Over the past decade, Marvel fans have witnessed the Avengers’ ace archer Clint Barton (aka Hawkeye) battle cosmic invaders in New York, travel through time and space, and even throw down with Thanos. What they haven’t seen is Jeremy Renner’s superhero brush his teeth or attend a Broadway show with his kids.
“When he’s out in public, he’s in costume with the Avengers and fighting aliens,” says Renner. But the new Disney+ series “Hawkeye” (first two episodes streaming Wednesday, then weekly) catches up with the title do-gooder as he goes on a leisurely holiday vacation to New York City, downplays his celebrity and takes on street-level bad guys – all part of Clint’s journey as much as the huge, galactic stuff in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “He’s always been very human and so accessible that way, but now we have to see him fumble around with patience and tolerance.”
It’s good to have a running partner. The six-episode series finds Clint in Manhattan with his kids to see “Rogers: The Musical” (the big showstopper: “We Could Do This All Day”), a cheesy Broadway spectacular based on the Avengers’ heroic exploits.
Clint reads about news the night they are due to depart. a masked figure on the loose wearing the costume of the assassin Ronin, the mantle Clint wore tearing a bloody path through the criminal underworld after Thanos wiped his family (and half the population) out of existence for five years (see: “Avengers: Endgame”).
Clint identifies the perpetrator and is able to track him down.Kate Bishop (Hailee Steingfeld) is the one wearing the mask. She’s an ace with a bow and arrow who idolizes Hawkeye, accidentally happens upon the Ronin outfit and finds herself targeted by the vengeful bros of the Tracksuit Mafia. Clint takes his children with him, promising to be back in time for Christmas. But, that’s only six days. He has just six days to make sure Kate and Lucky are safe, as well settle any old disputes.
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Instead of dealing with MCU supervillains, Kate trained to be a protector for her family, including mom Eleanor (Vera Farmiga), after a childhood tragedy. “She sees being a hero as something that is just so wonderful and fun and exciting, and you get to jump from one building to another and you’re shooting your bow and arrow and you’re really good at it,” says Steinfeld, 24. “But the stakes are a lot higher than she could ever really imagine until Clint finally gets through to her, which takes a minute because she can’t get past the fact that it’s him and they’re on the run together.”
Just as “WandaVision” did for a pair of his fellow Avengers, “Hawkeye” makes Clint a more prominent character than ever, but he’s still the hard-luck hero whose best friend Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) sacrificed herself to save him in “Endgame.” He bristles when someone tries to buy dinner for him and his kids. “He’s very comfortable in being a superhero: It’s his job, it’s what he’s born to do, to serve, to help, to be actionable,” Renner says. “What he’s not comfortable with is the fame.”
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What Steinfeld finds “so awesome and beautiful” about their relationship is that“Kate is this refreshing reminder that he is a good person and she is somebody who doesn’t define him by his past but sees him for who he is, and realizes that he, much like her, wants to help people and get home and be with his family.”
Comparable to “WandaVision,” the “Falcon and the Winter Soldier”, and “Loki”, “Hawkeye,” is the most straightforward Marvel Disney+ project. But grounding the MCU has been Hawkeye’s modus operandi since Renner first cameoed as the shadowy S.H.I.E.L.D. secret agent in 2011’s “Thor.”
In 2015, “Avengers: Age of Ultron” introduced audiences to Clint’s family (including Linda Cardinelli as his wife, Linda), which brought a dose of humanity to “aliens and interplanetary travel and lightning and hammers and (Chris Hemsworth’s) long flowing hair,” Renner says. In the same movie, Hawkeye had a heart to-heart conversation with Wanda Maximoff (“Elizabeth Olsen”) about what it meant to become an Avenger.
“That’s part of what a superhero is. It requires selflessness,” Renner says. “Is he the MCU dad? Maybe he is. He’s got to do the dirty work, clean up the mess.”
Steinfeld believes Clint is more like a friend that a colleague.father figure, “as adventurous and daring and risk-taking” as Kate. He does have a moment of fatherhood in the car chase sequence, in which Kate fires trick arrows from a fast car, and Clint must drive away from any more dangerous. “If there was a Hawkeye ride at Disneyland, this would be the ride,” Renner says.
It’s moments like that, and performing Renner’s old jump-off-the-building-and-shoot-up-in-the-air bit from 2012’s “Avengers,” that reminded Steinfeld of why she signed on for the show: “I would even look at him and be like, ‘How are we able to call this work?’ ”
Continue Repeatingthat signature move several years later was “a little bit more painful” for Renner, but “I’m 50 and in tights. It’s a look I love. Good,” he jokes. “It’s a blessing, man. I take the job seriously, but never lose sight of how much fun I’m having and getting to see her reactions to a lot of things brings me a lot of joy as well.”