FULL SPOILERS AHEAD
We’re back, baby! Did you miss me? Don’t answer that. After taking a week off, Chwineka Watches is back to cover not one, but two episodes of Hawkeye, the newest Disney+ Marvel Cinematic Universe show! Set after Avengers: Endgame, the series sees the titular Hawkeye, Clint Barton (Mr. Jeremy Renner), seemingly having put his superhero life behind him, only to get wrapped up in a murder mystery thanks to the titular Hawkeye, Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), his biggest fan. Yes, even Hawkeye has fans. I really like Green Arrow–DC Comics’ archer superhero–so it can happen.
The first episode, “Never Meet Your Heroes,” starts with a flashback to 2012 New York City. Huh, I feel like some major event happened in the MCU in NYC that year… Oh well. We meet a young Kate Bishop and her parents, Eleanor (Vera Farmiga, AKA Lorraine Warren from The Conjuring series) and Derek (Brian d’Arcy James, AKA the President in X-Men: Dark Phoenix). But don’t get too attached to Derek, because he seemingly dies when the Chitarui attack the city and part of Kate’s penthouse is destroyed. Oh, right! 2012 was when The Avengers took place! Aliens almost kill Kate, but she’s saved by Hawkeye, creating an immediate hero worship. Flashforward to the present (whenever that is in the MCU after the 5 year time jump in Endgame) and Kate is a masterclass archer. She’s also a walking disaster. Her mom rightfully punishes her after an archery stunt led to the destruction of a clocktower–it’s a whole thing–and part of that punishment is attending a fundraiser gala. There she learns from Armand Duquesne III (Simon Callow*) that his nephew, Jack Duquesne (Tony Dalton), is planning on marrying her mother. Put a pin in Duquesne. Kate is suspicious of Jack, especially after seeing him and Armand III participate in a secret black market auction. One item up for sale is the Ronin suit that somebody (cough Clint cough) wore when killing a whole lot of criminals. But the auction is interrupted by the Russian Tracksuit Mafia bursting through a wall looking for… a watch from Avengers Tower? I’m sure that’s going to be important later. Kate dons the Ronin suit and kicks a moderate amount of ass before fleeing, running into a half-blind dog along the way. Although Kate hasn’t given the dog a name in the first two episodes, I’m just going to refer to him as Lucky the Pizza Dog, since he’s Lucky the Pizza Dog. Oh, and she finds Armand III dead in his mansion. It’s been a day. While that’s happening, Clint’s vacation in NYC with his family is interrupted by news that the Ronin has returned. He had made a lot of enemies wearing that suit, so he rushes to find out who’s under the hood this time. He beats up a bunch of tracksuits and rescues Ronin, only to immediately grab and unmask Kate. He’s beyond annoyed by all of this while she’s face to face with her hero.
Hide and Seek picks up right where Never Meet Your Heroes drops off. Clint rushes Kate back to her place, since they’ve made some enemies tonight. Problem is she stopped by her place in full Ronin costume earlier, so the Tracksuit Mafia knows where she lives AND who she is (her name is on the buzzer). Her apartment catches fire from some Molotov’s, so the duo retreat to Kate’s aunt’s apartment, a place no one would think to look for her. But oh no! The Ronin costume was left behind, and is missing when Clint goes back! He notices a LARP sticker on one of the firetrucks–Live Action Role-Playing, AKA throwing sandbags at your friends in the woods while shouting “Lightning bolt!!”–and sure enough one of the members is posting videos online in the Ronin costume. So Clint has to join the NYC Larpers for a day in order to get the suit back, a distraction that’s amusing enough that you almost forget how it’s filler. Clint corners the newest Ronin, a guy named Grills (Clayton English), and eventually gets the suit back after losing a one-on-one duel. Intentionally to boost Grills’ cred, but whatever. While that’s going on, Kate is suspecting Jack of murdering Armand III for his inheritance, going so far as to challenge him to a fencing duel to prove that he’s hiding some excellent swordsmanship, and therefore more than capable of lying to everyone around him. Swordsman-ship, you say? Sorry, getting ahead of myself. Back with Clint, he intentionally gets captured by the tracksuits to find out who their boss is, a plan that gets complicated when Kate tries to rescue him and gets captured as well. As for their boss, she appears to be deaf Native woman (played by Alaqua Cox). Although her name isn’t given yet, that’s Echo, a sometimes Avenger who wore the Ronin suit for a while and will supposedly be getting her own series in the near future. It all comes together…
