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Hawkeye First Reviews: Hailee Steinfeld Hits the Bullseye in the MCU's Most Grounded Series

Critics say the MCU's latest series is a light-hearted, low-stakes return to basics that delivers big on action and engaging banter as it introduces Marvel's next big hero.

by | November 23, 2021 | Comments

The final Marvel series to hit Disney+ this year is Hawkeye, which will drop its first two episodes to Disney+ on Wednesday, November 24. Taking a break from the big-budget, high-concept, and explosive Avengers-themed programs to hit the platform thus far, the continuation of Clint Barton’s (Jeremy Renner) story takes things ground-level in New York City to catch up with the man since all that unfortunate Thanos stuff sent the world into a tizzy in Avengers: Endgame.

The basic gist of the series follows the man formerly known as Hawkeye as he strives to spend Christmas with his family. Unfortunately for him, former foes resurface, along with the traumas of the past, to get in the way of achieving his goal. To make matters worse, someone has decided to don his old Ronin costume and take up the vigilante mantle he left behind. That someone is newcomer Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), whose archery skills and young energy provide a worthy sidekick for the aging Avenger. Will he end up making it back to his wife and daughter in time to deck the halls?

Vera Farmiga, Tony Dalton, Florence Pugh, Fra Fee, Zahn McClarnon, and Brian d’Arcy James also star in the series, which is currently Fresh on the Tomatometer.

Expectations are always high when a new Marvel series hits television, but is this one another hit? Here’s what critics are saying about Hawkeye season 1:


HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO DISNEY+’S MARVEL LINE-UP?

Hailee Steinfeld in Hawkeye season 1

(Photo by Disney+)

Unlike previous Disney+ series, the stakes are low and street-level. The story is contained within New York City as Clint and Kate deal with local gangsters and crooked socialites. It’s actually refreshing to not concentrate on theories of how the series is connected to the next phase of MCU films. – Laura Sirkil, Empire Magazine

It starts off a little slow, and seems lower budget than previous Marvel Disney+ shows. – Grace Randolph, Beyond the Trailer

It’s a series that pales in scope to its predecessors. It seems as if the show is just the tiniest of specks on the ever-growing whiteboard that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As it turns out, Hawkeye is exactly what the MCU needs. – Adam Barnhardt, ComicBook.com

Much like The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, Hawkeye is tackling secondary storylines that it really doesn’t need to, and that makes me fearful that it could suffer from similarly undercooked conclusions further down the line. – Matt Purslow, IGN Movies

Hawkeye is not as ambitious as WandaVision, but it has a breezy quality that’s easy to get into. – Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic


WHAT’S THE OVERALL TONE OF THE SERIES?

Much of this series is inspired by the Matt Fraction run just by feel alone, and is something that fans of that storyline will totally geek out over. The MCU Clint Barton is not the same as the comic book Clint Barton, which is something long time fans know, but Marvel really succeeds at merging the two so that it works in Hawkeye. – Glen Weldon, NPR

Hawkeye feels like a lighthearted Christmas action romp. Call it “Die Hard With Exploding Arrows.” – Bob Strauss, San Francisco Chronicle

The Disney Plus Hawkeye is too beholden to the larger MCU as a guiding narrative force and generic house style of filming to truly find its own voice. – Caroline Framke, Variety

Quick-witted banter is thrown around as regularly as molotov cocktails, and cozy homes and snowy streets are more common than high-tech HQs. It’s grounded without being overly gritty, and while it leans on the MCU’s past it’s not too lore heavy. All of those things make the first two episodes of Hawkeye the most accessible MCU show yet. – Rosie Knight, Polygon

Hawkeye is a few different things. It’s a chance to spend more time with one of the lesser-known Avengers, it’s an origin story for an up-and-coming hero, and it’s a detective drama set amidst the backdrop of Christmas in New York City as the MCU adds yet another genre to its all-enveloping fold. Most importantly, though, it’s a Marvel series that doesn’t take itself too seriously — making the first two episodes unexpectedly fun. – Andrew Webster, The Verge

From the arch (heh) irreverent tone to the rounded, pastel artwork of the opening titles, everything about this show feels ripped right out of Matt Fraction and David Aja’s celebrated comic run in 2012. – Clint Worthington, Consequence


HOW ARE THE ACTION SEQUENCES?

Sometimes there is nothing like good old fashioned street level action, and that is exactly what Hawkeye delivers. Of course elaborate fight scenes and battles with alien creatures are fun, but there is something to be said about taking it to the ground as well. – Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky

Despite Marvel Studios not having a hand in helping develop the DefendersVerse on Netflix, there are some brutal hand-to-hand fights reminiscent of Daredevil. – Adam Barnhardt, ComicBook.com

There’s quite a bit of action and scrappy hand-to-hand combat reminiscent of the Netflix shows to enjoy throughout the episodes, particularly with the introduction of the amusing “bro”-ey tracksuit mafia. Steinfield’s Bishop really does immerse herself in the action, while Renner’s Barton is a trusty and experienced hand throughout the combat scenarios. – Nicola Austin, We Have a Hulk


HOW ARE JEREMY RENNER AND HAILEE STEINFELD?

Renner portrays the heartbreak Clint endured when he lost Natasha on Vormir in a gutwrenching way, and his soulful, sincere performance means the actor is able to make us fully buy into the hero’s struggle to carry on as normal while dealing with the emotional toll that grief is taking on him. – Josh Wilding, ComicBookMovie.com

Their classic “buddy cop” dynamic is fun to watch with Kate as the eager, bright-eyed rookie and Clint playing the part of the gruff and jaded veteran. – Joey Morona, Cleveland Plain Dealer

Steinfeld brings exactly what fans would expect to see out of a live-action Kate Bishop. It’s hard to shake the feeling that, years from now, we’ll look back at this casting and see it on the level of Robert Downey’s arrival as Tony Stark. Hailee Steinfeld is Kate Bishop, and she’s going to be your favorite superhero. – Adam Barnhardt, ComicBook.com


ANY FINAL THOUGHTS?

Hailee Steinfeld) and Jeremy Renner in HAWKEYE

(Photo by Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios)

​​While not employed thus far, the Hawkeye trailer does reveal that there will be trick arrows before it’s over. Yet unless that arsenal significantly improves the show’s payload, the guy who once said he couldn’t miss might rather ironically be associated with a Marvel series that conspicuously does. – Brian Lowry, CNN

​​Their quivers are packed with potential and this series is on target to be one of the best Disney+ has created so far. Grab one of Herman’s Hearty Slices, sit back and enjoy. Marvel’s Hawkeye is a can’t miss. – Elijah Montoya, Geeks of Color

This cheerful and action-packed series is off to a good start. – Austin Burke, Austin Burke/Flick Fan Nation

Hawkeye isn’t the year’s primo gift so much as the cheap socks or oversized t-shirt stuffed thoughtlessly into your stocking.- Ben Travers, IndieWire Chronicle

​​If you’re looking for a fun holiday spin on the vigilante trope that plants Marvel’s trajectory firmly back on the streets of New York City, this spirited series delivers. – Alicia Gilstorf, Tell-Tale TV

Hawkeye feels very much like a return to the old MCU, one not layered with too many characters or universe-ending concepts. Hawkeye, in a sense, is simple — stop the bad buys so that a dad can make it home for Christmas. – Herb Scribner, Deseret News (Salt Lake City)


Hawkeye premieres its first two episodes on Wednesday, November 24 on Disney+. The remaining four episodes will air each following Wednesday.

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