Hailee Steinfeld hits the bullseye in 'Hawkeye,' the latest Marvel show coming to Disney+

Bill Goodykoontz
Arizona Republic

Whether the world needs another entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — do we call it that when it’s a TV show? — is debatable.

What isn’t is that we’ve got one. 

In this case that’s a good thing. “Hawkeye,” which debuts on Disney+ on Nov. 24, doesn’t delve too deeply into the Sturm und Drang of the MCU we see in one of the high-profile movies (at least not in the two episodes sent to critics for review). 

In fact part of the point of the show, created by Jonathan Igla, is shining a light on who might charitably be called a lesser avenger: Hawkeye, played by Jeremy Renner. He’s not anonymous — grateful New Yorkers recognize him after he helped save the city. But he’s not Tony Stark.

“Hawkeye” is not as ambitious as “WandaVision,” but it has a breezy quality that’s easy to get into.

Plus, it’s got a standout performance from Hailee Steinfeld as Kate Bishop, who stumbles into Hawkeye’s life early on.

Hawkeye doesn't have super powers. Neither does Kate Bishop

Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) and Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) team up for a Christmastime adventure in Marvel's "Hawkeye" series.

Hawkeye doesn’t have any super powers, but he is an expert archer, as anyone who has seen the passel of Avengers and Avengers adjacent movies can attest. He lost his family in the Blip, but they returned. The six-episode series takes place after they’re back, with Clint Barton — Hawkeye’s civilian name — squiring his kids around New York a few days before Christmas.

In one of the best scenes in the series, he takes his kids to see “Rogers: The Musical,” a Broadway show based on the adventures of Captain America and the other Avengers. It’s hilarious, but maybe not for Clint.

Kate is a rich, 22-year-old student. Her father was killed in the Battle of New York, which we revisit from her perspective. It’s a great creative choice — seeing what an incomprehensible event like that looks like from the point of view of a kid inside one of the buildings, many of which wound up collateral damage, instead of the god’s eye view in “The Avengers.”

Also an expert archer, Kate is in trouble at school for using her skills to accidentally bring down a historic bell tower on campus. Her mother Eleanor (Vera Farmiga) is upset, but she’s more concerned about breaking big news to Kate: Eleanor is going to marry Jack Duquesne (Tony Dalton).

Kate is not impressed. Perhaps with good reason.

At a swank Christmas party Kate, through a convoluted series of events involving a black-market auction for rich creeps (not her), winds up with the costume of Ronin, the vigilante Clint became for a time in “Avengers: Endgame.” 

Trouble follows. Kate is handily a martial arts expert as well, thanks to years of training. That and her archery skills will come in handy.

Clint just wants to get back home with his children to his wife, Laura (Linda Cardellini). But when he sees a news report of someone emerging from mayhem wearing the Ronin suit, he knows he’s got some business in New York to tend to. So he sends the kids home, finds Kate and their adventures begin.

Clint Barton knows being a superhero is hard. Kate is learning that

There are a lot of nice down-to-earth touches. After a fight with bad guys, Clint takes Kate to a drug store. She has ideas about maybe gathering supplies, making weapons, something like that. He just wants bandages, antiseptic ointment and Q-tips. You can’t fight crime with a nasty infection, after all.

Better still is Clint’s trip with his children to see “Rogers: The Musical.” The crowd loves it, of course; we drop in during a rave-up number just before intermission. But Clint’s reaction is much more complex. This was a part of his life, these are his friends and not all of them are around anymore. It’s not the inspirational spectacle for him that it is for everyone else.

Being a superhero is hard. Like anyone else you make choices and you have to live with them. But some of your choices have monumental consequences. Kate sees the exciting part; Clint is teaching her how to tend to her wounds. It’s a different dynamic than the rest of the MCU offerings.

So was “WandaVision,” right up till the final episode when it devolved into typical Marvel epic-battle chaos. It’s far too early to tell how “Hawkeye” will go. But it’s off to a promising start.

'Hawkeye' 

Episodes 1 and 2 premiere Nov. 24 on Disney+.

Reach Goodykoontz at bill.goodykoontz@arizonarepublic.com. Facebook: facebook.com/GoodyOnFilm. Twitter: @goodyk. Subscribe to the weekly movies newsletter.

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