Sat, 15 January 2022
This month’s episode of Hyperspace Theories rings in the new year with the storytelling of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Tricia Barr and B.J. Priester discuss the six episodes of the Christmas-themed Disney+ series Hawkeye. Though the show may have one character name in its title, like the other MCU series to date it also is very much an ensemble story.
Clint Barton has been the MCU’s Hawkeye through four Avengers films and several others. In Endgame, we learn that Clint responded to the Snap taking away his family by becoming the ruthless and vengeful assassin Ronin, murdering crime lords and other “deserving” foes until Natasha Romanoff managed to restore his hope, changing his heart just as he had once given her the chance to change hers. In Hawkeye, everything spirals outward from these events: Clint’s grief for Natasha, his commitment to honoring the sacrifice she made to give him a life with his family, and his responsibility for his actions as Ronin.
But while Clint creates the circumstances in which Hawkeye‘s story can unfold, the series at its heart is the story of three women: Kate Bishop, Yelena Belova, and Maya Lopez. Each must face difficult truths and choose their own path forward after their interactions with Clint’s past and present. Obsessed with vengeance for Ronin’s murder of her father, Maya discovers that Clint is not the monster she thought, and the real monsters are the ones closest to her. Driven by certainty that Clint does not deserve to live either if Natasha is gone, Yelena is challenged to face her grief, accept Natasha’s sacrifice, and confront whether assassin-for-hire is really the path she wants to walk.
Kate Bishop, meanwhile, evolves from a talented young woman ringing a tower bell with an arrow on a dare to a superhero committed to doing the right thing, even if it means risking her own life in single combat against a ferocious foe to save the life of her mother – who she then promptly has arrested for her crimes on Christmas. Much of Hawkeye plays out through the trope of the reluctant mentor and the overeager pupil, but the contrasts (and comparisons) between Clint and Kate only serve to show the audience why Kate is ready to take on the mantle of Hawkeye. But not simply to replicate how Clint fulfilled that role; rather, Kate will become her own version of Hawkeye, perhaps even as more of a team leader. In Hawkeye, Kate proves her skill and her heart to Clint and to the audience – and to herself.