One thing the Marvel Cinematic Universe has excelled at throughout its lifetime is its ability to adapt its now-familiar superhero formula to a wide range of genres. This is a large part of what keeps the seemingly endless action feeling fresh. In Hawkeye, the newest series to land on Disney+, the MCU dives headfirst into a murder mystery thriller that’s given a festive coat of paint. The immediate impression after watching the first two episodes (which are both available now) is that this spin-off is a fun-filled superhero romp to get viewers in the holiday spirit.
The series kicks things off by introducing a new character: Kate Bishop (played by the Oscar-nominated Hailee Steinfeld). She’s a highly skilled archer and martial artist in her early 20s, who inadvertently stumbles into shady circumstances at a black-market auction. A chain of events and the discovery of a body put her in the path of Avenger Clint Barton (once again played by Jeremy Renner), who’s trying to have a Christmas getaway with his kids in New York. The pair soon join forces despite Barton’s reluctance.
These first two episodes are primarily exposition to get the main plot rolling, though there’s never a dull moment to be found thanks to the dynamic between Renner and Steinfeld. Whereas Kate is plucky but excitable and inexperienced, Barton is at his weariest. He’s older, losing his hearing and is still grieving the loss of his closest friend. Steinfeld brings much of the comedy while Renner is being set up to be the emotional centre of the series. The show is as much about him as Kate, and could likely be the final part of his long-running character arc. The appearance of Better Call Saul’s Tony Dalton is also a pleasant surprise.
The programme doesn’t hit the bullseye in every area, however. Discussions of wealth and privilege highlighted in the first episode must be addressed further if Kate is to become a more relatable and fleshed-out character. Likewise, a handful of exterior action scenes are severely hampered by poor lighting, making them difficult to follow.
With the main antagonist only being introduced at the end of the second episode, Hawkeye is only just getting started. But if these episodes are an indicator of what to expect, the series will be a wild, festive-flavoured ride.
Hawkeye is released on Disney+ on 24th November 2021.
Watch the trailer for Hawkeye here: