Thanksgiving came early this year. Disney+ and Marvel Studios continued the run of new television series for the Marvel Cinematic Universe this year with the two-episode premiere of Hawkeye. Corresponding with the upcoming holiday season, showrunner Jonathan Igla (Mad Men) introduces the latest installment of the MCU with a Christmas-infused adventure of Clint Barton and his new protege Kate Bishop in the midst of New York City. The six-episode run got off to a hot start with its pilot episode “Never Meet Your Heroes” and looks to be angling to be another smash hit for the streaming service and comic book company.
“Never Meet Your Heroes” kicks off the Hawkeye run with a blast from the past during the Battle of New York. The flashback depicts a young Kate Bishop at her ritzy apartment with her parents on the day of the battle where her home is destroyed, her father dies in the wreckage, and, in the meantime, is subsequently saved by Hawkeye during the ensuing chaos. Following this experience, Kate becomes infatuated with archery as well as combat during her youth and the series segues into her young adulthood in New York City as a 22-year-old woman.
Hawkeye’s first episode blends together two varying lives with Hailee Steinfeld’s (Edge of Seventeen) Bishop and Jeremy Renner’s (Wind River) Barton/Hawkeye due to the dichotomy of optimism of the young hero and the aloofness of the established Avenger. Barton is first seen witnessing a Broadway play about the Avengers with his family while experiencing some notable frustration about the events and the way he is perceived. In the meantime, Kate is being hassled by her mother, portrayed by Vera Farmiga (The Departed), to join her and her fiance in a charity gala. During the event, Kate follows her mother’s fiance Jack Duquesne to a black market auction at the gala where memorabilia from the Battle of New York as well as Hawkeye’s Ronin suit is being auctioned off.
While Kate begins to investigate the matter, the tracksuit mafia invades the auction and a battle ensues upon Kate’s theft of the Ronin suit before she escapes. Kate also finds a dog on the side of the road and rescues him before returning home to her apartment and going back out to investigate further. Upon the sighting of the Ronin suit, news takes focus on the return of the figure which catches Clint’s attention where he goes and tracks down and saves Kate from the tracksuit mafia’s attack.
The pilot episode for Hawkeye was a smash hit and a continuation of the success that Marvel has been able to achieve with this recent venture into the small screen for the MCU. Not to merge comic book companies at all, but the overall festivities and interactions of characters came across a visual and story of Arkham City meets the most recent Spiderman: Miles Morales video games. That might just be this reviewer being obsessed with those games and the holiday spirit they encounter, but nevertheless, the introduction of the tracksuit mafia brings me great joy to the MCU. Admittedly, I am quite picky regarding Marvel hits and successes. I believe a lot of that is drawn upon the notion that every villain has to be this supernatural case or individual that exceeds our expectations of what can be viewed as an antagonist. It is almost refreshing to have this crushing force of the tracksuit mafia, seemingly thugs from the street, create a larger problem for our superheroes. I believe this is what triggered my comparison to Arkham City because of the game’s impromptu battles on the streets and that’s what the tracksuit mafia symbolizes. As a Marvel fan myself, the most successful villain I have witnessed is Michael Keaton’s Vulture, who was created based on the system screwing over the regular folk, an identifiable arch that can be relatable in a way.
Furthermore, “Never Meet Your Heroes” also provides some intriguing dynamics to look out for in future episodes. Nearly every character the viewer encountered carried an aura of being a suspect of some kind. Whether this is Kate’s mom, potential new step-father, or any of the other encounters at the Gala such as the lengthy Armand family, there seems to be chaos bubbling up in this ritzy upper-class social life that Kate played standby her entire life. The glitz and glamour of New York City through Marvel’s lens could see a new underground crime life that audiences have otherwise been hidden from throughout the MCU and that creates excitement.