Warning: The following contains spoilers for all of the MCU, Hawkeye episodes 1 and 2, and the Hawkeye comics series. Read at your own risk.
There's basically no short and sweet version of me talking about the first two episodes of Hawkeye. There's a version where I sit here and say to my past self "Self, you should've listened to that instinct to do an article specifically about the comics before the show aired" because woo boy did that turn out to be true. But there's no version where we don't talk about the comics. And also, me being me, where we don't go deep into the New York settings and obviously Rogers the Musical. Especially since I already discussed the latter for about five thousand years before the show even aired so, yanno. Buckle up.
Oh and also I suppose I should talk about the actual episodes at some point.
So yeah, get some tea and a comfy spot. We're going to be here a while.
I do like our tradition of giving a quick review before we dig into it but the issue is I don't feel ready to give a quick review. Like I didn't hate it, that's for sure. But at the same time we have two issues. One is that I have the impression that these first two episodes aren't really meant to be judged on their own. I'll get into the specifics of this later but the short version is there are absolutely things I could point to and say don't make sense but at the same time we're dealing with a full on murder mystery. It's far too early to judge what's bad writing vs deliberate misdirects.
The other issue is that frankly I've been burned by Loki. You may recall I actually enjoyed the first episode of Loki and had high hopes for the series. Then I saw the rest of the series and the bitterness is still very real. This is entirely a me thing and not a Hawkeye thing and I own it. But when I was burned by Lovecraft Country to the point that I was reluctant to judge WandaVision until the final episode aired, and then that final episode proved my lack of faith was warranted - again there's trust issues.
Therefore the only short version I can give is there were parts I liked and parts I didn't like but I feel like it's too early to judge any of it. That is not a bad thing, just me saying I feel the choice of how they're telling the story means it's not fair to give a passing or failing grade at this stage. We'll have to take it all in when the series is over.
What we can do is talk about specifics, though, so let's get into that. And we start by talking about the comics.
MCU Hawkeye And 616 Hawkguy
There's no form of talking about this show without talking about the Hawkeye comic series which was published from 2012-2015. Among the names who worked on the series are Matt Fraction, David Aja, Matt Hollingsworth, Annie Wu, Javier Pulido, Steve Lieber, Jesse Hamm, and Francesco Francavilla. There are more, but point being it takes a village to make a comic and the Hawkeye comic was no exception.
Matt Fraction and David Aja get the most credit for the series because Matt did the writing and David did the majority of the artwork. In particular he did the artwork that made the series famous. And let's get this nice and clear right out of the gate: There is no Hawkeye show without both Matt and David but David has been screwed over royally by Disney in terms of credit (a simple "thanks" compared to Matt's "consulting producer") and money (absolutely none other than what he was paid for the original comics.)
The Hawkeye show is taking everything from David's visuals. I'll explain why the visuals mattered so much in a sec but understand the second that Disney announced that there was going to be a Hawkeye show and used the comics logo for the show logo it was making it clear to everyone who knew that they were translating the comic to screen and what they could expect.
Now that the show is here we can see they aren't just using the logo but every one of the distinct visuals in terms of design, blocking, posters, credit sequence, and more. At which point let me say bless you to this person on Twitter who did the work of putting the comparison together so you can see that this isn't even a vague "inspired by" or winking Easter egg. This is flat out David's work and it is complete bullshit they're not compensating him for it. Yes, entirely legal by the nature of the contracts but those contracts are themselves bullshit and need to be changed.
Part of the reason why this matters, beyond the abuse of a working relationship, is that the Hawkeye comics are what made Hawkeye become a popular character in modern times. Now before long time fans of Clint get their boomerang arrows ready let me assure you that I'm not erasing you. I'm a Carol Danvers fangirl through and through and have loved her for a while but at the same time we can't deny that what propelled Carol into superstardom was Kelly Sue DeConnick's run with her when she became Captain Marvel. We're not talking about any fans we're talking about a significant increase in fans and a raising of the character's profile further into the mainstream.
What people tend to forget is that when Avengers came into the theaters the Fraction and Aja Hawkeye (which I'm going to call "Hawkguy" because it's a running gag in the comic and an easy way to distinguish the comic series from the characters and show) didn't exist yet. MCU Hawkeye wasn't based on his 616 counterpart but rather, like most of the MCU, on his Ultimates version.