I like the show so far. Kate is a fun character and it’s going to be interesting to see how she develops over the course of the next 4 episodes. I really do believe this is the end of Clint’s story and the beginning of her’s, and not just because the MCU has been collecting Young Avengers members. For reference (and something like the tenth time I’ve talked about it), there’s Hawkeye/Kate; Patriot/Eli Bradley, the grandson of Isaiah Bradley in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier; Wiccan/Billy Kaplan and Speed/Tommy Shepherd, who in the comics are the reincarnated sons of Wanda but in the MCU showed up in WandaVision; Stature/Cassie Lang, the daughter of Scott Lang from Ant-Man; and Iron Lad who is a young version of Kang/Immortus/He Who Remains from Loki. All we’re missing is Hulkling, the son of a skrull princess and Captain Mar-Vell, but I’m not giving up hope we see something like him in the upcoming Secret Invasion series.
The series as a whole is directly inspired by the Hawkeye series by writer Matt Fraction and artist David Aja from 2012 to 2015. It’s the source material for just about everything in this series. It had Clint and Kate trying to see eye-to-eye, made difficult because he’s “a human crapsack” and she’s kind of a disaster herself. The main bad guys are a mob of “Tracksuit Draculas” who say bro way too much. It introduced Lucky the Pizza Dog. It introduced Grills, who has a very different role in the comics and I’m bracing myself for a tragic end to his character. It reinforced the idea that Clint is deaf–explained in this series by him being too close to too many explosions. And the comic is so good, you guys. You really ought to read it. There’s an entire issue from Lucky’s point of view, and it won actual awards for how good it was. The last page of the penultimate issue (#21) gets me all choked up every time I see it, and I can’t even explain it without too much context and spoilers. It just comes highly recommended from everyone.
One character who didn’t appear in the Hawkeye series was Jacques Duquesne, AKA Swordsman, a sometimes-villain, sometimes-Avenger who… His story is kind of short, but so bizarre that I’m saving it for another day. Nah, today I’m talking about the Hawkeye series and another moment in the show that made me smile because of possible comic book connections.
I did find it kind of amusing that Clint and Kate first met in an alley over a mistaken identity. See, in the comics Clint was dead for a while after Wanda went insane in Avengers: Disassembled (2004). Shortly after that, the Young Avengers formed in the titular Young Avengers series (2005-6). Then Clint came back to life when Wanda continued to be insane for House of M (2005), but he stayed hidden until Captain America died at the end of Civil War (2006-7), which I’ve talked about back in Captain America: Civil War. The Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America comic (2007) was 5 issues based on the 5 stages of grief, and issue #3 had Clint reveal his not-dead status to Iron Man, who offered the archer a chance to be the new Captain America. While reluctantly trying the costume and shield out, they ran into Kate and Eli, which shocked Cap Clint when he learned that Kate was going by Hawkeye. Turns out it was a sign of respect and bestowed unto her by Cap Steve, so he allows it. Immediately after this Clint puts on the Ronin costume for the first time in The New Avengers #27 (2007) to hide his resurrection from the world, making him the first person out of, like, 5 or so to wear those ninja pajamas. Anyway, Clint and Kate met up for real later and agreed to both be called Hawkeye. So is this series named after him? Or her? Who knows! But probably actually her.
Oh, and in The New Avengers #26, Clint sleeps with Wanda, who doesn’t remember her past. It’s later revealed to have been a robot version of her, which I’m pretty sure still gets rubbed in his face to this day.
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* Simon Callow has such a minor role that talking about his other films seemed a bit much, but he had a forgettable part in The Curse of King Tut and was also in Thunderpants, a film about a boy who farts a lot, featuring Rupert Grint, Stephen Fry, and Paul Giamatti. Yes, I will cover that some day.