Much like a certain arrow shooting Avenger, I have returned after a brief hiatus just in time for the holidays. You may have thought that it was too early for Christmas movies when Hallmark kicked off their lineup of holiday films earlier this month (does the Hallmark channel exist outside of the months of November and December?) but it’s definitely not too soon for a Christmas themed MCU installment. I’m sure the decision to set this show during the holidays definitely will not spark any Die Hard-esque debate about whether or not it counts as a “Christmas show”.
“Hawkeye” begins back in 2012 during the Chitauri invasion of New York. A young Kate Bishop overhears her parents fighting about money, only to be interrupted by those pesky aliens. During the battle she witnesses Clint Barton standing tall, firing arrows at the Chitauri and saving her life in the process. This pivotal moment inspires her after the battle to become the best archer she possibly can. In the course of the battle, Kate’s father is apparently killed. I say “apparently” because we don’t actually see him die and in Marvel movies characters “die” and come back all the time, so color me skeptical.
Fast forward to Kate in college. She demonstrates her archery skill plus a knack for B&E and general mischief-making. When she gets home Kate learns that her mother is engaged to Jack Duquesne in what has apparently been a whirlwind romance and Kate is immediately skeptical of her soon-to-be stepfather. She accompanies her mother to a charity fundraiser, encounters Armand III, Jack’s uncle, and follows the pair to a secret black market auction.
In the meantime, Clint is doing his best to enjoy Christmas in New York with his children. I’m not entirely clear on the timeline here, all I know is that it seems like his kids grew up ridiculously fast. Suffice to say that time is a bit fuzzy in the MCU, even without a wizard and a green stone. When we first see Clint he is in the audience for “Rogers: The Musical”, an absurd, ridiculous, over-the-top Broadway musical about the Avengers that I would absolutely pay good money to see.
The auction is interrupted by a bombing and masked men searching for a watch. After Kate takes advantage of the mayhem to steal the Ronin suit from the auction, survives a scuffle with the Tracksuit Mafia (I know the MCU has some goofy names but… really?) and rescues the precious Pizza Dog, Clint sees someone on the news wearing his old murderin’ costume and realizes this is all very bad. Kate decides to investigate Armand III, only to find him dead in his own home. While fleeing she is attacked by the Tracksuit Mafia again and saved by Clint’s intervention. Kate is starstruck by her favorite Avenger, but Clint demands to know why a child is wearing the costume of a vigilante he would rather forget.
“Hawkeye” feels like one of the most overt nods to a future “Young Avengers” team that we have gotten so far. Other characters that could potentially join the team have been introduced or made cameos, but this series is specifically about Kate Bishop’s rise to hero status. Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanov, and Tony Stark made their dramatic exits from the Avengers in “Endgame”, but Clint, an ordinary human with a bow and arrow, has managed to stick around. In the first couple episodes of “Hawkeye” we catch up with him in semi-retirement trying to enjoy Christmas with his children and dealing with the physical effects of being a human hero in the MCU. He gives off a real Murtaugh vibe.
There are plenty of threads to follow from this first episode. Kate needs to come into her own as a hero and unravel the mystery of her mother’s business, Jack’s angle, Armand’s death, and how she fits into it all. Hawkeye needs to stop running from his past as Ronin and confront the killing spree he went on during the Snap. Most importantly, we need to know how Pizza Dog fits into the MCU, and the role this very good boy will play throughout Phase 4.