For those who aren't comics fans, the Ultimates universe was one of many attempts to provide a fresh take on known comics characters. It is responsible for some very good things (Miles Morales, the Samuel L Jackson version of Nick Fury, nearly every costume design used in the MCU down to what Tony wears under his suits) and some very not so good things (Wanda and Pietro were actually fucking and yes they were still twins.)
Ultimately (heh) that universe was gotten rid of and the best of it folded into 616, and this is where the MCU led the way. In general the MCU takes its inspiration from the best of all comics versions of the characters and adds their own spin.
MCU Hawkeye, however, was in a tough spot because he wasn't a character blessed with a great deal of screentime. In the lead in to the show I saw an article headline that was something like "Clint Barton's 8 Greatest MCU Moments" and my immediate reaction was to wonder if he'd had eight proper scenes in the entirety of the MCU at all, let alone ones that stood out as the great ones.
Which is not me knocking the character! Dude simply doesn't have a lot of screentime. Until Black Widow Natasha didn't have much either (though still more than Clint, which tells you how much he was lacking).
But what little characterization we did have, namely that Clint exists, he is an archer, he wears a certain kind of outfit, and he has a wife and kids, all came from his Ultimates self. To the point that when the wife and kids was revealed in Age of Ultron many in the audience scratched their heads because Ultimates Clint had long been forgotten in favor of the Hawkguy version which had come out after Avengers.
This then creates an interesting dichotomy where I would be genuinely interested in knowing how many people who say they are fans of MCU Clint do so because in their minds he is Hawkguy Clint just waiting to happen. Which I suspect is a lot given how much Hawkguy is known as a key take on the character. Likewise it's not for nothing that Hawkguy is what we're finally getting with the show.
There were many things which made the Hawkeye series as good as it was. Among those things was the characterization of Clint. Yes, Clint was an Avenger but he was also human. He had human problems, like getting battered and bruised in fights, not being able to figure out how to record his favorite TV show, and feeling overwhelmed by his life and the world in general. He wasn't a snappy, quippy character like Tony, he was a regular guy trying his best and fully aware that some days your best isn't that great. Hence "Hawkguy." It doesn't just sound like "Hawkeye" it's about how Clint is, well, just a guy.
On top of all that you had notable characters introduced to the Marvel universe like the Tracksuit Mafia and Lucky the Dog. You also had Kate Bishop as Hawkeye (not female Hawkeye, not Hawkeye's sidekick, but Hawkeye, same as Clint). Though she was younger than Clint, Clint considered her a peer rather than a mentee and even claimed she was the better Hawkeye of the both of them.
Not that Kate was perfect by any means but I'll talk about that more when we get into the show. (Which I will do eventually here, I swear.) But the important thing was that she was a counterpoint to Clint, and just as much a main character of the series as he was. There were even entire stretches of comics that were just about her, which sadly confused some people who missed the part where the series was called "Hawkeye" and not "Clint Barton" which is another thing I'll get into when we talk about the show.
Finally the thing that made the series what it was is, again, David Aja's artwork. First and foremost because the style of the artwork of simple, basic versions of the characters and settings (enhanced by Matt Hollingsworth's monochromatic color palettes) reinforced the way that Clint's own life wasn't something fully detailed and figured out. Then you had the standout issues of #11 "Pizza is my Business" in which the story and artwork are entirely from the point of view of Lucky the Dog and #19 "The Stuff That Won't Get Spoke" in which Clint is deafened and the artwork depicts what it is like to perceive the world through hearing loss, including the use of empty speech bubbles and untranslated sign language to convey dialogue.
Ask anybody to name things they like about Clint Barton and these are highly likely to be the first words that trip off their tongue: Hawkguy, Katie Kate, Pizza Dog, Tracksuit Mafia (bro!), Clint using hearing aids and sign language, and so on. I'm not saying he hasn't had great moments in other comics but the fact remains this series was a benchmark for the character.
All of which goes back to why, when they announced the show, the first thing they did was throw up the logo from the comic. They knew this is what the audience was dying for.
That being said, one of the challenges of translating Hawkguy to the MCU is that part of what made Hawkguy work is where he started: he wasn't married. In fact he was divorced ("ex-wife" is one of the few words Lucky can recognize), had no kids, had awkward relationships with his exes, and generally had no idea of what direction his life should be going in. A man who is a semi-retired hero with a beloved wife, three kids, and a farm he just risked life and limb and his best friend in order to recover is not in the same mental state.
