Marvel continues with the next installment in the TV show division. This time it’s Hawkeye and so we’ve finally made it to one of the Core Avengers. The shows have been on an upwards trend for me so far. Wandavision<<<Cap and Winter Soldier<<<Loki<<<What If. Well, this one doesn't quite continue the trend as it loses to Loki and What If but it beats the first two shows. While it doesn't have quite the large scale stakes of some of the other shows, Hawkeye makes for a fun lead. This is more of a fun adventure next to the others and is definitely a good pick for Christmas. You can't go wrong here.
The show follows a girl named Kate Bishop who is an aspiring archer. She looks up to Hawkeye after he saved her during the 2012 attacks. Well, one day she ends up noticing that her mother Eleanor's new fiance Jack seems a bit suspicious. Kate follows him down to an auction when a bunch of thugs burst in. Kate takes the chance to steal the outfit of the Ronin which was on sale and uses it to beat up some crooks. The issue here is that the Ronin is infamous in the underworld because during the 5 year gap Hawkeye was going around murdering all of the villains in that costume. Now Kate is a wanted fugitive by the underworld.
As this involves his persona as the "Ronin", Hawkeye can't really ignore this issue. He heads into town and promises the family that he will be back in time for Christmas. That'll be tough though as the situation gets more complicated with the arrival of Black Widow and one of the biggest crime lords in town. Can Hawkeye help Kate stay out of danger or are they both in over their heads?
One thing I noticed during the show is that Hawkeye is portrayed as being much older than I remember. He didn't seem that way in Endgame but it's almost like Wolverine from X-Men Evolution where he just seems a lot slower and as if he's near the end of his career. Hopefully Hawkeye has some more moves in his arsenal since I'd like to see him around for a while. Of course as a mentor figure which the show is leading him towards, it's fine not to always be in the front lines.
Hawkeye makes for a charismatic main character. He's been around the block a few times and knows how to handle himself in a situation. It can always be a bit annoying when he's telling Kate to stay back when she is saving him though. You get why he would rather not have a kid around but he would have been finished off several times if not for her. There was a key moment when she broke into a villain lair to save him which was certainly a good moment. Hawkeye gradually lightens up by the end of the series though and learns how to have some fun.
As for Kate, she's one of the standout characters here. It's safe to say that her character was always going to be pivotal in the show because if she was unlikable or annoying then it would drag the whole story down. Fortunately she is a lot of fun though and she even reminds me of Katniss a lot. (Which the show references as well) Her outfit and appearance are extremely similar to the point where I'd assume it was the same actress if not for such a gap between now and when Hunger Games came out.
Kate can also fight which puts her well above the average aspiring hero. Now, some of her fights can get a bit cheesy yes. I had some power level issues with this show. They aren't as extensive as the ones I had with Loki but are definitely noticeable. What If had the biggest power level moments but that's to be expected with such a big cast. Kate's a loyal ally and she always has Hawkeye's back. I look forward to seeing her get another big role in season 2.
As for Jack, he's a rather solid fiancé. He's extremely suspicious throughout the show such as when he holds back his power in a fencing match but on the surface it does seem like he's doing his best to fit in with the family. You have to give him a lot of credit there and he even gets a fight by the end of the show. I liked him more than I thought that I would. Then you have Eleanor who wants to make sure and protect Kate at all costs. No matter what lines she has to cross, this ends up being Eleanor's main goal.
I thought she was a really solid character as well. Her very last scene in the whole show felt a little out of character and petty to be honest but she was really solid in every other moment. Kate could potentially end up with a really strong group of parents. Then you've got the villain group who all wear jackets. They're not nearly as intimidating as they think they are. There are really only two important members to the group. First off is Kazi who whines a lot and is always trying to pick the easiest route to success. I never really liked him. I feel like he's only confident when he completely has the upper hand. He's the kind of villain that I can picture making excuses at every corner. He's a decent fighter but takes a lot of Ls in this series. Ultimately I could do without him. He's even trying to translate for someone at the end of the series who knows and understands sign language. I was shaking my head because it seemed like Kazi was just trying to score some points.
Maya is one of the highest ranking members of the gang and she has a lot of development here. She isn’t able to hear but was still able to become a great fighter. It shows the level of talent that she has as this would definitely not be an easy feat. Sound is how you predict enemy movements and prepare for sneak attacks. Without that you’re in a much tougher spot. She can be a bit unreasonable at times though and didn’t really think the whole situation through. I think she’ll get better as she goes on but I wouldn’t say I was a big fan of hers. Much better than Kazi though.
Then we have Yelena who gets to make her big return after the Black Widow film. As always she is a lot of fun here and does her best to try and make sure it isn’t personal to Kate and the others when she takes down Hawkeye. Yelena definitely trolls Kate a lot during their interactions. It’s not that Yelena doesn’t take anything seriously but she always seems to like breaking the ice first. She’s sort of like Spider-Man with how she’s joking around although it’s less on the quippy side.
