Photo Credit: Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios
Hawkeye episode 1 is out now on Disney+ and Disney+ Hotstar, and it is all about introducing Kate Bishop to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She's not just a new character, but also the Marvel series' co-lead and expected to be the future Hawkeye, with our former Avenger (Jeremy Renner) training her to be more than an expert archer. At least, that's how the story goes in the Marvel comics that Hawkeye is inspired by. That would make Hawkeye the first MCU TV show on Disney+ to be centred so much on a new character. WandaVision was about Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany), The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was about Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), and Loki was about, well, Loki (Tom Hiddleston).
The last of them possibly comes closest to Hawkeye in that regard, with Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) being co-lead — but even that took a couple episodes. Here on Hawkeye, Kate Bishop is the focus right from the start. In fact, the series even begins with her. It's as if Marvel is telling you in big bold letters: Kate matters, Kate is the future. As such, a bulk of Hawkeye episode 1 is about setting up Kate and her circle: her family, her personality, and the enemies she makes. Speaking of, Hawkeye's Ronin costume and sword come into play. But Hawkeye episode 1 is not a dark examination of the Ronin legacy, it's a light-hearted affair. Fitting really, given the holiday spirit that Hawkeye is going for—the first MCU entry set during the Christmas period since Iron Man 3.
Hawkeye episode 1 — titled “Never Meet Your Heroes”, directed by Rhys Thomas, and written by Hawkeye creator Jonathan Igla — opens in 2012 at a New York penthouse where a young Kate Bishop (Clara Stack) lives with her mother Eleanor (Vera Farmiga) and her dad Derek (Brian d'Arcy James). Marvel fans with a bit of encyclopaedic knowledge know what is about to happen. We get an insight into the parents' fraught relationship, and the effect it has on Kate who is overhearing. Dad goes up to talk to Kate, and then asks her to have lunch with her mother. Later, Mom tells Kate to get Checkers so they can have some fun. As Kate goes up, she starts hearing things outside and the whole house starts shaking. Things go haywire from there, as the Chitauri invasion of New York has begun.
Amidst the chaos, a side wall of the house is blown to smithereens. As a dumbstruck Kate looks out the new hole in her home, Kate is saved from the incoming Chitauri by an arrow. Where did that arrow come from? In the distance, Kate sees Hawkeye (Renner) duking it out. He saved her even though he doesn't know it, and what he's doing — jumping from rooftops, swinging and firing arrows, it all looks cool — clearly leaves an unmistakable impression on her. Eleanor shows up behind Kate, and the two escape the crumbling penthouse. But Dad is nowhere to be seen.
At a funeral later in Hawkeye episode 1— it's clear Dad is gone — Kate wonders what happens if the Chitauri come back. Eleanor tells her they won't, because the heroes taught them a lesson. Kate says she needs to protect them, as we see the photo of Dad on a tomb. Eleanor says that's her job, and that she's there for whatever she needs. The reply? “I need a bow and arrow,” Kate says.
Hawkeye episode 1 cuts to present day, and a teenage Kate (Hailee Steinfeld) is a trained archer. She's on the university archery team it seems — but right now, she's just goofing around with her friends. They have a bet that involves using an arrow to ring a giant clocktower bell. It doesn't go well, but then Kate improvises and it goes a little too well. The clocktower is severely damaged, and as it starts to crumble, a security officer appears behind Kate. She's in serious trouble, you'd imagine.
Cut to New York where Hawkeye/ Clint Barton (Renner) and family are watching Rogers: The Musical, a stage play celebrating the life and achievements of the late Steve Rogers/ Captain America (Chris Evans) I presume. Right now, we are at the (musical re-enactment of the) 2012 Chitauri invasion of New York City, and how the Avengers saved the day. It seems the creator's memory is shot because they've put Ant-Man in the play as well — which as any Marvel follower would know is not true.
Clint isn't taking well to the musical though. Set aside the Ant-Man gaffe, seeing someone dress as up his Natasha Romanoff/ Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is adding to his grief. Hawkeye is set following the events of Avengers: Endgame, where Nat paid the ultimate price so Clint could live. Not wanting to tune into the play, Clint has turned off his hearing aid — he has a hearing aid?! — that his daughter Lila (Ava Russo) asks about. Clint whisks away to the bathroom where he's accosted by a dad who wants a selfie for his kids. He steps out of the theatre, where Lila comes to check on him. “Natasha was your best friend, everyone lost a lot but it was more for you,” she reminds him. As the other kids join him and Lila, they head to celebrate the night elsewhere.
Hawkeye episode 1 jumps back to Kate who has returned to New York from college. Eleanor asks her to come home, where Kate gets a lecture from her mother on her behaviour. The dean is going to make them replace an irreplaceable clock tower, for starters. “Young people think they are invincible, and rich people think they are invincible, and you have always been both. Take it from someone who hasn't, you're not (invincible). You will get hurt one day, don't go looking for it,” Eleanor adds. Hawkeye seems willing to discuss Kate's extreme privilege — and hopefully this won't be a stray dialogue that's ultimately forgotten.
After Kate apologises, Eleanor asks her to make it up to her by coming to the charity auction she's going to. Kate then pulls out her new medal she won at a martial arts championship. Eleanor jokes they might have to get rid of some old ones to make room for another medal — and drops in that Kate got her black medal at 15. For Hawkeye episode 1, this is all (necessary) exposition to tell us that Kate is a) an expert archer and b) skilled at fighting.
