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Hawkeye: Light, festive MCU family entertainment

  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Nov. 23, 2021 - 4:59 PM

Hawkeye: Light, festive MCU family entertainment

“Hawkeye” is pleasant family-oriented entertainment that continues the overly-safe and ever-diminishing Marvel machine.


Review by Jonathan W. Hickman

Hailee Steinfeld makes the amiable “Hawkeye” series worth checking out.

While the somber title hero is at the narrative’s center, it’s his young, playful protege, Kate Bishop, that steals the show.

“Hawkeye” continues to explore the lingering effects and collateral damage of the “Blip” that resulted in the stunning restoration of long-lost loved ones. Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), the family man of the Avengers, tries his best to play daddy, but his past keeps getting in the way.

Barton, aka Hawkeye, suffered greatly at the hands of Loki in the first blockbuster team-up, and then he went on a one-man killing spree as the murderous Ronin after Thanos snapped his fingers. Post-traumatic stress remains.

We meet Barton and his three children at Christmastime while they watch an Avengers-themed Broadway musical. The show, focused on the journey of Steve Rogers, is comically bad, but for Barton, it dredges up sad memories. His sensitive, understanding kids embrace their troubled father. To improve spirits, Barton takes them for a night on the town. But everywhere he goes, he’s reminded of his frightening days saving the world. This notoriety is a blessing and a curse.

Meanwhile, Bishop (Steinfeld), a New York resident, processes childhood trauma associated with the events from the first Avenger’s film. The devastating attack on the city forever altered her perfect, privileged life. Bishop’s mother, Eleanor (Vera Farmiga), is the president of a robust security firm, which provides Bishop with money and resources to explore unusual hobbies.

Like Hawkeye, Bishop is a talented archer. She’s also spent years learning martial arts. And when her mother becomes involved with a mysterious man, Bishop is instantly suspect and desperately protective. The resulting investigation sets her on a collision course with some of Barton’s dangerous, criminal underworld enemies. The two bow-and-arrow heroes inevitably cross paths.

“Hawkeye” is a minor addition to the MCU streaming project. Disney shared the first two episodes with critics, and I’m curious as to where this holiday-themed adventure will end up. This series, partially directed by Rhys Thomas (see “Comrade Detective”) and filmmaking duo Bert & Bertie (see “Troop Zero”), isn’t the most sophisticated narrative. Still, it moves at a brisk pace with lots of slam-bang, grounded fist-fights. Hopefully, the street-level action will continue as Bishop expands her abilities under Barton’s no-nonsense tutelage.

Steinfeld makes Bishop a fun, charismatic hero in the making. And the always somber Renner continues his stern portrayal, but with Steinfeld playing his sidekick, he’s able to crack wise sardonically.

Like “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” “Hawkeye” grapples with the emotional impact of battling otherworldly villains and the loss of friends and fellow warriors. And like Bucky Barnes, aka The Winter Soldier, Barton was the unwilling pawn of dark forces. This aspect of the character is only hinted at in the first two episodes but should offer the series some much-needed depth.

“Hawkeye” is pleasant family-oriented entertainment that continues the overly-safe and ever-diminishing Marvel machine.