While she is a lot of fun, I do think the rationale for having her fight Hawkeye felt a bit flimsy. I had a hard time believing that this would actually happen or that Yelena would be so quick to believe just anyone. Not after she has already experienced so much deceit while being one of the Black Widows. It just didn’t make a whole lot of sense there. Now that the misunderstanding is cleared up, it should all be up hill for her. Skip the next paragraph if you don’t want to know about a certain guest star. I don’t really consider this to be a spoiler as I don’t consider it to be a huge plot spoiler or something that would change your experience but even so this is a heads up. If you skip the next paragraph then you’re all good.
Towards the end of the show we even get to see Kingpin for a bit. Netflix fans will be happy since we have one of their fighters appearing in the big Marvel show. That said, while he gets a lot of hype from Hawkeye and the others, I wasn’t very impressed with him. The guy barely has any kind of plan and underestimates his opponents a lot. The amount of times he just throws Kate away instead of knocking her out is quite numerous. Now you can say he’s just trying to be nice and doesn’t want to fight a kid. That’s fair but you still feel like he should have been able to escape numerous times. He’s never been all that threatening though as any hero should be able to quickly beat him since he’s the equivalent of just being a really strong henchmen. That’s why I would have kept him in the background instead of having him appear. It was surreal to have him show up though.
So to quickly touch on the power level stuff, it happened as early as the first episode for me when Kate showed up and took down a whole gang by herself. She was flipping over minions and knocking everyone around. Considering that she never had any real practical experience before now and just the skills she was taught, it felt a bit like a stretch. Then you have Kate giving Yelena a good fight. Sure, Yelena was holding back but since it was putting her mission in jeopardy I would have liked to have seen her show a bit more urgency and take the win instead of it being so even. The difference in skill here should be massive so Yelena would be able to win without going through all of that.
Likewise on the rooftop fight, Yelena is considerably more powerful than the other 3 fighters. She should have completely knocked them for a loop and there was no reason to retreat. Just secure the victory and take them out. Yelena was the most nerfed character here and while I can see why this was done, I think it could have been smoother overall. Power levels aren’t the kind of thing that loses a show any real points but it’s still something you want to try and avoid.
The rooftop fight is the best battle in the series though. It’s cool to have two different fights going on at the same time here. All of the combatants knew how to fight as well so there was really a lot of action there. Hawkeye isn’t a show that’s filled with action scenes but the ones that we do get are all pretty good. As mentioned before, what makes Hawkeye really work is that it’s just a lot of fun. The writing is good and there is consistently solid banter throughout the show. Each episode really flies by and the pacing is good. There’s no episode that is boring and something big happens in each one. The show makes the most of its miniseries format.
For the soundtrack, the show doesn’t quite match up to some of the previous ones but we have some good tunes on occasion here as well. Whenever a Christmas song shows up that’s always a lot of fun. Season 2 won’t be able to rely on those songs though so that means the show will need to develop more themes soon. One episode had a good end credits theme but for the most part the show usually didn’t have anything too spectacular.
Meanwhile the team had a dog who was fun in his quick appearances. I’m still game for the dog never appearing again though as it’s too risky. There’s also a group of would be adventurers who help Hawkeye and Kate at times but they’re probably the cheesiest parts of the adventure so you really don’t need them here. They somehow manage to beat a few henchmen and that just shouldn’t be happening. As it is I didn’t believe it when Kate was taking everyone down and she is considerably more skilled than these guys. I think the best thing to do is to really just keep those guys out of it.
The show has an after credits scene but it’s definitely skippable. It’s one of those scenes that isn’t actually plot important nor does it contain any of the good characters. I wouldn’t even call it entertaining so just skip it and go full blast towards season 2. Of course it may be a bit of a wait before that comes out but I’m expecting good things from it once that does eventually happen. The cast here is just solid and will hold their own in a sequel.
As a final note, I liked the way that they filmed the car chase scene in one of the episodes. The way it was filmed was really unique and just helped to make the chase feel different from most car battles. We got to see how arrows can be quite useful for attacking and defending even while in the car. There are a lot you can do with trick arrows in general so I would like to see more of those in season 2 as well.
Overall, Hawkeye is another fun Marvel show. The shows have done a good job of really feeling like the movies both in tone and graphics. The special effects here wouldn’t be out of place in a future film and since all of the big characters are here, it does feel like a proper continuation of their stories. There’s a lot you can do even if the characters stay in the town and fight local threats. Especially with someone like Hawkeye who was really built for street level encounters. His whole jaded outlook towards being a hero will always be a fun contrast to Kate’s more upbeat personality. In a way it’s fitting that this review is shorter than the other Marvel shows so far because there is less to talk about. There’s no time travel, moral debates with terrorists, seeing a lead get corrupted by her own power, having a battle across realities, or anything like that. Hawkeye isn’t a show that has any tough questions or big plots to deal with. It’s really a street level adventure dealing with some mild villains. It may not leave you with a whole lot to talk about, debate, and theory craft but you’ll leave the final episode satisfied that you watched a fun adventure fold. At the end of the day, that’ll always mean that the product was a success.