Which isn't to say it can't work! I'm just saying that I think it's worthwhile to acknowledge that the show can't one to one translate Hawkguy to the screen and nor should it. The MCU needs to stand on its own with its own take on the stories and characters it is inspired by.
I mention this to be clear that at no point am I sitting here ready to "Um, ACTUALLY in the comic the way this happened is..." the show. It's just that when the show is pulling so much directly from the comics it does then become fair to judge if they did a good job of translating it from page to screen. Not did they do it exactly but did they do a good version of it for the MCU.
So let's start talking about that.
Oh Hey Some Episodes Happened, Let's Chat About Them
Did I or did I not warn you this was going to get wordy? If you didn't make a cup of tea when I told you that's on you.
Anyway, the show itself! I'm clumping both episodes together because that's how they aired and frankly I feel like they really aren't separate episodes. The impression I got is that the series is a single story told in a long form where the end of the episode isn't so much putting a pin in the final part of a specific story beat so much as it is okay we hit about an hour of showing you stuff and we have to stop now.
Which isn't a bad thing! It just means that is part of why I'm holding back judgement on some of the story aspects until we can see the whole thing. Which I'll talk about in a sec.
The standout of the show is, of course, Hailee Steinfeld as Kate Bishop. I want to give credit here to the writing, directing, and Hailee's acting because Kate is a character you can very easily get wrong.
Kate's comics counterpart, who they are directly drawing MCU Kate from, is interesting for many reasons but one of which is that she is a young woman at that stage of life where she's old enough to strike out on her own but not yet experienced enough in what she tries to do. Kate's weakness, if she can be said to have one, is that she frequently gets out over her skis, as the saying goes. She takes more steps than she was ready for and then has to deal with the realization she's in a situation where she's not as adept as she'd like to be.
It's a tricky balance to create in a character because it could very easily turn into making Kate a hyper-competent character without a real flaw or a hyper-incompetent character who never does anything right. Based on the early trailers for the show which emphasized slapstick moments with Kate, I worried we would be getting a lot of the latter option. I was therefore very happy to see that instead they were hitting the notes wonderfully: there's things Kate is good at because she's not a useless person, but there are things she doesn't yet know how to do which makes sense for her age. Loved it.
On top of this the impression I have after two episodes it that the "Hawkeye" of the show title is meant to be Kate. She's who we get introduced to at the start, she's the one who is the focus of the entirely David Aja based credit sequences, she's the one whose motivations we understand, and she's the one we spend the most screen time with.
All of which is, as I mentioned above, drawn from the comics. So I'll be interested to see how the show unfolds and if they stick with Kate being our primary focus or if they go back and forth between Clint and Kate as the main character.
(I'll be 100% honest: I have no problem if they stick with Kate. My only suggested improvement is if they make Lucky the main character but I think we can all agree with that.)
Clint, on the other hand, is an interesting one. I know some fans of Clint absolutely loved these two episodes but his characterization didn't really gel for me. To be clear on any bias I may have: I like Hawkguy but I'm not a fan of MCU Clint. To me we never knew enough about MCU Clint to form any opinions of him and what little things we did know, such as him going off on a serial killer spree after the Snapture, didn't impress me.
So any attempt to force MCU Clint into his Hawkguy counterpart is entirely fine by me. For instance, I have zero problem with retconning it that MCU Clint had hearing loss. To me that's a step in the right direction of course correcting. It is a bit "Dumbledore was gay this whole time" as far as representation goes, granted, but still. I'd rather have it than not have it so my personal standards here are low.
In terms of other parts of translation, I don't know that they have yet done the work they need to. And I really want to stress yet here because like I said I truly feel this can't be judged until the last scene of the series. But since I'm writing now about what I've seen so far, I will say to me there's work that needs to be done on Clint's mental state.
As I said before, I'm not here all "Well Clint isn't single and he doesn't own an apartment building and blah blah blah so everything is WRONG!" about it. You can absolutely translate the feelings and concepts of Hawkguy into MCU Clint. And I do think they're trying to do it. I think what they're trying to do is, instead of Clint being an adult who doesn't yet think he's got adulting figured out, is have this older and more mature family man Clint in a place where his issues are trauma over losing Natasha combined with guilt over what he did as Ronin. It's not the exact same start point but it can get him to a similar place of him questioning if he's good enough to be considered a hero.
