The bar for Marvel Studios’ Disney+ series was set incredibly high with shows like WandaVision, Loki, and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. However, fans of Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye run from 2012-2016 will be very happy with this series. That run of issues reinvigorated the character of Clint Barton and is the basis for a lot of the style of this show’s first episode. The focus here isn’t just on Clint Barton; we get a good portion of the first episode dedicated to Kate Bishop and her family dynamics. What starts as a simple story of returning to the family for the holidays turns quickly into a criminal conspiracy filled with intrigue and mystery.

Hawkeye stars Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton, Hailee Steinfeld as Kate Bishop, and Vera Farmiga, Fra Fee, Tony Dalton, Zahn McClarnon, Brian d’Arcy James, and newcomer Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez. It’s directed by Rhys Thomas and created by Jonathan Igla, who also wrote the first episode. Hawkeye is a definite change from the tone and scale of the previous Marvel/Disney+ series. The first set of shows this year have all had stakes from Earth-shaking to Universe-altering. This time around, it’s a much smaller scale, and it benefits Hawkeye greatly. Clint is trying to get home for the holidays, and Kate is trying to find out what shady dealings her mom’s fiancee is up to. That’s it.

The Cast Of Hawkeye Makes It So Great

We all know Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye at this point. Even if he’s been the least fleshed-out Avenger, this show is his time to shine. It’s also a series that goes more into the mentor-type role he started in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Surprisingly, the most down-to-earth and wise of all the Avengers is the guy with a bow and arrow. For fans of Renner and Hawkeye, you won’t be disappointed with his role in the show. But the real highlight of these first two episodes is the dynamic between Hailee Steinfeld and Renner as Kate Bishop and Clint.

According to the press conference for the show, Hailee Steinfeld was the first and only choice for Kate Bishop. After seeing the show, it’s easy to see why Marvel wanted her so bad for the role. She portrays the character with wonder, doubt, bravery, hilarity, and more. She’s more than capable in a fight, but she’s all of us if we were thrust into a criminal underworld with an Avenger. Kate has unharnessed potential as a hero. She’s sloppy but gets the job done. The character work here is excellent, and you see the full range with Steinfeld’s performance as Kate.

Side Characters Add To The Street-Level Allure

This show isn’t all just Kate and Clint, though. It’s made by the characters surrounding them. Vera Farmiga and Tony Dalton as Eleanor Bishop and Jack Duqensne are what drive Kate in the show. She’s wary of Jack and the control he has over her mom. Her mother is protective of Kate but also grows frustrated with the antics and issues. Dalton plays Jack like the slimeball he is in the comics. It’s a fantastic performance that sets up, at least for the first two episodes, our antagonist. The side-villains are pretty hilarious, but they’re more nameless henchmen than anything else.

It’s nice to see a more human element to the overall story here. Even with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Bucky and Sam are still mega-heroes with powers or fantastic suits of armor. Here, Kate has a bow, Clint has a bow, and no one has super-strength or heightened abilities. It’s a refreshing departure with the stakes of the show being so seemingly low.

Just In Time For The Holidays

Hawkeye has heart, a great dynamic between its cast, and the setting and time of the show all meld together for one of the better first two episodes that Marvel has produced. In previous shows, there’s more setup and world-building needed. With Hawkeye, we already know Clint Barton. We’ve seen what his character has gone through; it’s all about Kate Bishop. Luckily, Bishop is relatable and easy to root for here. She makes mistakes, but they’re the kind we all would make if put into her situation. She’s one of the most realistic and flawed characters that we’ve seen in the Marvel Disney+ shows.

Hawkeye surely gets broader and more menacing with its villains in later episodes. Still, it provides a great starting point for a true Marvel holiday experience for the first two episodes. Hawkeye streams on Disney+ this Wednesday, November 24th, and has new episodes every Wednesday after that.

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