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Hawkeye episode 3 spoilers follow.
There's a moment in the third episode of Hawkeye where Kate Bishop says, "I've been thinking about your branding issue" to Clint. And clearly, Marvel has been doing the same, albeit without the goofy comic-book costume that Kate draws for him in the diner.
Now that Jeremy Renner is starring in his own Hawkeye show, the founding Avenger finally has a chance to move past his reputation as "the boring one" and find the nuance that this character actually deserves.
From Clint's grief over Natasha and his guilt over Ronin to his experience as someone who is hard of hearing, Hawkeye is actually far more interesting than the MCU has given him credit for up until now. And while episodes one and two ventured into these aspects of his character quite gradually, the latest installment has delved far deeper, rounding Clint out in ways that make him far more compelling than ever before.
It's not just the character work that's improved here either. Part of Hawkeye's appeal has always been that he's just a regular guy with a bow and arrow, yet still he's able to hold his own in fights against mad titans and actual gods. In the Avengers films, however, that was never as impressive as it should have been.
While Kate has idolized Clint from the very start, Marvel fans have struggled to do the same, and not just because he was brainwashed for most of the first movie. Even when Hawkeye was fighting against Ultron's robots or the forces of Thanos, his fighting skills were often reduced to explosive arrows and the occasional grappling hook. Little was made of his almost inhuman marksmanship, not to mention the impressive array of trick arrows that he wields in the comics.
Early on in episode three, Hawkeye reminds us of Clint's prowess with a stunning shot that simultaneously cuts Kate's captor and frees her all at the same time. Watching him hold his own against Echo further cements that this reluctant, grumpy old hero is still a formidable fighter in his own right, even if he doesn't want to be any more.
Then of course the trick arrows come into play. And no, we're not talking about something naff like that USB arrow Clint used in the first Avengers film. With Clint at the wheel, Kate is given (almost) full access to Hawkeye's arsenal, introducing a surprising range of hardware that the MCU has never bothered to acknowledge before.
Putty arrows, acid arrows and purple gas arrows (on brand) are all used as the Tracksuit Mafia chase our two Hawkeyes down, something which they absolutely should regret given that Clint has been saving one of his best arrows until last. Cornered on a bridge, OG Hawkeye shoots out a Pym arrow which, you've guessed it, expands to become a giant arrow that crushes an entire car completely.
This might be the most impressive moment Clint has ever had on screen, and sure, he got a little help from Ant-Man, but it's still a vital reminder of the impact that Hawkeye can have when done right as a character.
Still, this does beg the question: why didn't Marvel ever utilize Hawkeye in this way before? As a hero, he's not defined by trick arrows but their creative use would certainly have made him feel more like a valuable member of the Avengers, not to mention how useful these arrows would have actually been in battle.
Fighting a group of Chitauri? Use the gas arrow. Trying to keep up with Quicksilver? Use the putty arrow. Want to hold your own against Thanos? Pull out a Pym arrow and crush him with it.
This episode jokes that Hawkeye has arrows that are perhaps even more dangerous than any of these, so it's a shame that he didn't think to use any of them in previous films. But of course, that's actually down to the writers, none of whom ever seemed to give Clint much thought beyond the occasional one-liner and a paper-thin family who we barely noticed blip out of existence.
But at least now Hawkeye finally has his time to shine, even if it looks like this might be Jeremy Renner's last swing in the role. Much is made of Clint's general reluctance to be a hero here, and it would make sense to pass his baton down to Kate now as the new Hawkeye moving forward. Which is a shame for Clint really, because with this show, he's finally overcoming that pesky "branding issue.
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