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‘Hawkeye’ Review: Bullseye! Marvel Shoots and Scores!

This is a Non-Spoiler Review!

HAWKEYE is the latest limited series from Marvel Studios and the eighth entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Four.

Our last outing, Eternals, received polarising responses from both audiences and critics, while Marvel’s What If…? started-out strong but quickly stumbled as the series went on. Since I haven’t seen the entirety of Hawkeye, I can’t say whether it suffers the same fate as What If…? but from what I’ve seen so far, I think it will excel as much as The Falcon and the Winter Soldier did.

I was pretty sceptical going into the series considering that Matt Fractions 2012-2015 Hawkeye comics are my all-time favourite Marvel series, but Hawkeye is another hit from Marvel Studios.

It’s not as grand as WandaVision or as epic as The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, but the street-level scope the series takes gives another unique look into the world of the MCU.

Welcome Back, Mr Barton

Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye in Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame (2019).

It’s been two years since we last saw Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, and the long gap we’ve had without him has translated perfectly into the series because it feels like Barton has been away from the action in real-time. After being separated from his family for five years, Barton has returned to ordinary life, but we see that his actions during the Blip are coming back to haunt him.

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Since it’s a long-form series, we get to see a side of Barton that is typically left off-screen. We get to experience his life as a man who is desperately trying to juggle being an everyday husband and father while being a former Avenger, a title that has become more of a curse than a blessing.

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In the past, Renner has garnered mixed reactions for his portrayal, and after ten years, many have warmed to his performances. But Renner’s performance in Hawkeye is the best we’ve seen yet, and all it took was a team of writers who knew who the character was.

Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye in Marvel’s Avengers (2012).

In fact, despite Barton being a starring member of the Marvel Cinematic Universe since 2011’s Thor, and with five movies under his belt, this is possibly the most comic-accurate we’ve ever seen him. From the satisfying mixture of home-life versus superhero-life, right down to his disability.

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Yes! Clint is now deaf and is using hearing aids, a core element of his character that has egregiously been left out since his on-screen debut. And as a Hawkeye fan, who is also partially deaf, I was particularly pleased to see this.

But let’s face it, you’re probably not here to read about Clint, are you?

Hailee Steinfeld Goes Above and Beyond

Hailee Steinfeld makes her MCU debut as Kate Bishop.

Kate Bishop finally enters the MCU in the form of Academy Award-nominee Hailee Steinfeld. She looks the part, but does she act the part?

Long answer – Steinfeld completely encapsulates Kate Bishop in the same way that Chris Evans plays Steve Rogers or Chris Hemsworth plays Thor. Basically, she is Kate Bishop.

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Steinfeld offers such a refreshing take that she makes Bishop seem incomparable to any other character in the franchise. When we meet most of the Marvel characters for the first time, they have already been allowed to skip some steps for the sake of time. But with Bishop, we get to see a character who hasn’t completely mastered her skills.

Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), Pizza Dog, and Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) exchange some words.

Bishop is an almost-expert archer and while she can get herself out of a fight; she can only just get herself out of trouble, as we see in episode one. The fight choreography for Steinfeld’s fight scene in this episode stood out to me because only an expert can make Bishop look like she needs to brush up on her skills, and it was great to see a fight that wasn’t evenly matched, for the most part.

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When compared to the grandiose fight scenes in Marvel films, Hawkeye obviously doesn’t compare, but the smaller scenes are no less fun to watch especially since they look like how a real gang fight might look in real life.

Fraction’s Influence

Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) aims for gold in Hawkeye.

It cannot be understated how much Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye influenced this limited series. He may not have created the character, but Fraction’s take on the famous character is famous among comic book fans as it’s not only one of the best runs Hawkeye has had, but it’s one of the best series to come out of Marvel Comics in recent years.

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If you can’t already tell, I’m a big fan of the 2012-2015 Hawkeye series. Does that mean I was going to go into this series knowing I would like it? I actually thought I would dislike it because of how much I love the Matt Fraction series so much. Imagine my delight to see all the best aspects of my favourite comic leap from page to screen. Fraction didn’t even write this series and yet the writers have managed to inject his signature humour into it.

But just because it’s fairly reminiscent of the comics that doesn’t mean that it’s a direct adaptation. Disney+’s Hawkeye is very much its own thing.

Pizza Dog For The Win!

The one. The only. Pizza Dog!

One significant addition that harkens back from Fraction’s era is the fan-favourite Lucky, aka Pizza Dog! Initially owned by a member of the Tracksuit Mafia, Arrow changed his allegiance after Clint showed him some kindness. Clint then took him in, renamed him Lucky, and nicknamed him Pizza Dog due to his love of pizza.

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Pizza Dog is as cute as his comic-book counterpart, and audiences are bound to fall in love with the one-eyed beauty.

Hawkeye may not be a direct adaptation of his run, but Fraction’s talent subtly bleeds into the show thanks to his role as a consultant on the series.

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From Renner’s long-awaited return to Kate Bishop’s long-awaited debut, Hawkeye is a certified hit. Hailee Steinfeld brings Kate Bishop to life in a way that no fan will dislike.

Marvel’s Hawkeye will debut with a two-episode premiere on Wednesday 23rd November, exclusively on Disney+.