After a slow rollout during the beginning stages of the pandemic, Marvel has released some big hits this year. Shows like “WandaVision” and “Loki” graced screens in the early months of 2021, and “Black Widow” and “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” are some recent movies that have captivated audiences. Just in December, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” created a storm, raking in over a billion dollars in profit and swiftly becoming one of the highest-grossing Marvel movies of all time.
In the midst of all this buzz, how can a show like “Hawkeye” hope to compete for the limelight? After all, it does seem like “Hawkeye” had a quiet release in comparison to Marvel projects like “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”
Even before Hawkeye got his own show, he has often been overlooked as the weakest Avenger and someone not worth paying attention to. Well, “Hawkeye” begs to differ. It’s an extremely well-done show that somehow artfully blends the chaotic world of Marvel with Christmas. It’s a show that reveals how more mundane heroes should be cherished just as much as flashy, godlike ones.
“Hawkeye” Nails its Humor and Christmas Theme
Even if you’re someone who’s not that into Marvel, “Hawkeye” will still be entertaining. It’s not so wrapped up in the main story arcs of Phase Four that you would be lost without watching all of Marvel’s other projects; however, watching “Avengers: Endgame” and “Black Widow” beforehand will help educate viewers on the “whys” of the conflicts and the traumas within the show. But other than these two movies, people can sit back and enjoy “Hawkeye” as a show that stands on its own two feet.
As a brief overview, “Hawkeye” follows the journey of Kate Bishop — played by Hailee Steinfeld — a college student who lost her father at a young age during the New York alien invasion seen in the first “Avengers” film. During this traumatic event, Bishop spots none other than Hawkeye, bravely fighting off the aliens. After such heroism, Hawkeye, who is played by Jeremey Renner, becomes Bishop’s idol. Bishop grows up to be an excellent archer and fighter, and sure enough, her path eventually crosses with Hawkeye’s in New York.
While this may sound convoluted at the moment, it’s really not. When you boil “Hawkeye” down to its roots, it’s a heartwarming show about a young woman who wants to be a hero, just like her biggest idol. One day, when fate causes their paths to cross, she finally gets the opportunity to make a difference and do some good in the world.
The show’s heartwarming quality — something that’s spurred by its simple yet touching plotline — is also elevated by some quality humor and Christmas themes. Humor-wise, Bishop herself is the main source of laughs. She has a quirky, lovable disposition that immediately hooks viewers. She’s relatable, sarcastic and surprisingly clumsy at times for a skilled archer; such a character is a breath of fresh air in a universe full of great, serious beings and catastrophic events.
Surprisingly, another source of laughs is one of the main antagonists in “Hawkeye”: the Tracksuit Mafia. As you can tell by this group’s name, “Hawkeye” doesn’t make the mistake of taking itself too seriously. The show is not afraid to poke fun at itself, evident with how it ridicules the mafia that ends up chasing Bishop and Hawkeye around New York. The Tracksuit Mafia is essentially a bunch of Russian dudes in awesome, matching red tracksuits.
They mess up their boss’s orders consistently and call everyone “bro” in thick Russian accents. One mafia member even ends up asking Bishop for some relationship advice as she’s held hostage. Yes, it’s a scene that’s as ridiculous as it sounds, and “Hawkeye” is filled with moments like this. But these events are not overused or corny; instead, they’re genuinely hilarious scenes.
There are still more points of comedic relief in “Hawkeye.” Another lovable character is Yelena, played by Florence Pugh. She’s every bit as quirky as Bishop — except that she’s a bloodthirsty Russian assassin, of course. Nevertheless, Yelena and Bishop’s interactions become highly anticipated moments of pure joy and laughs. Their banter feels natural and tangible, which are also qualities that perfectly represent “Hawkeye” overall.
Along with top-notch humor, “Hawkeye” takes on a central Christmas theme. The festive vibe doesn’t really need to be present; Christmastime doesn’t have any direct function in the plot aside from providing its setting. However, the Christmas theme somehow meshes perfectly with the superhero, action-show archetype. The blend makes for a novel experience that makes “Hawkeye” all the more special.
For example, Hawkeye’s rush to make it home for Christmas with his family makes for a slightly more impactful storyline than if he was rushing to make it home any other day. There’s just something about Christmastime and family: No one wants to be alone for Christmas, so Bishop and Hawkeye fighting through seas of bad guys to make it to their families on time for the holidays makes for a more relatable, connected experience.
On top of the interlaced Christmas and family themes that contribute to the heartwarming charm of “Hawkeye,” it’s also aesthetically pleasing to watch people duke it out in front of the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and ice rink. There are decorations, Christmas parties and snow falling. It all makes for a winter wonderland atmosphere that one wouldn’t expect in a Marvel superhero show, but it totally works.
It succeeds all the more given the calculated release of the show’s six episodes during the holidays. Everyone’s in a festive mood, so watching shows that have some sort of Christmas aspect makes for a more satisfying watch right now. This is just one reason why you shouldn’t hold off on “Hawkeye” or put it to the side — it’s the most fun time to watch it.
You Don’t Need Thunder in Your Veins To Be a Hero
Despite the overall lightheartedness of “Hawkeye,” it does still have some serious notes and impactful messages. The overarching theme is the one that desperately needs saying in the Marvel universe: You don’t need superpowers to be a hero.
Yes, it’s cool to watch Thor strike people with thunder or to watch Hulk smash. But it’s equally important to recognize the heroes who don’t have special abilities. Hawkeye has been the emblem of this message since the dawn of the Avengers in 2012: He is continuously pushed aside as the least helpful Avenger, but has been a discreet, steady beacon of support and hope through all these years.
In fact, it’s honestly more impressive that he’s managed to survive so many insane battles while being completely human. Looking toward the future of the Marvel universe, it seems that Bishop will follow in Hawkeye’s footsteps as the underdog hero that everyone needs.