Hawkeye is wrapping up an exciting year for the MCU. It’s proven to be a great choice to have the show set around the holidays. This show does enough with the holiday settings that it feels ingrained in its DNA. And as a special gift, we get the return of Vincent D’onofrio’s brilliant performance as Kingpin. We finally get some acknowledgment of the MCU Netflix shows, and it’ll make any fan of Daredevil happy. Not only that, but this finale brings some nice holiday cheer.
Story: Setting Up the Action
A lot of story beats and little moments come back beautifully in the finale. It’s hard to divorce in my head that since Hawkeye was supposed to be a movie, this feels like the final act that we would see in theaters. The stage is set at the Bishop’s Christmas Eve party, something that’s been talked about since the first episode. We’ve established a goal to stop Kingpin and save Eleanor from being assassinated. Meanwhile, Yelena is still after Clint because of Natasha’s death. While this episode is light on the plot, the story gets to run at a mile a minute.
Not in a bad way that too much is getting thrown too much at us, but because of the action. A lot of the references and bits to previous episodes are paid off during the big fight at the Christmas party. The numerous trick arrows to the LARPers bring a smile to anyone invested in this show. The show also does a pretty good job of setting up the Echo spin-off coming in the future. It doesn’t involve much time spent on-screen, but episode 5 did a lot of heavy lifting in this hour; it just smoothed over the edges.
Characters & Performance: Kingpin Returns
It’s the moment that everyone has waited for. We finally get to see the return of the Kingpin. And to this day, Vincent D’onofrio portrays the best villain in the MCU. While we saw him in the last episode for a brief second as a blurry picture, he’s in a handful of scenes. (Name) owns the limited screen time he’s granted. There’s a presence about him that’s deeply imitating that sends shivers down your spine. But also, Kingpin is dignified and well put together.
I know huge fans of Netflix’s Daredevil will be upset that he’s not exactly the same guy we saw last. But, just consider this in the Hawkeye context. His role in this show is to be the surprise reveal big bad, and that’s it. We’re not going to get the deep characterization we’re used to seeing because he’s not the main character. It’s similar to his role in season two of Daredevil. Fisk is only in a handful of episodes but greatly feels his presence. Same as what happened in Hawkeye. The context of Fisk in charge and the scene he’s in makes the threat that much more dangerous.
Our archer duo balances the villain threat, and it’s a cliche at this point to say how good they are together. It truly feels like Clint not only accepts Kate as a partner2 but also enjoys the company as well. It’s interesting how they handled their ending. Fans expected a typical passing of the torch, but it didn’t quite end like that. As long as we see this pair in action, the MCU is looking bright.
Cinematography & Sound: Combine the Comics & Movies
With Netflix’s Daredevil, they tried to make the setting as realistic as possible (or as close to the real world as the MCU could be.) It felt like Hawkeye took advantage of Kingpin being in such a faithful comic adaptation. While his physical stature is the same, shots of Wilson Fisk made him look larger than life. The menacing purple glow against the low angle of him sitting down looked like an artist drew it. They even added some elements like his cane or the outlandish Hawaiian outfit he once had into this episode.
The layout of Kingpin got the comic element right, while all of the action tapped into the feel of the movies. Having it set in the Bishop Christmas party then out in the open at Rockefeller center is such a good choice. The party superbly established the stakes and all the elements that were included. Then when we get the action rolling, it’ll keep you engrossed until the end. The best part is when Clint and Kate manage to take out the entire Tracksuit Mafia with just the bows on the back. It’ll prove to any doubter that Hawkeye should absolutely be in the Avengers. Also, I won’t spoil it here, but what the show did with the Rockefeller Christmas tree had me dying with laughter.
Editing & Pacing: The Right Pace This Whole Time
Throughout watching Hawkeye, the main concern I had was how they would wrap everything up. It seemed to build each week, but the resolution that the finale would have is a lot of pressure. Thankfully, this hour did a lot of heavy lifting, even with bringing a new major character on board. Having Kingpin here helped move the criminal conspiracy plot forward while involving the Bishop family drama because of Eleanor’s involvement. Also, Kingpin is involved with Echo, and the fallout from the last episode helped tie everything together.
It didn’t feel like they were rushing anything or there was too much getting thrown at the viewer. Maybe with the MCU, you need to sit back and just trust them. They already have such a great track record that overthinking may lead to more harm than good. Even with some decisions that had fans outraged (which I won’t spoil), you can see some of the seeds in the editing. It’s little moments, but don’t be surprised when it comes back later.