Marvel’s latest TV show Hawkeye wrapped up in a Christmas bow, and it was…definitely something. This series has given us a lot to love, but unfortunately the finale followed in the previous examples of Marvel shows not being fully able to stick the landing.
Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) and Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) have phenomenal chemistry, and Clint finally acknowledging that they are partners was the absolute perfect note. Barton has proven himself as a mentor and Kate Bishop is in a perfect position to take the torch as Hawkeye, and help lead the next generation of Marvel heroes. Steinfeld has been in her element through the entire series, and the final episode was the absolute peak of her performance in this season.
Florence Pugh continues to understand the assignment in the best possible way in her role as the great Yelena Balova. She and Steinfeld also have fantastic chemistry and really deserve their own spin-off at this point. It’s disappointing that we only had two episodes to see these two fantastic characters in action. Although it was also satisfying to see Yelena finally confront Clint Barton, the moment felt rushed, and for the amount of emotional moments that led up to it, the encounter ultimately felt anti-climatic.
The LARPers also got a chance to be heroes themselves this episode, and it worked so well. This was a great group of characters and was a really funny storyline, but they too were given nowhere near the screen time they deserved. Jacques (Tony Dalton) had the surprise twist of being just some guy rather than the mustache-twirling villain he’s been portrayed as, and I’m honestly not mad about it at all. If anything, from his last scene in this episode, he will make a worthy addition to the LARPers, and hopefully we get to see him again.
The choices made with Maya/Echo (Alaqua Cox) were confusing, and an example of how Hawkeye has introduced great stories and characters but didn’t have the time to fully realize each of them. Such was the case with Maya. Her story has been among the most interesting to follow, and her story’s conclusion in this series felt very rushed. The groundwork had definitely been set for her to doubt the mission she has been on most of her life, but we didn’t get as much time to see her really wrestle with this decision and contemplate her next steps forward. She’s set up to be a continued character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and I can’t emphasize enough what a great decision this is.
The setup with Eleanor Bishop (Vera Farmiga) setting up Jacques and being in debt made sense in theory. Again, though, Marvel didn’t allow enough time to adequately give this story the focus it deserved. This character has been shifty since we first met her, and fans always knew there was more to her than what we saw on screen. There was a lot more potential to both this character and this story, particularly with the admonition to her daughter that Kate has only ever known privilege and would never understand having nothing and the desperation that comes with being in that situation. Eleanor’s story all just came to an end abruptly and that arc’s conclusion can’t be called satisfactory.
The big reveal of this episode however was the official return of Wilson Fisk/Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio) to the MCU. Seeing his all too brief appearance in this episode will no doubt remind fans what made him such a compelling villain in Daredevil, and why he remains one of Marvel’s best on-screen villains to date. D’Onofrio does menace so well, and the MCU is in desperate need of the compelling, charismatic villain that D’Onofrio can provide. A cardinal rule of comic books and comic book movies is to never believe a character is dead unless there’s a body (and even then, there’s some wiggle room), so we know getting shot point-blank by his niece won’t slow him down even a little bit. Side note, if you’ve read the comics…you know how this plays out, and yeah, it’s coming.
One of the best parts of Hawkeye has been the slow but steady increase given to Linda Cardellini, and really this is one of the best decisions Marvel could be making. Much is to be said about how Marvel still has far to go in terms of giving female characters backstories and legitimate character development. It gives me hope that we may get an arc for a character so long regulated to the background. The tease with the character having a watch with the SHIELD logo is a possible nod to the character being Mockingbird, who we may get to see in a future MCU project.
As good as Marvel’s previous TV shows have been, they all seem to have a lot of difficulties when it comes to the finales. Unfortunately, Hawkeye was no exception. A lot of amazing characters have been introduced and it was a challenge to give everyone the screen time they deserved. Hopefully, future Marvel shows can figure out how to balance having an amazing, self-contained series while bringing everything together in a finale that highlights the best of what the show had to offer.
Hawkeye is available to stream on Disney+.