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Clint Barton Ditches His Signature Bow-and-Arrows in the First Two Episodes of ‘Hawkeye’

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Editor’s Note: This review contains spoilers for “Hawkeye.”

Continuing its highly popular Disney+ series lineup, Marvel released the first two episodes of “Hawkeye” on Nov. 24. In this new series, viewers are introduced to 22-year-old Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) — a master archer and elegantly skilled fighter expected to take on the mantle of ‘Hawkeye’ in future Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) projects.

The first episode, “Never Meet Your Heroes,” is delivered vividly similar to that of “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.” It lays the foundation for the series, while illustrating Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) and Bishop’s separate priorities before bringing the two together by the end of the episode. It also outlines the theme of redemption and forgiveness that Barton is so desperately seeking in order to fully commit to retiring his identity as the infamous Avenger ‘Hawkeye’.

Photo provided by Hawkeye @hawkeyeofficial/Twitter

While having read the comics is not necessary in understanding the events portrayed throughout the series, it is crucial to have seen all MCU films that include the character of Barton. The most pivotal films being 2019’s “Avengers: Endgame” and 2012’s “The Avengers” — the film that first introduced Barton as ‘Hawkeye.’ The series begins with a scene from “The Avengers,” establishing Barton as Bishop’s role model as viewers see that he saved her from being killed by the Chitauri — an army ordered to assist Loki in conquering Earth and stealing the Tesseract. 

Photo provided by Hawkeye @hawkeyeofficial/Twitter

Both this episode and the second, “Hide and Seek,” are emotionally-driven and packed with action, immediately allowing viewers to become both heavily invested in the show and attached to the characters. Similar to Disney+’s “WandaVision” and “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” the series also includes comedic elements and potentially foreshadows upcoming villains in the MCU, such as Bishops future step-father Jack Duquesne (Tony Dalton). 

The premise follows life after “Avengers: Endgame” and the detrimental toll Barton will face from his dark past as Ronin — the identity he had acquired to mirror the trauma he endured from the “blipping” of his wife and children by Thanos in “Avengers: Endgame.” 

Thanks to the heroism Barton exhibited during the battle of New York against the Chitauri, Bishop sought out archery and became an active student in the world of martial arts. 

“I need a bow and arrow,” Bishop says to her mom at her dad’s funeral.

With the goal of becoming protector of her family, “Hawkeye” will undoubtedly feature her as the primary bowman. The first two episodes have yet to include Barton with his signature bow and arrow, only Bishop. 

Photo provided by Hawkeye @hawkeyeofficial/Twitter

The series seems to highlight Barton as a dad, establishing his priority of becoming a more present and active father to his three kids. He is first shown watching a broadway play with his kids titled “Rogers: The Musical,” where it is apparent that he still mourns the loss of Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). This scene also suggests that Barton has experienced loss of hearing due to the fact he actively wears a hearing aid. Though he eventually encounters Bishop and makes the decision to extend his stay in New York City, his main concern entails making amends with those he wronged under the pseudonym Ronin in order to completely retire from the world of avenging — evidently concluding his role as ‘Hawkeye,’ passing along the title to Bishop herself. 

Photo provided by Hawkeye @hawkeyeofficial/Twitter

“Hawkeye” is set in December of 2024, one year after the events of “Avengers: Endgame.” Viewers are immediately intrigued by the bond Bishop and Barton find themselves forming, ultimately matching the energy of another MCU duo — Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) and Tony Stark. Stark and Barton seem to both find themselves serving as the father-figure in both of these young adult’s lives, acting as both mentor and hero. As prevalent in “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “Avengers: Infinity War” with the joining of Stark and Parker, Barton finds himself teaming up in an effort to erase Ronin once and for all, while equally attempting to save Bishop from the Tracksuit Mafia who seem to think she was responsible for the killings done at the hand of Barton as Ronin. 

With the premise so far following the haunted past of Ronin, it is evident that “Hawkeye” will dive deeper into the life of Barton, introducing viewers to a new version of the character — one that is fully-fleshed out and complex. The ending of the second episode equally assumed the bond that has clearly formed between him and Bishop and the significant role she will play in shaping the character of Barton. Viewers can catch up on the Disney+ streaming service now and tune in every Wednesday to witness the dangerous adventures the duo find themselves embarking on. 

McKenzie Boney is an Entertainment Staff Writer. She can be reached at mboney@uci.edu