Kate turns around to see a sword resting as a showpiece, and wonders what's up with the sword. Just then, Jack Duquesne (Tony Dalton) walks in, who seems to be the new beau of Eleanor here in Hawkeye episode 1. This is curious because Marvel comics fans know Jack as Swordsman and an early mentor to Hawkeye. It's impossible to say at this point if Clint and Jack have history in the MCU, because that would be some coincidence. Anyhoo, Eleanor and Jack leave for the auction, and ask Kate to come soon.
Hawkeye episode 1 jumps back to Clint and family for a bit, who are at dinner having left Rogers: The Musical midway. Clint is trying to bond with the kids who are at very different ages. They call up mother Laura Barton (Linda Cardellini) who is not with them, so that Clint can have some alone time with the kids. They are going back home tomorrow, and Clint will get to spend a Christmas with them together for the first time in a long while. Usually, he's busy with Avengers stuff — plus Clint's family was gone for five years thanks to the Snap. You know, Thanos.
Now to the charity gala in Hawkeye episode 1, where Kate discovers via a conversation with Armand Duquesne (Simon Callow) — he is Jack's father — that Eleanor and Jack are going to get married. They share a bit of an awkward conversation before Armand (III) and his grandson Armand VII (Jonathan Bergman) make their way. Kate confronts her mother who apologises that she had to find out this way — the engagement is fast, yes, but she's feeling nice being swept up in the romance of it. Okay then.
Kate steps out for some air where she encounters a dog who has lost his left eye. This seems to be the introduction of Lucky the Pizza Dog, the Marvel comics character who has already been revealed in Hawkeye posters. While making her way back in, Kate listens in on a heated conversation between Armand III and her mother. Eleanor says that she built her empire from the ground up. Armand III warns her that he has powerful friends too, before he walks away. Kate tries to find out more from her mother, but she simply plays it off.
Kate follows Armand III down into a cellar where a secret auction is happening on items that owners can't say where they even got them. It's a black-market auction basically. Armand III is joined shortly after by Jack — and Kate listens in on them in Hawkeye episode 1. Armand says he's reached his breaking point with Eleanor and that things are about to get very ugly. Jack tells Armand III to leave Eleanor alone. Kate's server disguise starts to fall apart, but she finds a way to lose her tail inside what is a small cellar, so that's funny.
She then overhears another conversation between Russians — Kate sure does listen in a lot — but she can't tell what they are saying this time. They are definitely up to something though. As they step out and go their way, Kate goes back to observing Jack and Armand III who are competing for the next item: Ronin's sword. Recovered from the Avengers compound apparently. The Duquesne duo drive up the pricing before Armand III takes it for about half a million. As the auctioneer (Barry Ratcliffe) prepares the next lot (it's Ronin's costume), the wall behind the auctioneer blows up. Kate, Jack, Armand III and the rest of guests are thrown to the ground in Hawkeye episode 1.
It's the Russians obviously. What do they want? They want a watch apparently, one of them all but declares to the viewers. In the scramble meanwhile, Jack escapes with the Ronin sword, while Kate grabs the Ronin costume. You know what's about to happen. That takes us into Hawkeye's first action sequence, as Kate tries to be the hero dressed as Ronin. First, she saves Jack and Armand III — and then takes on the Russians wielding guns. All of it is set in the cellar so there's a lot of using wine bottles to beat up the minions.
Eventually, Kate escapes the cellar in Hawkeye episode 1 and goes above ground to discover a friend of the Russians gathering all the auction items. But that one-eyed dog from earlier arrives out of nowhere and starts pulling at his pants. Kate approaches and knocks the guy out, but the dog then runs away as Kate chases it. The dog runs into New York's busy streets and is caught there like a deer in headlights. Kate springs into action to rescue the dog. Just then, the Russians arrive — one of them takes off his mask to reveal what he looks like to the audience. He's called Kazi (Fra Fee) by his buddies. Hearing the police sirens in the distance, they take off.
Elsewhere in Hawkeye episode 1, the Bartons arrive at their hotel. Lila turns on the TV where they discover what happened at the charity gala: an explosion, frightened rich people, and cell phone footage that shows Ronin. Newscasters believe Ronin — the guy who terrorised organised crime — has resurfaced after years. This is triggering for Clint who was the real Ronin; Hawkeye episode 1 gives us a reminder of his time as Ronin using footage from Avengers: Endgame.
Meanwhile, Kate and the dog arrive at Kate's apartment, where she gives him the only food she has in her fridge: pizza. This is how Lucky the Pizza Dog starts to get his name in the MCU, I imagine. Kate then leaves to investigate Armand III and why he's buying swords on the black market. She breaks into Armand's house only to discover that Armand is dead, and she leaves just as the maid arrives.
Barely has she left Armand's place that she is accosted by the Russians from before. Guess they were following her. Kate is clearly outnumbered but she does her best to survive, before jumping in an unlocked car. Lucky! But that doesn't go well for long, as one of the big guys just smashes the window with his elbow. Just as she's about to be pulled out of the car, a mysterious individual starts taking out everyone. Kate is then pulled out and dragged into an alley, where the individual — it's Clint — unmasks her and is about to punch her, only to realise it's a kid. “You're Hawkeye,” Kate exclaims, to be greeted by: “Who the hell are you?”