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Hawkeye: Why Hailee Steinfeld is the true Marvel of Disney+’s superhero series


REVIEW: It’s billed as a soaring, smashing, fighting, flying, musical triumph, but Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) only just makes it through the first act.

After all, he participated in the battle of New York, he doesn’t it need replayed with a dancing Thor and awful lyrics such as, “Hulk, you know the magic word is…smash”. And besides, seeing a representation of his best friend Natasha, whose loss he still keenly feels, isn’t the emotional trigger he needs right now.

So he and his three children decide to ditch Rogers: The Musical at the break, seeking other pre-Christmas family bonding activities instead.

However, even as they plan visits to the Big Apple’s famed oversize tree, plot a movie marathon and the purchase of ugly sweaters, a news report catches Clint’s eye. An infamous masked vigilante, once the scourge of the city’s criminal gangs has resurfaced. But how can that be, when the man who was “the Ronin” is currently chilling with his whānau?

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So sets up the premise for this latest, six-part Marvel Cinematic Universe series – another cleverly conceived, brilliantly cast piece of the Phase 4-puzzle. After the confusing, sometimes confounding star-studded fantasy of the Eternals and the timey-wimey Doctor Who-esque hijinks of Loki, it is something of a relief to have a tale that’s a little more gritty and down-to-earth.

Indeed, while there’s something of a Die Hard-esque swagger to this festive fare, it also feels closer in style to the near-forgotten Netflix Marvel series like Jessica Jones or Daredevil, than the other “official” MCU spin-offs.

Move over Katniss Everdeen, Hollywood has a new queen of the bow and arrow – Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop.

Supplied

Move over Katniss Everdeen, Hollywood has a new queen of the bow and arrow – Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop.

And don’t be fooled by the title, while Renner’s grizzled archer certainly has a key role to play, this really is the origin story for fellow bow-and-arrow enthusiast Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld, bringing the same charisma that lit up Transformers’ tonal reboot Bumblebee).

Although traumatised by the front row seat she had to the Chitauri invasion in 2012, which claimed the life of her beloved father, she has channelled her then feelings of powerlessness into becoming a martial arts expert and toxophilite.

Lately, though, things haven’t been going her way. Already kicked out of school after a prank involving a bell tower goes pear-shaped and shocked by the news that her security empire-owning mother Eleanor (Vera Farmiga) is planning to marry the oily Jack Duquesne (Tony Dalton), she stumbles across a seemingly illicit underground auction, while attending a swank society party at her ma’s insistence.

Hawkeye really flies when the inter-generational banter between Jeremy Renner’s Clint and Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate kicks off.

Supplied

Hawkeye really flies when the inter-generational banter between Jeremy Renner’s Clint and Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate kicks off.

Caught up in a firestorm when it’s raided by a gang, she seizes one of the auction items, an outfit apparently “liberated” some time ago from the wreckage of the Avengers Tower, and attempts to firstly fight her way to freedom, before attempting to find out what exactly she witnessed. What she quickly discovers though, is her new disguise has history, baggage – and plenty of enemies.

With an overall running time that’s not too dissimilar to Endgame, Hawkeye is essentially an elongated feature told in bite-size chunks. While showrunner Jonathan Igla (Mad Man) infuses the story with plenty of Kick Ass-esque and other humour (especially focused around Clint’s enforced visit to an outdoor, live-action, role-playing game), the show really flies when the inter-generational banter between Kate and Clint kicks off.

There’s something of an old Hollywood screwball comedy vibe to their sparring and her resistance to his “advice”, Steinfeld once again proving why she’s one of the most charismatic young actors around and sends plenty of viewer’s heart’s a-quiver.

And, if the showdown teased at during Black Widow’s post-credits sequence comes to fruition, we could be in for an even more exciting and entertaining ride than anyone could have dared hope.

Hawkeye begins streaming on Disney+ on the evening of November 24.



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