There’s a scene in the second episode of Disney+’s new “Hawkeye” series where Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) has to pretend to be a New York firefighter. He looks completely believable under a FDNY helmet. It’s hard to imagine Captain America or Thor blending in like that.
But Hawkeye has always seemed like the Everyman Avenger. After all, he’s not an interplanetary warrior or a genetically engineered supersoldier. He’s just a guy who can shoot arrows. And unlike Chris Evans or Chris Hemsworth, Renner is no pretty boy. The Marvel series make the most of his brooding, bruised demeanor.
“Hawkeye,” which premiered its first two episodes of a six-episode season on Wednesday, leans into that idea of the superhero as a regular guy. Based on the comic book series created by Matt Fraction, it has a relaxed, low-key vibe, emphasizing the great chemistry between Renner and Hailee Steinfeld as much as the action.
“Hawkeye” is set during Christmastime in New York, and it thankfully does seem to be filmed in real locations in the city, rather than on a soundstage in Atlanta like much Marvel fare. Clint is in New York with his two kids on a “dad time” weekend. In a very funny scene, they take in a Broadway show: “Rogers: The Musical,” a “Hamilton”-ish retelling of the first “Avengers” movie. (I still have the showstopping “I Can Do This All Day!” stuck in my head.) But Clint isn’t laughing, still carrying some survivor’s guilt from the events of “Endgame.”
On a parallel track, the show also follows Kate Bishop (Steinfeld), the daughter of a wealthy Manhattan family who has idolized Clint since she was a little girl, and grown up to be an archery/martial arts expert on her own. These two oughtta meet!
Of course, they do, eventually, as Clint and Kate join forces against a track-suited group of Russian gangsters called, unimaginatively, the Track Suit Mafia, and try to unravel a mystery that seems to involve Kate’s mom (Vera Farmiga) and slippery stepfather-to-be (Tony Barton). The Marvel TV shows, especially “WandaVision” and “Loki,” seem to be structured around keeping the audience from knowing who the actual villain is until the last possible minute, and “Hawkeye” follows that trend.
But it’s mostly an excuse for some good fights and great character comedy, with the wisecracking, fast-talking Kate playing off well against the grumpy Hawkeye. Add in some Christmas wrapping and a cute stray dog, and “Hawkeye” hits its mark.
Also on streaming: Disney+ is having a big week this week. In addition to “Hawkeye,” the streaming service is premiering Peter Jackson’s new documentary series about the Beatles, “Get Back.” The three-part series, airing Thursday through Saturday, draws from behind-the-scenes footage of the band’s recording of its penultimate album, “Let It Be.”
Those sessions have been thought to have been contentious, leading to the band’s breakup. Jackson’s film shows a more complicated dynamic.
And ‘tis the season to binge cheesy Christmas romance movies. While Hallmark has cornered the market on those flicks, Netflix has been making a strong play in recent years. The latest installment of Vanessa Hudgens in “The Princess Switch” trilogy dropped last week.
The new “A Castle For Christmas,” premiering Friday, features none other that Westley himself, Cary Elwes of “The Princess Bride,” playing a Scottish duke forced to share his castle with a famous author, played by Brooke Shields. Sure, why not?