Hawkeye Is Being Set Up As A Very Special Hero In His Marvel Series, And It’s Awesome To See

SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains light spoilers about the first two episodes of Hawkeye. If you have not yet watched the show, proceed at your own risk!

When Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton a.k.a. Hawkeye made his legit Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in The Avengers (not counting his cameo in Thor), the character became, to a certain degree, a punchline. Beyond the fact that he spends more of the blockbuster as a villain than hero, his general worthiness of being a part of the titular team was drawn into question. During the Battle of New York, he stood alongside a super soldier, an armor-clad technological genius, an impossibly strong monster, a lightning-conjuring god, and a spy who began training to kill in pre-pubescence… and his skill was being really good at a sport strongly associated with summer camp. Audiences didn’t reject the character, and Hawkeye certainly earned fans… but people laughed.

To Marvel’s credit, the franchise has since made big strides to redress the character in each of his appearances, from his bond with the Maximoff twins in Avengers: Age of Ultron, to his excellent Team Cap moves in Captain America: Civil War, to his emotional devastation in Avengers: Endgame. His power set hasn’t changed, but his role in the MCU has certainly felt more and more natural over time as we’ve seen him repeatedly save the world. He’s just a guy (a hawk-guy, if you prefer), but he’s earned his title as one of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

That’s a pretty damn special thing when you think about it. Hawkeye’s Avengers teammates all experienced one-in-a-billion life-changing events that turned them into the spectacular superheroes that they are, and Clint Barton is just a person with enough passion and determination to be considered their colleague. Up until now, that hasn’t been something that the franchise has addressed in any way, but it appears to be a centerpiece at the heart of the new Hawkeye series on Disney+, and in the wake of its two-episode premiere, it appears that fact is quickly being established as one of the most important aspects of the show.

Kate Bishop’s Hawkeye fan-hood clearly runs deeper than just him saving her life.

This naturally starts with Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop, who we first meet in Hawkeye via a flashback to 2012 and the aforementioned Battle of New York. The girl faces death as Loki’s Chitauri army blows a hole in her family’s apartment, but she is saved because a certain Avenger with a bow and a quiver full of trick arrows annihilates a threatening alien from a great distance. Clearly this has a major influence on Kate’s appreciation of Hawkeye, but it’s what she does with that appreciation that drives home the specialness of her favorite hero.

Had Kate been saved by a Thor-generated lightning strike or a sizable Hulk smash, she couldn’t have dedicated her life to becoming an Asgardian or getting a proper dose of gamma radiation. When she looks at Clint Barton, she sees a hero whom she doesn’t just have to look up to – she can emulate him. It’s what instantly drives her to pick up a bow following her father’s funeral (not to mention fencing and gymnastics) and become the self-proclaimed world’s greatest archer. To paraphrase a scene from Hawkeye Episode 2, she is bought and sold on the inspiration that his journey offers, even if the guy’s actual energy is more about cynicism.

Clint Barton’s LARPing adventure drills some important things home.

Of course, Kate Bishop is basically the extreme version of what can happen as an end result of the inspiration that Hawkeye provides (and there’s certainly no questioning the leg up she is given thanks to her mother’s resources). Kate is clearly destined for superhero glory, but that’s not where it begins and ends. The specialness of what Hawkeye is and what he represents has layers, and that’s very much illustrated in Clint’s experience LARPing as a means to get his Ronin costume back.

Grills, played by Clayton English, puts it in pretty clear terms when Clint confronts him about the stolen suit: unlike Kate, he’s never going to get the actual opportunity to be a superhero in real life, and LARPing is as close to that experience as he can get – especially if that means taking down an Avenger in a trial by combat. We haven’t really gotten to see it in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before, but Hawkeye is very much the hero of the people, and that’s being wonderfully driven home in the Disney+ series.

Where it goes from this point on the show isn’t wholly clear, though it does seem like Hawkeye is barreling toward a circumstance where the eponymous hero’s position as inspiration and role model is called into question – specifically with the revelation that it was Clint Barton operating as Ronin during the Blip and violently killing a whole lot of people. Assuming that’s something Kate eventually learns in the show, that will be a tough thing for Clint to bounce back from in his relationship with her, but perhaps it will be a further recognition of the Avengers’ human-ness that starts to heal the wound.

Needless to say, we’re excited to see where it all heads in the coming weeks, and next up is Episode 3 – which will be available to stream on Disney+ at midnight PST/3am EST on Wednesday, December 1. Head back here to CinemaBlend to find more reactions after the new Hawkeye premieres, and to discover everything else that is coming from the Marvel Cinematic Universe on the small screen in the coming months and years, check out our Upcoming Marvel TV guide.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.