“Hawkeye”: Not Quite A Bullseye

Photo courtesy of marvel.com

Photo courtesy of marvel.com

Fair warning: This review contains spoilers.

Hawkeye” was by far my most anticipated Marvel Disney+ show. I was really excited to see the dynamic between Clint and Kate, and to potentially see Vincent D’Onofrio reprise his role as Kingpin and make his Marvel Studios debut along with Echo. Sadly this show did not live up to my expectations. In the end, this show put too many eggs in the same basket, and by the finale, it fumbled across the finish line.

To start, I’ll discuss what I liked. 

Clint and Kate Bishop’s relationship is done excellently and serves as the highlight of the show. Even in the weakest episodes they have a fun and engaging dynamic and seeing their mentor/mentee relationship develop across the show was a joy to see. 

Jeremy Renner is the best he’s been as Hawkeye so far, as he is more fleshed out and is provided a much more emotional arc than he’s previously had in the MCU. Seeing him continue to deal with the depression and guilt from Black Widow’s death and his tenure as Ronin provided a new depth to his mostly one-dimensional character up to this point. 

Hailee Steinfeld also kills it as Kate Bishop and was a bullseye casting (pun intended). Her character is well-written, and Hailee brings a lot of charm and charisma to the role. Her dynamic with (almost) every character is great, mostly due to her infectious personality that makes pretty much any scene she’s in better.

The show also breaks the curse of bad action scenes in the Marvel Disney+ shows, as it – for the most part – has some pretty decent action scenes with the standouts being the ice skating rink scene in the finale, and the car chase in episode three, where part of it is all one shot as the camera rotates in the backseat of a car. That said, the fights aren’t fantastic, they are just noticeably better than the bland and forgettable fights in previous MCU Disney+ shows. The action in most of the Marvel Netflix shows is still miles better.

Now for the mixed or disappointing aspects of the show.

Firstly, almost every character in the show that doesn’t use a bow isn’t utilized well at all. The tracksuits are pretty funny in the first two episodes, but after the car chase in episode three, they kind of devolve into standard goons. 

Echo was immensely disappointing in this show. She gets a well-done introduction in episode three, but after that, the show uses her shockingly little. After this, she gets a short fight scene at the end of the next two episodes, then just shows up in the finale, but exists entirely away from the actual conflict. 

Most egregiously is that they shove her most famous arc from David Mack’s “Daredevil: Parts of a Hole” into a hastily put-together 10 minutes across episodes four and five. This wouldn’t be as much of an issue if they didn’t literally pull a scene straight from the comics where she shoots Fisk. After episode three, it feels like Echo only shows up to remind us she’s in this show, but she’s not given anything interesting or engaging to do.

The Bishop family subplot is also particularly weak. The whole thing feels mostly like a waste of time and Kate’s mom particularly has next to nothing to do until the last episode, and the show somehow expects the audience to care about her. 

Jack is also a massive wasted opportunity. All the history he has with Hawkeye in the comics is erased and is replaced with shallow comic relief. Jack is set up to be a pretty interesting character, but his plotline doesn’t go anywhere, and they reveal at the last second that he’s somehow not involved with any criminal conspiracy despite the insurmountable evidence pointing to the contrary. Ultimately, I found the plotlines dealing with Kate’s mom and Jack detracted from sorely-needed runtime and development for other characters.

Speaking of that, Yelena from “Black Widow” should not have been in this show. 

She had almost nothing to do with the main plot and served the same exact narrative purpose of Echo – an angry assassin working for Kingpin because Hawkeye “killed” their loved one. This led to the stories of both characters being criminally underdeveloped and underwhelming. However, unlike Echo, Yelena contributed almost nothing to this show outside of a nice and heartfelt scene in the season finale. Simply speaking, she should’ve been saved for a season two, where she would’ve had more room to take a more engaging and active role in the plot.

This show also marks the return of Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin who was previously in the Netflix show “Daredevil.” This along with *Spider-Man: No Way Home Spoilers* Matt Murdock’s cameo in “Spider-Man: No Way Home” confirms that the Marvel Netflix shows are still canon to the MCU. As a massive fan of “Daredevil,” this has me beyond excited, because the street-level side of the Marvel Universe has always been what interests me the most. 

Sadly though, Kingpin was also wasted here. He got a relatively flat reveal, but beyond that, his introduction scenes are solid, and feel like they were ripped straight out of “Daredevil,” minus the excellent cinematography and editing. Outside of this and another scene he has shortly after with Echo, the rest of his tenure in the season finale was disappointing. Instead of the complex and intimidating criminal mastermind that was depicted in “Daredevil,” he comes off more like a dumb brute than anything. In a public street, he rips a car door off its hinges and tries to kill Kate’s mom, until she steps in and the two get into a poorly-edited fight scene. 

Compared to Daredevil, Kingpin rarely ever got physically involved in these conflicts. To my memory, he threw hands with people only five or six times in the entire show, three of which just being in season one. The show emphasizes that he is a cunning and manipulative criminal overlord and that aspect feels like it’s forgotten here. 

Vincent does a great job as ever, but the writing and implementation of his character were mediocre at best. The most egregious offense is that he gets shot by Echo. This was also in the comics, but in the “parts of a hole” story, this was a satisfying and cathartic moment for Maya and they built up the relationship between the two. 

Here, the scene just feels hollow and unnecessary, because the two only shared one scene together. This should have been saved for the Echo show, because she gets shockingly little screen time, and is forced to have a season-long character arc in only around 15 minutes. While I’m glad Kingpin is here to stay, his return to the MCU was very disappointing and leaves a sour note for the entire show.

If this show proves anything, it’s that this six-episode format for all the Marvel shows needs to go. This simply doesn’t give enough time to develop the plotlines they want to and in this case resulted in an extremely rushed show. This problem also arose in “WandVision” and a bit in “Loki.” To me, it seems as if Marvel Studios are having a difficult time transitioning to making shows because previously they stuck to just movies. 

Hawkeye had the potential to be one of the best MCU projects to date, but sadly it just falls short of the mark due to a meandering plot that goes into overdrive in the last episode, ruining any sense of buildup and satisfaction. Renner and Steinfeld steal the show as their dynamic grows across the show, and, hopefully, they and the creators will get a second chance with a season two.


Score: 5/10