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Hawkeye Has Problematic Start

by Jana Monji, AsAmNews Arts & Culture Contributor

The Disney+ series Hawkeye means to explore the consequences of Clint Barton’s vigilante actions during the Blip and the first two episodes are nowhere near the quality of the same network’s Mandalorian or Loki. In the first two episodes, there’s plenty of everyday misinformation to give parents reason to worry and the chemistry of the actors as well as the script aren’t promising either.

Hawkeye is one of the superheroes that could have easily have been switched to an Asian American face and that would have made the Ronin alter ego of Clint Barton more understandable. Instead, it’s just another aspect of cultural appropriation by Marvel. For the Hawkeye series, Jeremy Renner returns to reprise his role, but newcomer Hailee Steinfeld enters into the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Kate Bishop, a spoiled rich girl. Steinfeld gives the film some diversity: She is part African American, part Filipina and part Jewish. 

Also introduced is the character Maya Lopez who in Marvel Comics is a Native American (of the Cheyenne Nation) and born deaf. Alaqua Cox, who plays Lopez, belongs to both the Menominee and Mohican nations and was born deaf. She is also an amputee with a prosthetic leg.

Both Cox and Steinfeld are a diversity bonus. Diversity is a positive, but, that doesn’t mean there’s isn’t some cultural appropriation going on here.

The first episode (written by Jonathan Igla) begins with the attack by the Chitauri and the destruction of Stark Tower Complex in Midtown Manhattan, NYC. As a young girl, Kate Bishop had been listening to her parents (Brian D’Arcy James as Derek Bishop and Vera Farmiga as Eleanor Bishop) discussing moving when the attack occurs. Kate sees the destruction of Stark Tower.

Fast forward to a post-Thanos induced Blip, and Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) is taking his three kids–Cooper (Ben Sakamoto), Lila (Ava Russo) and Nathaniel (Cade Woodward)–out to a hilariously bad musical, Rogers: The Musical, about the Avengers saving the world.  Elsewhere, the grown-up Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) is causing her widowed mother consternation after Kate’s archery prank on a wintry evening destroys the bell tower and clock of her private college.  Later, Kate attends a big dinner charity event with her mother and her mother’s suspicious fiancé Jack (Tony Dalton). While there, Kate slips into a black market auction and through unexpected events, ends up with the Ronin costume and wearing it. That brings her to the attention of Clint Barton who sends the kids home to his wife Laura (Linda Carellini) because he knows that the mob bad guys in tracksuits will be out to exact revenge on Ronin.

Also up for grabs at the auction? A retractable sword and a watch. All were pulled from the debris of the Avengers’ compound. Along the way, there will also be a one-eyed Golden Retriever that will be fed pizza. In the second episode (written by Elisa Climent), after a fire in Kate’s spacious apartment, the Ronin costume gets into the hands of Grills (Clayton English) and Clint has to do some LARPing to get it from him. 

There is so much misinformation here that is reality-based. First, if you have a cool or expensive knife or sword and you want to display it, you don’t display it with the blade down on its stand as seen in the first episode. Second, for a treat, it is okay to give a small piece of pizza to a dog, but cheese, garlic and bread are not good for dogs. 

When Clint and Kate both get wounded, Clint decides to treat this with rubbing alcohol. Do not try this at home. According to webmed.com

Using hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol to clean an injury can actually harm the tissue and delay healing. The best way to clean a minor wound is with cool running water and mild soap. Rinse the wound for at least five minutes to remove dirt, debris, and bacteria. Wounds that are large, deep, or bleeding nonstop should be treated by a professional.

There are more questionable things happening here for cinematic purposes such as archery with long hair, particularly wavy hair…on a day with a slight breeze. Hair was an issue brought up recently at the summer Olympics.

For a fuller discussion of these troubling points of misinformation, you can read my blog entry on Hawkeye.

For those wondering about Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova, she isn’t introduced until episode 3 according to IMDb

Usually, I’d like to see 3 episodes to get a feel for a series, but Disney only offered two. The two episodes had good production values, but while I enjoyed the scenes of Renner with the actors playing his children, I didn’t feel there was great chemistry between Renner and Steinfeld. The fight scenes were not exceptional. The scripting was not particularly clever (except for the hilarious faux Rogers musical) or well-researched. The messy misinformation spread from the two episodes is really hard to justify. 

I also found it amusing that while in these episodes, the focus is the identity of and the bad blood caused by the character given a Japanese name (Ronin), but subtitles are only in English, German (Germany), French (France), Italian (Italy), Chinese (Traditional), Korean, Portuguese (Brazil) Spanish (Spain) and Spanish (Latin America). It might have been interesting to read the Japanese translations if it had been offered. .

Hawkeye will release its first two episodes on 24 November 2021. The third episode will release on 1 December 2021. 

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