December 31, 2021

“Hawkeye” Shows the Biggest Problem with Marvel’s Disney+ Shows

After the release of Black Widow, Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye was the only original Avengers character to not have his own solo venture. Now, in the same year, that’s come to us in the form of a six-episode Disney+ series, which, for the most part, was enjoyable — it’s better than Falcon and the Winter Soldier, but not as good as Loki, What If…? and WandaVision — which is a shame, because I really wanted to love it. I’ve always liked the character of Hawkeye, and this series had a lot going for it. Unfortunately, it fell into the trap many of the Marvel Disney+ series have so far.

The entire series seems to be written with anticipation, edging towards a major reveal near the end that eclipses what we’re supposed to be caring about. Rumors don’t help, but come on — there are a lot of those, most of them just theories, and many of them prove to be untrue anyway. Of course, the major Hawkeye reveal (which I won’t spoil here) did turn out to be leaked beforehand, but it was still kept under wraps rather well for most of the show’s run…until the last few episodes.

These problems have manifested in different forms, depending on the series. With WandaVision (the first), it was purely rumors — rumors that the character of Mephisto would appear and be behind everything, rumors that Doctor Strange would appear in the finale — and the actors didn’t exactly help. Paul Bettany himself said that there was a big cameo in WandaVision’s finale that hadn’t been leaked yet, and “[they had] fireworks together.” He was, of course, referring to the character of White Vision, also played by Bettany. It’s an expert troll, but might be seen as frustrating by fans expecting something more.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, on the other hand, didn’t have this issue until a “major cameo” was teased for the fifth episode, “guaranteed to make you cry.” This turned out to be Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Valentina, a character that had never appeared in the MCU before, which, rather expectedly, didn’t do much for a lot of people.

See the pattern? It’s typically later in the show’s run, and usually used as a clever tool to increase excitement about the finale. With Hawkeye, I want to be involved with Clint (Renner) and Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld)’s journey, and the various twists and turns it takes, but there’s a lot to be said that it’s sometimes hard to focus on what’s currently happening when I find myself solely thinking about what’s going to happen next. I’m always thinking “Is that a clue about this character?” “When is this character coming in?” Maybe it’s my fault for getting too ahead of myself, but I think at least some of the blame in this situation lies with the people behind the show.

I understand that the job of these creatives and actors are to hype up the series and build anticipation for it, but when the promises get too big and are blown out of proportion (admittedly, the media has a big hand in this), it creates unrealistic expectations that make the show all about this surprise reveal, usually a very brief one, when the show should be about its lead characters and we should be excited to see what happens to them next. This may be a larger issue about comic book fandom as a whole, but it’s been a noticeable trend in this year’s MCU TV series.

This isn’t to say that this is a problem that affects everyone. Causal viewers, of which I am not one, are likely not as affected by these, as I can imagine many of them are just along for the ride. Additionally, I’m sure these tension builds are exciting for others — I, of course, don’t speak for everyone, but I’ve seen this cited multiple times as something that brings down peoples’ enjoyment levels of these series.

Not every Marvel Cinematic Universe series needs to have major cameos. It’s fun when it happens, and best when it services the story instead of just being needless fan service. Hawkeye didn’t necessarily do the best job of this, and only made me want to watch another Marvel series (featuring the surprise character) instead. Hopefully, as we enter the new year, Marvel will learn from their mistakes and strike a balance with anticipation and character focus in their series.

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