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‘Hawkeye’ has some good elements but misses the target

The Art of Nerding Out

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I’ve been a big fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe for its entire existence. I’ve even liked the parts of the MCU that the cool kids say are trash, like “Thor: The Dark World” and “Ant-Man and the Wasp.” I’ve been so high on the MCU that the term “shill” might apply.

But now I have to say something I’ve never had to say about any previous MCU property. Here it goes…

I don’t really like “Hawkeye.”

“Hawkeye” essentially is a buddy cop movie featuring a grizzled veteran and an enthusiastic rookie stretched out over multiple episodes. It swaps out the cops for an Avenger and a skilled but inexperienced wannabe. The show teams Clint “Hawkeye” Barton (Jeremy Runner) with young Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) and throws them into a morass of mystery and murder involving the Tracksuit Mafia.

At the same time, Barton is running around trying to collect MacGuffins left over from the wreckage of the Avengers compound and get back to his family in time to celebrate Christmas while Kate works to solve family issues of her own.

This sounds like the setup for a fun, exciting series. But it’s all so boring.

Hawkeye so far is playing out a bit like “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” in that the early episodes are mostly Hawkeye and Kate feeling each other out while bickering. But where “TFATWS” featured two established characters we cared about coming in, “Hawkeye” has a tired, put-upon Barton and a bratty, antagonizing Kate in a teenager/surrogate father relationship that we’ve seen too many times before. And “Hawkeye” doesn’t really bring anything new to the table.

It’s a shame, too, because Renner and Steinfeld are both terrific actors and they work off one another really well. Their relationship might be tired and trope-filled but the actors at least make it watchable. The two have chemistry and share some really nice bonding moments throughout the series.

Apart from Renner and Steinfeld’s work, there are a few other bright spots. There’s a really cool fight/car chase in the third episode. There’s another touching scene where Kate has to mediate a phone call between Clint and one of his kids because Clint’s hearing is shot that stands out. And I’ll take any reason to watch Vera Farmiga, who plays Kate’s mother.

The idea of a bunch of Russian gangsters in matching tracksuits is a good visual and amuses me endlessly for some reason. I can almost hear the phone calls between Tracksuit Mafia members to coordinate their wardrobes now.

“Hey, what should we wear to work tomorrow? We’ve got two murders and a trip to intimidate a bodega owner who hasn’t paid his protection money on the schedule.”

“I dunno. Tracksuit?”

“Yeah! Tracksuit!”

All that stuff is great but it’s not enough to sustain a six-episode series. Most of the time, “Hawkeye” is stuck in a repeating cycle of Kate annoying Clint, Clint phoning his family to let them know he’s stuck at work, Clint and Kate going on a mission and Kate screwing up. Lather, rinse, repeat.

That might be why “Hawkeye” is so boring. It never feels like it’s actually making any progress and is always spinning its wheels, story-wise. Four episodes in and we’re still chasing the same questions we were when the show started. Sure, we know a little more about some of the show’s bad guys. But not enough to really hook us and make us care.

That means the last two episodes of “Hawkeye” will be packed with revelations. I’m sure this show will impact the MCU moving forward, probably because Kate is going to replace Clint as Hawkeye. But, at this point, I’m too bored with how the show has unspooled to care.

”Hawkeye” is available to stream on Disney+. New episodes will be released every Wednesday through Dec. 15.