Hawkeye: Never Meet Your Heroes

Hey, the training montage is MUCH easier when it’s animated. I may do it this way from now on.

In 2012, Marvel Studios made history. Not only did the Avengers set all kinds of box office records at the time, but for the first time, characters that had headlined their own movies came together as a team for a major event. In the MCU, there were six founding Avengers, and five of them have had their own movie, or movies. Hawkeye, often overlooked and with arguably the smallest part in both his first appearance (Thor) and The Avengers, now gets the Disney+ treatment in his own six episode series.

In the comics, many years after the Justice League inspired the Teen Titans over at DC Comics, the Avengers finally got their own youth group with the Young Avengers. One of the more popular members of that team is Kate Bishop, who also took the name Hawkeye as her idol was dead at the time. Hey, it’s comics, nobody dies forever. Since then, both heroes have used the name, causing some occasional confusion.

Now the two archers meet up for the first time in the MCU. The Battle of New York, the big dramatic fight near the end of 2012’s Avengers, has affected many events throughout the MCU. The same is true here, as we see a bit of young Kate’s family life before the big battle changes things forever. This launches the girl on a new path. Instead of the usual sort of training montage, they do something very clever with the opening credits. When they end, we end up in the present day. Kate does a version of a stupid collage stunt that gives us a nod to the first Iron Man movie and goes disastrously poorly. Interestingly, one of her friends has a rare name with ties to a team both Clint and Kate have been on.

Speaking of disasters, most of the Barton family is in New York as the holidays approach and goes to see a show on Broadway. In a sort of meta moment, while the musical seems like a ridiculous idea, it actually harkens back to a show that never quite got off the ground in the 1980’s in the real world. The show doesn’t impress Clint, and gives him a few flashbacks. The man’s had a rough several years. He ducks out to get some peace, and gets approached by a fan in a really cringe-worthy way. For what it’s worth, some fans actually do what happens here; authors I know have told me some stories. Outside after the show, there are a few touching moments with his kids. When we saw Clint’s mostly grown daughter in Endgame, there was a lot of fan speculation she’d become the MCU version of Kate Bishop. Obviously, this didn’t happen, but it’s interesting to see them both in the same episode.

Coming home for the holidays, Kate has a phone conversation with her mother, walks past an ad for something familiar, and shows she’s at least on good terms with the doorman at her mother’s building. Getting home, she has a tense conversation with her mother about the stupid stunt earlier, sees some changes in the décor of the penthouse, and has an encounter with her mother’s boyfriend, Jack. Between the new decorations and the man’s first name, I was pretty sure I knew who this was supposed to be, and later at least confirmed the character’s full name is the same. The Bartons go out to dinner, have some nice family moments, and we can see Clint really is a good dad, and that it’s something he clearly enjoys. There’s a minor event after dinner that both shows Clint’s status in the city and that he’s very uncomfortable with it.

Kate goes to the charity auction her mother wanted her at, and we see her fashion sense is very different from her mom’s. Kate ends up chatting with an old family friend and gets some very surprising news that shocks her. A very unhappy Kate confronts mother Eleanor, and they have another tense conversation. Kate leaves to gather her wits and meets a very odd dog who is familiar to readers of some of Hawkeye’s solo comics. Going back inside, there are weird tensions between Eleanor and Armand, the family friend Kate ran into earlier. Getting the feeling that nothing is as it seems, Kate follows Armand to a special part of the party. It starts off as something that just seems like it’s reprehensible black market stuff of the very rich, but then it takes a turn into things very much rooted in the MCU. Kate is good at sneaking around but not great at bluffing or cover stories, but just as she gets herself in trouble, the event is attacked by heavily armed thugs.

Taking matters into her own hands, Kate steals something that has more of a connection to her than she knows and leaps into action. While she does all right for herself, we see the difference between her training, as impressive as it is, and actual fight experience. She once again runs into the dog from before and they sort of team up. We also see a hint of Jacks’ character, and he’s not exactly a hero. The Barton clan gets back to their hotel room after some family fun. The nice evening gets interrupted when the news covers something we’ve just seen that utterly rivets Clint’s attention.

Kate and her new companion make their way home with an item that was the main target of the thieves from earlier, and Kate makes some quick arrangements before going out again. Determined to try and find out more about what happened earlier, she goes to do some light breaking and entering, and shows another almost endearing mix of talent and lack of experience. Making her way inside, she snoops around and makes a shocking discovery she is not at all prepared for. Fleeing, she makes a clean getaway inside, only to run into some serious trouble outside. Clearly out of her league, she manages to barely hold her own until she makes a partial retreat that gets her trapped. Things are looking bad when she gets some last-minute help and there’s a surprising meeting to end the episode.

What I liked: The opening credits were impressive and creative. They told a part of the story instead of just being an introduction. I really liked seeing Clint with his family, and while it was uncomfortable watching him deal with the flashbacks, it makes perfect sense he’s having them. His daughter, Lila, is a very insightful and caring young woman. I’ve enjoyed all of Jeremy Renner’s appearances as Hawkeye, and Hailee Steinfeld was great as Kate Bishop. I’m intrigued by Eleanor’s fiancé, who seems to be a character from the comics that has ties to Hawkeye’s early years. The nod to the first Iron Man movie was a nice touch, and the Battle of New York playing such a large part in things made a lot of sense. The musical was an enjoyable, goofy, but believable touch. The auction was dark and slimy and something I could see happening.

What I didn’t: The items Kate found at the auction having such a big tie to her hero was a bit large of a coincidence. I get the idea why it didn’t happen, but I’d like to have seen the entire Barton family together. I’m hoping there’s at least a passing reference to some of the other New York heroes as the show goes on.

I enjoyed this a lot. I’m giving this a 4 out of 5 and I am looking forward to seeing more as time permits.