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SYFY WIRE reviews

Does Hawkeye hit its mark? Critics say Renner and Steinfeld nail the bullseye in new Marvel series

Hawkeye premieres on Disney+ with its first two episodes Wednesday, Nov. 24.

By Josh Weiss
Hawkeye Still

Critics aren't sugar coating anything when they call Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, "the most boring Avenger." Compared to an angry green radiation monster, a thawed super-soldier from World War II, and a literal space god from another planet, a regular guy with a quiver full of arrows isn't exactly that mind-blowing.

Luckily, Mr. Barton (played by Jeremy Renner) isn't at all boring in his own TV series on Disney+. With the show premiering tomorrow, reviewers are finally able to share their thoughts on the first two episodes (set to drop at the same time as a pre-Thanksgiving treat). As expected, the first pair of installments have a lot of table setting to do, but there are plenty of bright spots, particularly a schmaltzy Captain America Broadway musical and the thing that fans will be mainly tuning in for: the mismatched dynamic between the somewhat jaded Barton and his wide-eyed protégé, Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld).

Unlike WandaVision and Loki, the stakes in Hawkeye are as street-level as they come. This overt lack of other dimensions and timelines seems to be a refreshing element for critics after all the multiversal mayhem featured in other corners of the MCU. The story is set in the run-up to Christmas when Clint, just wanting to spend the holiday with his family, finds himself under attack from a horde of enemies leftover from his days as Ronin. Kate, who is his biggest fan, is his only shot at staying alive.

Vera Farmiga (Eleanor Bishop), Tony Dalton (Jack Duquesne), Alaqua Cox (Maya Lopez/Echo), and Zahn McClarnon (William Lopez) round out the cast. The show currently holds an 86 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

At the moment, the show is sitting at a fresh 86 percent on Rotten Tomatoes when all reviews are tallied. Which is pretty great! But worth noting, it's also the lowest yet for a Marvel original on Disney+.

See what critics are saying below...

"The series is welcoming to newcomers in a way that other Marvel Disney+ shows, like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, have struggled to accomplish. Any necessary exposition is baked into the dialogue or the setting, and the main narrative prioritizes character development and chemistry over intra-franchise connective tissue. You could probably enjoy the buddy comedy action beats of Hawkeye without much caring about what’s happening in the rest of the MCU, though all those Easter eggs can feel like pointed invitations to start." -Angie Han, The Hollywood Reporter

"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 as Fraction’s “Hawkeye” once did. And in the first two episodes, at least, Kate and Clint barely get enough time together onscreen to fully develop the affectionately snarky back and forth that made them such a compelling pair in the comics." -Caroline Framke, Variety

"Hawkeye really shines when Barton and Bishop get to play off each other, as Barton is the cynical hero who has seen it all, having to face the sincerity of Bishop. Together, they have a wonderful dynamic that plays with the idealized version of heroes versus the truth about heroes, all while the two engage in some excellent banter." -Ross Bonaime, Collider

"Hawkeye is off to a good start, almost entirely due to Hailee Steinfeld’s fun and energetic Kate Bishop. In a universe full of likable characters, she instantly soars to the upper echelon, and helps make a show about the most boring Avenger genuinely joyful. The surrogate father-daughter relationship between her and Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton may be a tropey foundation, but it really does work here, and paves the way for the oft-dismissed archer to evolve into a much more engaging character." -Matt Purslow, IGN

"Not everything about Hawkeye works — its serious moments can come off a little heavy-handed, like some 'Thanos was right' graffiti in a bathroom, and I’m not fully sold on the Christmas theme just yet — but its first two episodes leave a solid initial impression. Like the best of the MCU on Disney+ so far, including WandaVision and LokiHawkeye stands on its own just enough to largely avoid superhero fatigue." -Andrew Webster, The Verge

Hawkeye is clearly more concerned with setting up Kate Bishop for future MCU phases than creating a problem worthy of two heroes’ time. And at six hours, it’s certainly not worthy of yours. There are better ways to make the most of this holiday season, even if it’s just begging Marvel to stop using such lavish boxes for the dinkiest of gifts. It doesn’t take much shaking to tell what’s inside isn’t what we’re hoping for." -Ben Travers, IndieWire

"Hawkeye is still about superheroes. It’s still set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And there’s a chance that, after the first two episodes, a new villain or plotline will tear the fabric of reality apart. But for now, the show is about two people — one an idealistic newcomer, the other a practical veteran — debating, while fighting off bad guys, whether they should work to live or live to work. That’s a delightfully human (and pertinent) question to explore, and its answer thus far is deeply human as well." -Shirley Li, The Atlantic

Hawkeye premieres on Disney+ with its first two episodes tomorrow — Wednesday, Nov. 24.