By James Magee, First Year, Politics and Spanish
Disney+ caps off its first year of Marvel mini-series with some festive fun in the form of Hawkeye, a Christmas tale centred around everyone’s – let’s face it – least favourite Avenger.
Lamented by many comic-book fans, super-archer Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) is characterised by his distinct lack of superpowers, making it harder for people to idolise him, especially since he lines up next to the likes of Captain America, Thor and the Hulk.
One person who is fixated with the bowman, however, is Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop. She’s juggling all the challenges of student life and returns to New York City for the winter break and finds herself trying to uncover the truth surrounding her stepfather’s dodgy dealings. Her dreams come true when she crosses paths with her hero, as Clint’s shady pre-Endgame (2019) shenanigans catch up with him. It’s these shenanigans that lead him to become re-embroiled in the criminal underworld with Kate. Being the hero he is, he makes it his mission to protect the youngster from the group of mobsters hunting them down, all in time for him to fly home for a family Christmas.
It’s clear from the start that Marvel are well aware of Barton’s weak appeal; ‘your problem is branding’, his admirer-turned-protégé tells him as she explains why he’s not as popular as the other Avengers. Fans boredom is alleviated by the strong focus on the newcomer in the opening two episodes.
24-year-old Steinfeld – who’s been on our screens for over a decade, being nominated for an Oscar aged just 14 – brings valuable experience to a complex role. While Kate’s privilege and recklessness should make her unlikeable to audiences, the actress offers an irresistible charisma – not unlike what Robert Downey Jr. brought to Tony Stark/Iron Man – that makes you warm to her character.
At the same time, it’s precisely Clint’s humanity that keeps the show grounded. The plot is rather basic, utilising action tropes like Eastern-European gangsters and jewellery heists. Moreover, it stands on the shoulders of Die Hard (1988) and Home Alone (1990) in order to nail the Christmas formula. Yet, in the midst of the expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) where recent entries like Eternals (2021) and Loki (2021-) deal with apocalyptic stakes, you might find a smaller-scale cat-and-mouse drama set across New York refreshing.
Although it’s easy to follow, the simplicity of the plot might make those with no emotional investment in the MCU want to switch off. It’s already been confirmed that other faces from the wider universe will show up at some point in the series and while this will please the Marvel faithful, it likely won’t interest new viewers, underlining the tough balancing act that established franchises must follow when creating new content.
As such, if you’re not a MCU enthusiast, then this probably won’t be the series that draws you in and convinces you to binge the studios’ mammoth back catalogue. However, if you’re waiting to tuck into your Spider-Man advent calendar or hang your Infinity Stone ornaments on the tree, this could be the content you need to put you in a merry mood.
Featured Image: IMDB
Episodes 1,2 & 3 of Hawkeye are available on Disney+, with subsequent episodes being released weekly