USA 2021 6 episodes
November - December 2021
Warning: Some spoilers.
Hawkeye, the latest of the Marvel TV series which link into the Marvel Cinematic Universe films (MCU) tells a story of main protagonist Clint Barton, played once again by Jeremy Renner and, in this one, he’s just trying to get back from New York to his family for Christmas Day. However, he runs into trouble when a girl called Kate Bishop, played by Hailee Steinfeld, who has been training most of her life to be just like Hawkeye after seeing him in action in the Battle Of New York from the end of the first The Avengers film (aka Marvel’s Avengers Assemble to us here in the UK), stumbles on a secret underground auction of equipment left over from the decimated Avengers mansion, as it was after the events of Endgame. Namely, his old Ronin suit and retractable sword, which gets her into trouble when gangs related to many that Ronin wiped out mistake her for Ronin and come after her. So Hawkeye (aka Barton) has to stay in New York and keep the police and gangs at bay while the two try to uncover exactly what’s going on with the people behind the auction and how Kate’s mother, played by the always wonderful Vera Farmiga, is mixed up in things.
It’s an okay and mostly entertaining show I thought. It doesn’t feel in any way important to the way the Marvel universe is being reshaped at the moment but it does cram in some other elements which will lead on to other things... and ties up one small loose end.
For example, we have Alaqua Cox playing deaf/amputee character Echo, who is soon to spin off into her own series, apparently. And we have Florence Pugh reprising her role as the new, prime Black Widow, sister of Natasha, trying to make good on her mission to kill Clint Barton leading directly from the post credit scene in Black Widow (reviewed here). There are also a bunch of extra characters in the form of LARPers... which if memory serves stands for Live Action Role Players (yeah, I think some of my friends used to go in for this) and a one eyed dog who seems to have a terrific build up and seems like its own loose end, due to the way he meets up with Kate and Hawkeye in the TV show. I felt like the dog character had more of a purpose, perhaps, in an earlier script but maybe that part was jettisoned at some point... who knows?
And the chemistry is good between all the actors. It simmers along quite nicely with the odd, fairly well staged action scenes thrown in when they’re needed to pick up the pace... there’s a great scene where Kate and Hawkeye are getting to know each other in a car chase where she is firing off different borrowed trick arrows as they try and escape from a load of thugs. So, yeah, I loved the Christmas feel of the show and it was entertaining enough but not quite hitting on the right amount of mystery to maybe feel like it was somehow more important in the grand scheme of things.
One of the things it does do, however, is act as yet another tie in to the old, non-MCU versions of some of the characters and bring them into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I believe what’s happened with Marvel, after both their acquisition by Disney and then with the latter company also swallowing up Fox, is that they now have control over all... well, almost all... of their former characters. So at the end of both Spiderman Far From Home (reviewed here), Venom - Let There Be Carnage (reviewed here) and, I’m assuming (as I haven’t seen them yet), The Eternals and Spider-Man No Way Home, they’ve started integrating and folding characters and actors from previous non-MCU Marvel films into their own films. This is also the case with Hawkeye in that, when the main villain is revealed to be Kingpin (who it’s pretty obvious was going to put in an appearance in this), then he’s played by Vincent D'Onofrio, another great actor who played him in the old Daredevil TV show (which I’ve also not seen... yet). So, with the recent, possibly quite tenuous, news that Hugh Jackman may also be returning as a Marvel character he made famous in the X-Men films, it looks like we’re going to be seeing a lot more of this bizarre, cross franchise interpolation for a few years to come, I would think.
And, I’ve not much more to say about this other than, it kept me entertained and I had a blast with some of the Christmas references in the show. For instance, when Hawkeye is trying to teach Kate how to throw by aiming at the TV set controls, she hits it and it switches on revealing James Stewart running through Bedford Falls in It’s A Wonderful Life (reviewed here). But my best Christmas moments in the show were musical, when two of my favourite Christmas albums, Christmas In The Stars (The Star Wars Christmas album) and the great Vince Guaraldi’s incredible score to A Charlie Brown Christmas, were both featured as backgrounds to a couple of scenes.
And, yeah, a short review but not much to say about Hawkeye, I think. This one feels like a much smaller piece than some of the recent MCU TV shows but it’s not the least entertaining of them, for sure. I’m now wondering, since the plot thread was resolved in such a way that people who only watch the films will not know that it’s even happened, if we’ll ever be seeing Florence Pugh back as Natasha’s sister in the franchise. Because, presumably, people who haven’t seen this will wonder why she is not trying to kill Hawkeye the next time they meet. I guess we’ll see how popular that kind of move is away from the comic books (where it’s done all the time) when the time comes, no doubt. I think people will be confused.