Synopsis: Two years after saving half of the entire universe in Avengers: Endgame, Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) is looking to reconnect with his kids by taking them on a trip to New York for Christmas. Everything changes when his path crosses with Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), an expert archer posing as Barton’s alter-ego Ronin.
Breakdown: It’s finally here: the eighth MCU project in 2021 alone. Let that statement sink in for a moment. This year already we’ve gotten WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki, Black Widow, What If…?, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and The Eternals. We still have Spider-Man: No Way Home left; and that doesn’t even take into consideration the is-it-in-the-MCU sequel Venom: Let There Be Carnage. That is a lot of MCU goodness to get through in one year.
Something that Marvel has done really well, this year particularly, is giving each project a unique voice and a specific reason to exist. WandaVision paid homage to sitcom history; Black Widow was a gritty thriller; Shang-Chi explored the fantastical side of the MCU; Loki blew open the multiverse; and The Eternals… existed. So, Hawkeye, a show about arguably the most vanilla and forgettable character in the MCU thus far, really needs to do a lot to stand out.
Though this is a pilot episode, there is a lot of promise here. It is interesting that this takes place two years after the events of Avengers: Endgame. I liked the hints of Barton struggling with the trauma from what happened during that film. It is also a really nice touch to give Barton a disability with a hearing aid, showcasing the thing that makes him stand out in a group of gods, superhumans and aliens–he is human and vulnerable.
I also really enjoyed the introduction of Kate Bishop, and how it tied into the events of the first Avengers movie. I’m a sucker for when shows and movies go back to familiar events and show us what was happening from different character’s perspectives, so I really enjoyed this opening sequence. I also really liked how a lot of exposition about Kate’s character and her drive and talent were showcased in the title sequence, so we didn’t have to waste a whole episode showing how she got to be so good at what she does.
The episode suffered a little bit from pilot-itis, a real term that I didn’t just make up. There is still a lot of exposition and a lot of new characters to meet. Everyone in the cast does a fine job, but this really is Kate Bishop’s show, and Steinfeld absolutely crushes it in the role. I can already tell that there is going to be insane chemistry between her and Barton, and can’t wait to see those two interact even more.
Verdict: This might just be the best pilot episode in a Disney Plus MCU show since Loki‘s. It even feels unique and different because it is so ground-level and realistic; plus there is the added twist of it taking place during Christmas, giving the episode some thematic flair. This is the most assured the MCU has been in its Disney Plus shows, and I hope it doesn’t fall into the same trap as every other series that ultimately did not stick the landing. With everything rumored to be coming in future episodes, this might just be the best thing the MCU has done on the small screen yet. Time will tell.
Mark Pereira is a senior writer for Boss Rush Network. He loves all video games, but his top three favorites are Skyward Sword, Super Mario 3D World and Batman: Arkham Asylum. You can find him on Twitter where he’s usually talking about Nintendo, video games, movies, and TV shows.
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