Review | ‘Hawkeye’ is better late than never


Disney+ screenshot

Disney’s new series “Hawkeye” is streaming on Disney+.

By Diana Velasquez, Culture Editor

Clint Barton admits in his new series that Hawkeye isn’t the kind of superhero that sells action figures — a fact that Marvel fans have likely long been aware of. 

Marvel’s signature archer doesn’t have the pizazz of Tony Stark’s Iron Man, Captain America’s glass-cutting jawline or the Scarlet Witch’s beautifully chaotic magic. He’s just a guy with a bow and arrow, and that seems to be what the new “Hawkeye” Disney+ series is about.

Hawkeye used to be the butt of the joke among Marvel fans for years — the hero who wasn’t worth a movie. Jeremy Renner has always been stuck on the sidelines, popping in and out of Avengers movies whenever Joss Whedon or one of the Russo Brothers needed a cool arrow shot. 

When Disney announced the creation of its new streaming service Disney+ in 2018, it also announced titles for some Marvel spinoff series on the platform. These shows are supposed to highlight “second-tier” characters, who were unlikely to receive big movie franchises of their own, such as the Captain America or Iron Man trilogies.

So far, Disney has had great success with its MCU miniseries, second-tier characters or not. Critics hailed “WandaVision” as one of the best shows of the year, and it received more than 20 Emmy nominations. “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” and “Loki” also received relative success on the platform.

Though I would say if Disney characterized Wanda Maximoff and Loki as “second-tier” characters, then Barton is more scraping at the sides of the bucket.

That isn’t to say that Hawkeye isn’t successful. He joined the Avengers team early on in the comics, had multiple romantic stints with heroes such as Black Widow and Mockingbird and had his own on and off comic series since the 1980s.

But he doesn’t have that shiny put his face on T-shirts kind of persona, which in the Disney+ series seems to be his biggest schtick.

First of all, Barton isn’t going to be the only Hawkeye anymore. In line with the comic’s lore, Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) will be teaming up with Barton to don her own Hawkeye mantle. 

The first two episodes of the show aired last Wednesday, where Kate is introduced as a young trust fund baby who spent most of her childhood enrolled in lots of martial arts clubs. Since she saw Hawkeye fight in the infamous Battle of New York, featured in “The Avengers,” she also has an affinity for archery. 

She’s smart, eager and definitely a little naive, so she plays a great counterpart to Renner’s MCU Hawkeye, who after his many escapes with the Avengers, is firmly cemented in his status as a “sidelined” and “leave me alone” kind of Avenger.

Personally, I always thought that the MCU Hawkeye was too serious. When he was on-screen in the Avengers movies, it usually wasn’t to crack a joke like he does in the comics. And though it has fit well so far for the series, I’m not a huge fan of Laura Barton and his “side-family” storyline.

But it seems that Marvel is correcting this formula with the new show. Clint Barton is the funny man now, or at least the show is supposed to be.

In the first two episodes of the show, Barton parades around New York trying to enjoy a simple Christmas with his kids. As of now, it seems that he left most of his superhero-ing days behind. But as always, past deeds don’t always stay dead. 

Barton’s ghost comes back in the form of “Ronin,” the moniker he donned in the timeframe between “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame.” As Ronin, he spent his years dismantling the criminal underworld mob by mob, leaving bloody footprints in his wake.

Clint’s stint as Ronin was more of an outlet for his frustration over his family’s death rather than a desire to clean up the criminal underworld, and now that he has his family again, he’s determined to leave the mantle behind.

However, Ronin returns after Kate finds the costume and decides to beat up some members of the “Tracksuit Mafia” wearing the costume, putting a target on her back.

You might think I’m joking with the “Tracksuit Mafia,” but I’m completely serious. They’re a group of Russian “dudebros,” for a lack of a better word, based in New York. They come from the 2012 “Hawkeye” comic-run written by David Aja, who’s visual aesthetic seems to be the baseline of the series. 

They’re a little goofy and ridiculous, but they have the numbers to make up for some of their incompetence. 

While the internet is aflutter with theories for a bigger baddie who will make an appearance after the first two episodes, Kingpin is one of the chief subjects. And an appearance from one Yelena Bolova is already confirmed.

“Hawkeye” has great potential. It’s hard not to enjoy that classic reluctant mentor and overenthusiastic mentee dynamic that they already have going between Clint and Kate. It’s a tried and true formula, notably mimicked before in the MCU between Tony Stark and a young Peter Parker. 

And for a show founded on absurdity, already it’s full of schitzy action sequences, breezy one liners and the cringiest clearly Hamilton-inspired “Rogers” Broadway musical. There’s no limit to the amount of shenanigans I predict we’ll see Kate and Clint in. 

Though for Clint and apparently Jeremy Renner’s sanity, I can only hope there’s no more LARPing sidequests he has to sludge on through.