Hawkeye season 1: Clint Barton gets his time to shine and grow as a character

I have to admit, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Hawkeye as a character. Perhaps it’s how Jeremy Renner played him. Or perhaps it’s because he only had limited screen time in the movies and had to compete with superhumans and gods and other equally impressive individuals (at the end of the day, he’s just a man). Whatever the reason for my trepidation I went into this TV show not expecting a great deal and was pleasantly surprised.

In some ways, I shouldn’t have been that surprised. I knew Hailee Steinfeld was a big part of the story and I’m a fan. Her recent performance in Bumblebee (2018) showed us what she can do, particularly in a comedic sense. Here she plays Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), a gifted archer who crosses paths with Hawkeye, aka Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), when his Ronin equipment resurfaces at an auction and she steals it. (Ronin being Clint’s evil alter ego, in a manner of speaking.)

Much of this early plot stuff serves to bring Bishop and Barton together — him, the gruff and jaded hero, complete with battle scars, including acute hearing loss. Her… the bright, sparky and enthusiastic wannabe hero, although one that’s unaware of the true dangers involved in the hero game. They make for a compelling pair, and definitely teach each other things, in the way that mismatched couples do.

As the story develops they cross paths with the Tracksuit Mafia (a gang who wear dodgy tracksuits, of course). They’re led by Maya Lopez aka Echo, played by Alaqua Cox — a Native American actress who was born deaf and also has a prosthetic leg. It’s worth mentioning this, as these elements play a part in her story and interactions with Hawkeye and other characters.

As the plot moves along we also meet Black Widow assassin Yelena (Florence Pugh), first seen on the big screen in Black Widow (2021), where she played Natasha Romanoff’s (Scarlett Johansson) sister. Yelena blames Barton for Natasha’s death (in Avengers Endgame (2019)) and wants revenge.

In a way, Barton also blames himself. And much like Wandavision (2021) earlier this year, a story which dealt with Wanda’s grief following the death of her love, Vision — Hawkeye deals with Barton’s guilt around Natasha’s death in a way that allows the character to heal and move on.

Whether this means that this is the last time we’ll see Renner in the role, I cannot say. I feel that as long as he has interesting things to do, he may stick around. After all, there are plenty of Marvel TV shows on the way. It could be fun having him pop up in some of them here and there.

For me, reflecting on it, Hawkeye is one of the best TV shows Marvel have put out this year — on par with Wandavision. With Hawkeye, it told a clear story, one that was well plotted and unfolded nicely in intriguing and unexpected ways. It tied in closely with events following Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers Endgame (2019), particularly in terms of Clint’s emotional fallout. Plus it had some delightful archery-based moments, with Kate and Clint using an assortment of trick arrows in entertaining and inventive fashion.

I even quite enjoyed the Christmas setting (and I’m not a Christmas person).

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