Ahh, Christmas time in the city. Broadway, Chinese food, the tree at 30 Rock, it’s a fantastic time. Hawkeye drops us right into the heart of New York City with the Barton family, but first, it takes us back to 2012, during the Battle of New York when the Chitauri attacked the city.

Here, we meet the Bishop family. A young Kate Bishop is eavesdropping on a fight between her parents, Eleanor (Vera Farmiga) and Derek (Brian D’arcy James). There seem to be some money issues, despite the family’s opulent penthouse apartment. The afternoon is interrupted when suddenly the sound of an explosion is heard in the distance, and then another shakes the building.

We watch as Kate rushes around her apartment to a room where the wall is completely gone. Watching in horror, Kate gapes at a Chitauri flying toward her on the attack when suddenly an arrow flies by, destroying the invader and saving her life. A traumatic but life-altering moment.

After the death of her father during the attack, Kate begins her training. In a stylish opening credit sequence reminiscent of the work of David Aja and Annie Wu, we watch Kate start her training with a bow and arrow, no doubt inspired by the superhero who saved her life. As she grows up, the trophies and medals fill up the cabinet. Fencing, martial arts, gymnastics, we learn later that she earned her black belt at 15.

kate BishopBest Barton Christmas!

Cut to present day, and Kate has a lock pick in hand, trying to break into her school to pull a prank. She climbs her way up to the roof and shoots a trick arrow at the school bell. Of course, those old bell towers aren’t necessarily meant to actually ring these days. The whole bell, clock, and tower come crashing down. Meet Kate Bishop!

Meanwhile, in New York, Clint is in town for Rogers: The Musical, a bouncy and lively Broadway musical assumedly based on the life of Steve Rogers. I absolutely love the pun-tastic, over-exaggerated pull quotes calling it, “An All-American Musical for an All-American Hero”,  “A Timeless Story of a Timeless Hero”, and “A Super-Powered Sensation”.

Director and executive producer Rhys Thomas has explained in a press conference that this musical is the impetus for the Barton family to be in New York. It was an offhanded remark, Thomas admits, but one that Kevin Feige was quick to adapt. After meeting composer Mark Shaiman (most notably known for his work on Hairspray), and finding out Shaiman’s husband was a Marvel fan, everything fell into place.

Shaiman’s song, which I can only assume is called “I Could Do This All Day” is sure to be a hit among Marvel fans as it adds that musical chipper to a traumatic but memorable battle that brought our first generation of heroes together.

Poor Hawkeye, getting his face blocked by the shield. Photo Courtesy of Marvel Studios.

Among the bevy of rich lyrics, the song introduces the Avengers as how the regular people might see them. “The Hulk is incredible, smashing things up. While Iron Man takes to the sky. Captain America’s strong and that Thor is a god, and lord knows they’re easy on the eyes. Black Widow’s a knockout who can knock you out, and when Ant-Man flies you won’t hear a sound…” Wait… Ant-Man? That’s right, somehow it’s in the cultural lexicon that Ant-Man was one of the original Avengers. Who did Scott Lang pay to get included in this musical?

It’s a funny little addition that acts as evidence that while the public knows some things about the Avengers, their interpretation is different from the truth. Hawkeye, who one might only know as the Avenger who has the bow, gets a throwaway line of “Hawkeye seems cool, he’s a really nice guy,” illustrating the public’s potential disinterest in him. Even if, or maybe because, he might be the only one that they can relate to as the most down-to-earth of the bunch.

The public perception continues with the line, “City’s trashed when you take your bow, we’ll blame you then but you’re good for now,” echoing the public sentiments after the battle and most memorably after the events of Sokovia. On a urinal in the theater, someone has written “Thanos was right.” This is a world that has been fundamentally changed by the presence of superheroes. Sometimes in small ways, sometimes in large ones.

It’s notable that although Clint is sitting in the audience, he’s turned his hearing aid off to drown out the sound, and as the camera lingers on Broadway Nat, it’s impossible to ignore the grief that is shadowing Clint. Of all the treatments of a post-Endgame storyline, this has been the most natural feeling so far in Phase 4. Perhaps it’s because we might be genuinely curious about Clint’s state after the death of Nat, but for once, the mention of Thanos didn’t feel tiring.

Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. © Marvel Studios 2021.

Invincible And Rich

Elsewhere in the city, Kate heads to her Mom’s place where she gets her credit card taken away after the bell incident. It’s clear that whatever money troubles might have been plaguing the Bishops have gone away.

“I know that young people think they’re invincible and rich people think they’re invincible and you’ve always been both. So take it from someone who hasn’t, you’re not. You will get hurt. So please don’t go out looking for it,” Eleanor advises, though it doesn’t feel like Kate will be listening to that advice any time soon.

Dressed and ready for a charity gala, Eleanor is surprised by Tony Dalton‘s obnoxiously snazzy Jack Duquesne, a paramour that garners nothing but an eye roll and disgust from Kate. Eleanor asks Kate to come to the gala as a way to make up for the destruction of the bell, and despite her annoyance at Jack, Kate agrees.

Meanwhile, Clint orders a thousand plates of food at a Chinese restaurant for his kids, in classic over-compensating dad fashion. Who can eat three whole crabs? That’s insanity for one person! Picking up a call from Linda Cardellini‘s Laura, the premise is set. It’s six days until Christmas, and the family is heading home to celebrate. After promising a laundry list of activities like ugly sweaters and movie marathons, it’s obvious to us that Clint making it home in time before Santa arrives is the equivalent of a Christmas miracle.

Photo Courtesy of Marvel Studios

Cardellini is, as always, incredibly warm as Laura Barton. Despite some fan’s displeasure at her existence, she’s quite an enjoyable character for me. Though, I’m definitely not surprised that Clint is the type of man who calls the mother of his children “momma”.

