Martin Carr reviews the fourth episode of Marvel’s Hawkeye…
This may be the best show Marvel has ever done. No arguments, no debates and no room for naysayers. As it creeps into a fourth episode with no real threat, but a whole bunch of on-screen chemistry between Hailee Steinfield and Jeremy Renner, something starts to happen. Hints of an overarching villain have already been mooted, while our leading man has experienced combat flashbacks. However, in a riveting forty minutes of understated Avengers: Endgame entertainment, Hawkeye acquires its own star status.
This is the first show that feels rooted in an emotional landscape audiences can connect with. The dynamic that has developed between Kate and Clint feels robust, while their professional relationship is oddly interdependent. She is allowing him to both re-connect with buried emotions and address Avengers-level epiphanies with a smile. For his part, Clint represents a strong male presence that sits between the real and imagined. Where their relationship gets interesting is in the realisation that superheroes are as fallible as everyone else. A realisation that not only bursts the Kate Bishop bubble of adolescent naivety, but proves dramatically crucial going forward.
Murderers, assassins and shady family members are secondary to a grounded relationship which keeps people engaged. It feels like the first time in a while that Marvel have been driven by character rather than spectacle. Familiarity breeds contempt apparently, which is why Hawkeye has the lowest viewing figures of any small screen effort thus far. Ironically, Hawkeye is the one fans should be paying attention to, rather than avoiding like the plague.
Jeremy Renner is really doing some solid work here, providing a tangible link back to Avengers: Endgame, which some still consider Marvel’s greatest achievement. Emotional through lines are delicately handled, repercussions are touched on, and a real sense of threat has returned into the MCU. This all works because Kate Bishop is the perfect foil, experiencing everything through a rose-tinted window of inexperience.
Action set pieces are pertinent, on point, and most importantly progressive. There is very little fat on this series in terms of narrative and Hawkeye remains genuinely gripping. Meanwhile, with the arrival of a familiar face late on, which may see things turn tragic, audiences are guaranteed to stay tuned as the stakes ramp up in this post Snap scenario.
Whatever happens in the remaining two episodes, there is no doubt that Hawkeye has made a significant impact. As his past catches up to him and enemies emerge from all quarters, there is the distinct impression that Clint is being called to account. Meaning that when redemption comes, it will be bittersweet at best.