched, but she comes away largely unscathed, a point that contradicts the earlier themes about the cost of heroism. It would've served the narrative better if she'd sustained injuries, demonstrating her resolve to persist despite the costs.

Clint Barton Jeremy Renner and Kate Bishop Hailee Steinfeld suted up in their Hawkeye costume bos drawn and arrows ready to be loosed
Clint and Kate's final showdown
Lastly, the critique aimed at Clint for succumbing to female adversaries also raises some valid points. Most of the time, it's because Clint chooses not to fight back. Clint's dominance in fights with Echo and Yelena suggests that he could've emerged victorious, but he refrains. He is sidelined somewhat in the climax, though this represents a coming-of-age moment for Kate.

A special element I liked in the series, Kate stumbles upon a watch from the destroyed Avengers compound, being auctioned. The antagonists pursue it, and so does Clint, whose family is oblivious to the fact that the watch can reveal the identity of a secret Shield agent - his wife. This subplot skillfully underscores his lingering motivation - to protect his family, depicting him as more than just a heroic Avenger.

Despite some criticism against the show, I found it to be engaging and well-acted and worthy of a second watch.

Peace out!
I'm giving this a score of 8
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