The feast is interrupted as the waiter arrives with the check paid, saying the dinner is on the restaurant. When Clint tries to pay himself, the waiter says, “It’s necessary, you saved our city.” Wherever he goes, Clint is hounded by his reputation as Hawkeye, one that he isn’t so keen on flaunting.

At the charity gala, Kate watches from the sidelines as her mother and Jack chat with the other guests. She’s approached by Jack’s rich uncle Armand (the third of at least seven), played as exceedingly pompous by Simon Callow. Armand lets the cat out of the bag. Eleanor is newly engaged to Jack. This clearly doesn’t sit well with him and he knows it will set Kate off.

She confronts her mother, who admits that Armand is correct, and the only thing Kate can do it leave the room to get some air outside. On the sidewalk, she spots a shaggy golden retriever with one eye, who she courteously greets hello, before heading back into the building. It’s Lucky!

Lucky the Pizza Dog

Back up in the gala, Kate overhears Eleanor and Armand arguing. Armand implies that her empire is built on lies and Kate is concerned. Eleanor waves him off when Kate mentions it, but she follows Armand regardless. Thanks to her black tuxedo, she is able to disguise herself as a caterer and trail Armand into a secret black market auction hidden at the back of the gala.

At the auction is everything from dinosaur skulls to objects salvaged from the Avengers compound. There, Jack arrives and bids on the Ronin retractable sword that is being auctioned off. We already got the cue from earlier that he’s clearly obsessed with swords. And when Armand notes that he can’t afford it, Jack mentions his inheritance.

The auction is interrupted as an explosion knocks down the wall behind the auctioneer and throws everyone back. In the kerfuffle, Jack steals the sword for himself. As the assailants (donned in tracksuits!) bursts through the hole in the wall, hunting for a watch from the Avengers compound, Kate puts on the Ronin suit that was also for sale.

Spotted: Ronin Saves Dog in Midtown

The tracksuit mafia immediately recognizes the Ronin and a fight ensues. Kate manages to hold her own against the bros, using the dark corners of the wine cellar where they are to her advantage. Eventually, she runs outside where the dog from the street is attacking one of the perpetrators and getting kicked in return.

She helps the dog out before chasing him out into the street where someone records a video of her saving the dog from being hit by a car on the street. Kate takes the dog back to her apartment, where she hastily feeds him some pizza before she goes to track down Armand.

Back at Clint’s hotel, the footage of the Ronin reappearing in New York causes some concern, especially since he knows that’s not him in the suit. He sets out into the city looking for the imposter.

Photo Courtesy of Marvel Studios

And good timing, because after climbing up into Armand’s home, Kate finds the man quite literally stabbed in the back. Shocked, she makes her way out of the apartment before she is seen, but back on the street, she is cornered by the tracksuit bros.

Before they can beat her up, someone in a hoodie arrives and kicks their butts. The man grabs Kate and drags her into an alley to unmask her. Much to Kate’s surprise and glee, it’s Hawkeye! Much to Clint’s surprise and annoyance (?), it’s a strange young woman. Merry Christmas, Clint!

Stray Arrows

  • This episode, “Never Meet Your Heroes”, was directed by Rhys Thomas, best known for his work in comedy with credits with Saturday Night Live and Documentary Now. It was written by Jonathan Igla, who has credits for Mad Men, Pitch (a personal favorite), and Bridgerton.
  • It’s super clear in the first scene that Kate is probably closer to her father than her mother, right? You get the sense that Eleanor knows it but is still trying to be close with her daughter. Also, Eleanor might have a bit of a chip on her shoulder given her comment about Kate has always been rich, where she hasn’t.
  • “Present Day” is two years after the events of Endgame, which we can assume takes place at the end of 2024, leading into 2025 because Infinity War starts in 2018 before jumping forward 5 years. One can assume there might be some big plot twists that will be revealed in the final episode after No Way Home?
  • The stage production of Rogers is chock full of Broadway actors and dancers, including Adam Pascal, known for his role-playing Roger Davis in the Broadway and movie versions of Rent, musician Ty Taylor, Harris Turner (Broadway Frozen), Jason Scott Macdonald (Broadway Aladdin), Nico Dejesus (Broadway and film Newsies), Jordan Chin (Broadway In the Heights) and more. I wonder if Feige has unleashed a monster in giving us a glimpse of this musical, at least give us the full performance of this one song, Marvel!
Photo Courtesy of Marvel Studios
  • Every time I see a person asking for a selfie from a celebrity in a television show or movie, it hits a little too close to home. Everyone likes a good selfie, but come on dude, in the bathroom??? (Also, not to go into too much detail, but they were clearly just standing at the urinal right? No one was actually peeing?)
  • Love seeing Vera Farmiga donned in all red in present day. It certainly is a visual marker that makes me think of her comic book character, who is an actual vampire. Now given the presence of Mahershala Ali‘s Blade at the end stinger of Eternals, could we potentially get our first on-screen MCU vampire? Farmiga certainly is no stranger to horror. But also, does this mean we’ll get a more comic-accurate Red Wing?!
  • I love the black tux choice for Kate, but I do miss some of Kate’s more extravagant dresses that we saw her in during the 2012 Hawkeye run. The tux was apt and convenient for the undercover though.
  • I can only assume the tracksuit mafia has tussled with Ronin before. Did the bros not get the sense that this is a different Ronin, given how physically different Kate is from Clint?
  • Monogrammed butterscotch candies are the gaudiest, old-money-rich-person thing ever.

Hawkeye streams Wednesdays exclusively on Disney+.