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Hawkeye season 1 review: a welcome holiday surprise

Hawkeye is probably the most unassuming of the Marvel exhibits on Disney Plus thus far.

It doesn’t have the instant hook of Loki’s time-bending story or WandaVision’s surreal tackle sitcoms. It additionally stars arguably probably the most forgettable of all of the Avengers, one who’s getting a huge highlight whereas different, extra notable characters get films that come years too late. And but… there’s one thing about its mix of detective story, MCU motion, and charming Christmas vibe that simply works. Throughout its six episodes, Hawkeye manages to steadiness being a superhero present that doesn’t take itself too critically with all the advanced storytelling parts that include being a part of the Marvel universe. The truth that it pulls all of it off so properly is one thing of a Christmas miracle.

This evaluation accommodates some mild spoilers for the primary season of Hawkeye.

Regardless of the title, Hawkeye isn’t a present nearly Jeremy Renner’s tackle the bow-wielding hero Clint Barton. He’s a huge a part of it, positive, however the story is simply as a lot about his wannabe protégé Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld). The 2 are pressured collectively after Kate dons the costume of a vigilante generally known as the Ronin — previously worn by Clint — placing her within the crosshairs of some very harmful individuals. Clint simply desires to be left alone to spend time along with his household over the vacations, whereas Kate, who grew up idolizing Hawkeye, couldn’t be extra thrilled about being pressured collectively.

The present’s fundamental energy is how the 2 play off one another. Kate is exceedingly charming, a playful mess who is continually in over her head, and but often in a position to discuss her means out of it. Clint is the other: sullen, pessimistic, however ready like Batman. The story is structured a bit like a detective story, at the very least at first, with the 2 investigating a bunch of shady individuals related to the Ronin. Oh, and in addition, it’s Christmas in New York. This all lends the present a gritty-yet-playful vibe that fits it properly, the place gunfights are interrupted by quips about USB requirements. It doesn’t take too lengthy earlier than the present intersects with the remainder of the MCU — and it does so from a few totally different instructions.

(*1*)

Picture: Marvel Studios

One of many fundamental connections was teased on the finish of Black Widow: Yelena (Florence Pugh) vows to avenge her sister’s demise by killing Clint. When she does present as much as do exactly that, she’s equal elements menacing and hilarious (very similar to in Black Widow), a trained-from-birth killer who can also be making an attempt to do some regular human stuff now that she’s (kind of) free. Pugh and Steinfeld have unimaginable chemistry — Steinfeld appears to have nice chemistry with nearly everybody — and it’s a lot of enjoyable to observe them discuss life and demise over a pot of macaroni and cheese, discussing every part from a deliberate killing to Rudolph, the “super-powered reindeer.” In a while, the 2 can’t cease complimenting one another within the midst of a brutal fistfight, with Kate telling Yelena, “Cease making me such as you.”

Whereas Marvel followers knew that one was coming, the opposite huge connection is rather more surprising. The large unhealthy of season 1 is the felony overlord Kingpin, and on this case, he’s performed by Vincent D’Onofrio, who additionally had the position on Netflix’s Daredevil. It’s surprising primarily as a result of, because the launch of Disney Plus and the brand new wave of MCU streaming sequence that got here with it, the destiny of the Netflix exhibits and characters has been a supply of a lot debate. All I’m saying is, subsequent time an MCU character wants some assist with an investigation, Jessica Jones is correct there.

These sorts of crossovers are widespread for Marvel, and for probably the most half, they don’t really feel too obtrusive right here. (Nothing is as unhealthy as, say, Jonathan Majors’ monologue on the finish of Loki.) The reveals hit a little more durable if you already know what’s already occurred — I might advocate at the very least watching Black Widow first — however in any other case, the background information isn’t strictly essential to know that Kingpin is a mob mastermind, and Yelena is a charming murderer. Hawkeye balances issues properly, making it work pretty properly each for the die-hards and people coming in contemporary.

Picture: Marvel Studios

There are perhaps a few too many threads occurring concurrently, although, significantly in the direction of the top. There’s an essential villain reveal; the inevitable showdown between Clint and Yelena; the debut of some much-teased superhero costumes; a pivotal second for Echo (Alaqua Cox), a future hero who starts out as a criminal; Kate’s seeming ascendance to Hawkeye-level hero; and naturally, a tease for what comes subsequent, which on this case seems to contain Clint’s spouse, Laura Barton (Linda Cardellini). (Surprisingly, Hawkeye doesn’t have the standard MCU huge reveal after the credit; as an alternative, viewers get to observe a full-song efficiency from the goofy Avengers musical from the primary episode.) There’s a lot occurring — at one level within the finale, there are three pivotal fights occurring concurrently — and the final episode rushes by way of a few of them with out giving a lot time for the heavy moments to land.

This type of balancing act is, after all, key to the entire Marvel machine, the place each story is only one cog in a a lot larger machine. Hawkeye pulls it off in addition to any of its contemporaries. It really works as a standalone story, a enjoyable romp by way of Christmas in New York, whereas additionally weaving in a number of threads from varied different Marvel tales and establishing at the very least two extra. All that in simply six episodes — and whereas rehabilitating Clint Barton into a hero you lastly care about.

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