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The “New” Hawkeye | A TV Show Review

(L-R): Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) and Hawkeye/Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) in Marvel Studios' HAWKEYE, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2021.

The Following Contains Spoilers for the Hawkeye TV Show. 

With the conclusion of the Hawkeye series comes a new generation of superheroes born out of lasting conflict, mentorship from the old, and unequivocal heroism.

Can this new generation of heroes stand together in an iconic circle amidst an arena of endless chaos and unyielding villainy? Or will their youth and inexperience, their lack of serious foes to challenge the veracity of their conscience, make them fall short of their predecessors? 

Certainly, the Marvel audience waits in unattainable anticipation as the heroes they have grown accustomed to ever since that first Iron Man movie is slowly replaced with unfamiliar faces, hoping they can grow that same affection for the new Avengers.

To start, the series was better than Falcon and the Winter Solider but fell short in beating WandaVision and Loki. The show demonstrated, once again, that weighty dialogue and well-acted scenes can be more impactful than constant action sequences. The action, per Marvel’s usual arrangement, was entertaining, but the acting and writing were far more notable. 

This show, like the Black Widow stand-alone movie, was a heart-warming tribute to Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye who had a tough, uninviting exterior that combatted the Mad Titan’s military while being an affectionate father to his children. 

Transformed from being a side character in the first Thor movie, Hawkeye’s relationship with his “secret” SHIELD family and Natasha added a layer of unforeseen complexity to his character development. He was not simply a skilled archer but a man with a foot in the realm of embattled alien armadas and another foot in an equally challenging realm of parenting. 

Compared to the almighty god of thunder or the invincible Armored Avenger, Hawkeye was an ordinary hero whose consistent attempts to rationalize the chaos in the MCU made him more relatable than most Marvel characters. 

And while this show did bring a memorable conclusion to Jeremy Renner’s character, it also made way for Hailee Steinfeld’s Hawkeye. 

What I found interesting about Steinfeld was that her character presented a stark contrast from Renner’s character. She did not carry the burden of Ronan’s past, but, more importantly, her optimistic outlook on life and ambitious demeanor differed from Renner’s quiet and resolved personality. 

She is inexperienced but incredibly versatile in both combat and emotional awareness. She is, without a doubt, skilled and properly trained, but she still requires more guidance should she replace an original Avenger. 

After being struck by her father’s tragic death in the first Avengers movie, her character was immediately inspired by Hawkeye. 

“When I was younger, aliens invaded. And I was alone. And I was terrified. But then I saw you, fighting aliens with a stick and string. I saw you jump from that building even though you can’t fly, even though you don’t have superpowers. And I thought, “If he could do that, then I didn’t have to be scared.” You showed me that being a hero isn’t just for people who can fly or shoot lasers out of their hands. It’s for anyone who is brave enough to do what’s right, no matter the cost.”

-Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop from the Hawkeye finale 

This quote essentially defined Steinfeld’s character because her ambition to be like her role model unlocked a profound and genuine care for those around her and the innocent. Even in the first episode, she put herself in danger by jumping in the street and saving her dog. 

Perhaps she hopes that this ambition or heroism will prevent daughters from losing their fathers in the future, or maybe she resented that helplessness she felt during the first Avengers movie.

In any case, one of the best aspects of the series was her relationship with Renner’s character. Their different personalities complemented each other, and they nailed the mentorship-student relationship. Renner, for his part, acted like a surrogate father to Steinfeld, initially concerned about her safety and eventually confident in her ability. 

While the series was short, the Marvel audience will undoubtedly see Steinfeld take the mantle of Hawkeye, and I am all here for it. 

Another relationship worth mentioning was between Hawkeye and Yelena, who is replacing Natasha as the new Black Widow. Yelena is just like Kate in so many ways: impressionable, confident, and set on their perspective of the world. My favorite scene in the entire series was when Yelena interrogated Kate because it showed the importance of impactful dialogue. (I go more in-depth about this idea in my latest podcast episode)

However, that final scene between Hawkeye and Yelena is truly heart-wrenching and tragic because Yelena realizes for the first time the true nature of his sister’s death and how she was manipulated into believing her sister’s closest friend killed her. The actress for Yelena did an amazing job in portraying that emotional transition when she faced that utter realization. 

On a final note, I was disappointed with Kingpin’s appearance. As a Daredevil fan, I loved Kingpin as a villain because of how ominous and well-written his character arch was. He was a New York force to be reckoned with that decimated his opposition with unmatched strength and fatal monologues. 

So, when an amateur archer bested a villain Daredevil took three seasons to defeat, it seemed unreasonable. 

Given Kingpin’s insane strength, which can benchpress 650 pounds in the comics, any one of those blows should have at least knocked Kate Bishop unconscious. Either Kingpin was pulling his punches out of severe underestimation of Bishop’s abilities, or Bishop had impenetrable plot armor. 

Also, despite the implication at the show’s end, I do not think Kingpin is dead, or maybe the Kingpin in the Hawkeye series is a variant of the Kingpin in the Daredevil series. Kingpin faced the most formidable and skilled opponents in the Netflix series and bashed a Russian mob boss’s head with a door until he decapitated him, so I find it hard to believe that Kingpin met his demise at the end of a gun’s barrel. 

Regardless, I enjoyed this series from beginning to end. The writing and emotional connections drawn between several characters were intriguing and unique to the array of Disney+ series. Going forward, I am excited to see Hailee Steinfeld become the next Hawkeye and where this new generation of Marvel superheroes will take the Marvel audience. 

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