Taking major inspiration from Matt Fraction and David Aja’s superb 2012 Hawkeye comic book run, the latest series in Disney’s so far excellent run of MCU-based shows is off to a pretty good start.

The first episode kicks off with a flashback to 2012 and the Battle of New York – a traumatic in-universe event that’s been an absolute boon for writers of new MCU material and a handy shortcut for new characters to become involved in the tapestry of the superhero universe – where a young Kate Bishop is saved from the Chitauri (from a distance) by one of Hawkeye’s famous bullseye shots, setting her hero worship in motion as well as a desire to emulate the Avenger. Fast forward to the present day and Kate (Hailee Steinfeld) is an archery expert with a slight self-destructive streak and a dislike of her stepfather to be, who may be tangled up in some unsavoury business – and dragging Kate’s mother into it too. Meanwhile, Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye – aka Clint Barton – is in New York with his kids, checking out the sights and doing fun stuff with his kids for Christmas. It’s not long before Kate is embroiled in a situation involving Clint’s Endgame-period Ronin persona which sees him heading for a confrontation with Kate.

As you can probably gather from that synopsis, it’s a pretty exposition-heavy episode, but it does have quite a bit of ground to cover in getting us up to speed with Kate’s status quo and Clint’s post-Endgame state of mind. An early highlight shows Clint at the theatre with his kids for Rogers The Musical, a hilariously on-point recreation of a big budget Broadway show – featuring the genuinely amusing song-and-dance ensemble number, ‘I Can Do This All Day’, which is somewhat too soon for Clint, with its factual inaccuracies and depiction of his recently departed best friend, Natasha Romanoff.

It’s a good introduction to Kate Bishop – and Hailee Steinfeld is perfect in the role. The Tracksuit Mafia bros from Fraction and Aja’s run make their debut here too, as does Lucky the Pizza Dog (wasting no time in getting that food-related part of his name). The title sequence is a fantastic recreation of the style of Aja’s covers in animated form – and a fantastic storytelling montage in its own right, catching us up cleverly on Kate growing up before we jump into the present day – but it’s disappointing to find out that he’s not being properly compensated by Disney for his part in inspiring the show’s look and content. Fraction’s name appears in the credits as ‘Consulting Producer’, which implies that he’s involved in some level and being paid, but Aja’s is nowhere to be found. It does leave a bad taste in the mouth, particularly as Disney have clearly spent an awful lot of money to bring Hawkeye to the screen; much like the other MCU series so far, it’s clearly been made on a lavish budget and stands tall next to MCU movies from a production value standpoint – there’s no doubt that Aja could be properly compensated by the multi-billion dollar entertainment behemoth and the cost would be a mere drop in the ocean for them.

It does feel a little disjointed at first though, with the focus mostly on Kate and her family – Barton’s story drifts in and out around it, with little of note occurring to drive anything forward. It does, however, give some good insight into Hawkeye’s image and how the public react to him – as well as how he copes with the attention. Seeing the characters come together should help to make the two narratives mesh a bit better in upcoming episodes, however. That said, it’s good to come back down to more ground level Marvel action after the more fantastical Loki and What If…? shows – and Renner’s hero is long overdue more time in the spotlight, which will no doubt expand further after the more Kate Bishop-focused opening episode.

With episode 2 also immediately available on Disney Plus today, it won’t be long before you see a review right here on the blog – watch this space!

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