We’re only getting to the Disney+ Marvel shows now, and we decided to start with the “Christmas one.” Short version: the acting and production are solid, the leads have great chemistry, the story keeps moving, and it features a killer holiday soundtrack.
If you want a more detailed review, read on. You will encounter some minor spoilers, though I’ve avoided the more serious ones.
Titles: “Never Meet Your Heroes,” “Hide and Seek,” “Echoes,” “Partners, Am I Right?” “Ronin,” “So This is Christmas?”
Cast and Crew
Directors: Rhys Thomas, Bert and Bertie (Amber Templemore-Finlayson and Katie Ellwood)
Writers: Jonathan Igla, Katrina “Katie” Mathewson, Tanner Bean, Heather Quinn, Erin Cancino, Jenna Noel Frazier, Elisa Lomnitz Climent, Don Heck.
Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton / Hawkeye
Hailee Steinfeld as Kate Bishop
Vera Farmiga as Eleanor Bishop
Tony Dalton as Jack Duquesne
Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez
Fra Fee as Kazi Kazimierczak
Linda Cardellini as Laura Barton
Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova
Aleks Paunovic as Ivan
Piotr Adamczyk as Tomas
Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk / Kingpin
Cade Woodward as Nathaniel Barton
Ava Russo as Lila Barton
Ben Sakamoto as Cooper Barton
Carlos Navarro as Enrique
Clayton English as Grills
Adelle Drahos as Missy
Chris Romrell as Larper #1
Ivan Mbakop as Detective Caudle
Franco Castan as Detective Rivera
Adetinpo Thomas as Wendy Conrad
Robert Walker Branchaud as Orville
Simon Callow as Armand III
Clara Stack as Little Kate Bishop
Darnell Besaw as Little Maya
Phoenix Crepin as Little Kazi
Brian d’Arcy James as Derek Bishop
Zahn McClarnon as William Lopez
Jonathan Bergman as Armand VII
Ashley Ames as Eleanor’s Assistant
Nina Zoie Lam as Audiologist
Jolt as Lucky the Pizza Dog
When a talented but inexperienced wannabe superhero attracts the attention of Hawkeye’s old enemies, the archer– who just wants to relax and enjoy Christmas with his family– must step in to help her solve several interconnected mysteries.
The leads have excellent chemistry, and the script makes use of this fact. We’re clearly in a comic-book-inspired universe. Most of the time, the balance between a more realistic superhero universe and the slightly goofy aspects works well. We have quips, implausible-to-impossible action, and a casual acceptance of comic-book-type characters, but the emotional core still holds.
The action sequences have been well-choreographed, including the Obligatory Epic Final BattleTM. However….
I will accept a certain amount of comic-book physics (though they really lean into them in the last episode) and that Hawkeye and Kate Bishop (both of whom have different, but influential, connections) could get the LARPers into an elite event. Even in a superhero series, however, I have to draw some lines. We have an active shooter in a popular locale where the general public, multiple tourists, and a some elite rich people have gathered. Then an army of thugs shows up and engages in active battle with some superheroes. For the Coup de Grâce a powerful criminal figure whom the police would like to pin something on decides to leave his protective privacy and join the fray. The fighting continues for, let us say, at least a half-hour. Not even a distant siren sounds. Finally, one cop whom someone has called turns up to arrest one lone person on suspicion in an ongoing investigation.
Then we see the throngs of emergency responders cleaning up the mess.
Originality: 2/6 Like most of the Marvel projects, this one draws heavily from a lengthy comic-book past, reinventing various elements for their new medium and context.
Emotional Response: 5/6 I felt a little dubious about the inclusion of the LARPers, but they ended up being entertaining and essential to the story. Supposedly, some of the awkward interaction took inspiration from Renner’s interaction with fans at conventions and other events.
A little Marvel featurette on the characters appears below.
Story: 5/6 The threads hold together and the show fits nicely into the established continuity, tying in several elements from other films without over-relying on them. I think by this point the MCU shows and movies must be viewed the way we do an arc-heavy TV series.
In total, Hawkeye receives 34/42
Some General Thoughts
We recognized a certain character’s offscreen voice immediately. The actorsays he’s the same character he played in the Netflix series, though he’s clearly been powered up to comic-book levels. Why, he’s now powerful enough that he could fight (say) Spider-man.