Where the problem comes in is that for me they're not selling it well enough yet. When Kate gives Clint the speech about how he can be an inspiration I liked it fine enough but didn't feel like I'd been shown that Clint didn't think of himself this way. Not that I thought Clint was going around all "I'm so great, I'm the best Avenger ever!" but neither did I feel he was thinking he wasn't worth the time of day either.
I loved that they showed he was clearly traumatized by losing Nat. That moment of him freaking out when he looked at fake Nat on the stage was well done. But other than Lila acknowledging that Clint missed Nat more than most nothing convinced me this was an emotion that was shaping Clint's day to day life.
Likewise while you can absolutely sell me on Clint feeling guilty about what he did as Ronin at no point did the flashbacks of it show me anything except that they wanted to remind the audience that Clint had been Ronin. This wasn't Clint's inner tortured memories it was "Previously on the MCU...."
And I'm gonna be honest, I don't think Renner's doing the work. Hailee is, no doubt. There isn't a moment when you can't figure out Kate's thoughts, goals, worries, and motivations. But with Clint it's like.... eh? Consider the LARP scene. The only vibe I got off of him was he was tired and over it all. Which is fine but in which case why did he go through with it? He spent hours doing something that he himself said could've been solved with a single punch (or use another option if he didn't want to get violent). And when Grills later tried to indicate that maybe Clint had fun I had no impression that that was supposed to be an option for him emotionally.
Now one of the things from the comics is that Hawkguy is a great depiction of someone with depression, particularly the type where the world feels flat and you can't summon up any emotions about anything. But again I don't get enough of a sense that this is what the show is trying to do.
Another issue with why Clint's not working for me is that the Ronin suit is a very strange MacGuffin to hang the plot on. I'm fine for this being how Kate got his attention. I'm especially fine with Kate not knowing the suit was his because the impression the trailers gave was that she was as much a Ronin fangirl as she was a Hawkguy fangirl and woo boy would that have been problematic. But once Clint knew who Kate was and knew Kate was in danger from the Tracksuit Mafia you had all the motivation you needed for Clint to stick around and help. Him being obsessed with a suit he didn't even know still existed until he saw Kate wearing it makes zero sense.
But in the interest of fairness: maybe it's not supposed to make sense yet. Maybe we're building up to a reveal that there's a picture of Nat in the sleeve that Clint thought was lost forever, or there's some hidden technology in it, or a piece of Nathaniel's baby blanket, or something that makes it more than just some clothing. So I'm fine for withholding final judgement but at the same time it's weird to be two episodes in and expected to believe that we're supposed to give this much of a shit about a black and gold onesie.
Other things I'm withholding judgement on include Eleanor and the murder mystery. I mean as presented Eleanor looks like the worst mother. The apartment is crashing down and neither she nor Kate's dad immediately come running to see how Kate is doing? It looks bad but maybe it's supposed to look bad. Like maybe we'll find out something about how Kate's dad died which shows why he and Eleanor were too busy to find Kate right away. (Which I also hope if for no other reason than it's a criminal use of Brian D'Arcy James to only have him on the show in a blink and you'll miss it moment.)
As for the murder mystery, stuff like the butterscotch feels like a long fucking walk for a clue that's not a great clue. Like you can practically hear the writer's room discussion of "But how will she know it's the same butterscotch?" "I know! It's monogrammed!"
But regardless of how Kate recognizes it, it's not a great clue because we're talking about the guy's nephew. He had plenty of reason to be at the apartment at any time, not the least of which was that morning to help deal with the dead body. However does this mean they're writing the mystery badly or is it a deliberate red herring for Kate? Way too early to say.
Another thing I'm withholding judgement on is the dynamic between Kate and Clint. In the comic series the two of them were already at the point where their relationship could be more like peers. However that was also because there were previous interactions with them in the comics that the series could build on. Obviously that's not possible in the MCU when this is the first time they're meeting in person. Likewise showing the development of a peer like relationship is a great and classic character arc for a series so it makes sense to me that this is perhaps something the show has as an end goal rather than a start point.
That being said I'm not fond of the way the show, through Clint, is treating Kate in a dismissive manner. For example the first aid scene. I'm fine for Clint, who is a father, defaulting to dad mode when dealing with someone younger than himself. I'm even fine for him helping her with first aid. What I'm not fine with is the idea that Kate, who has been established as an accomplished archer, gymnast, and martial artist, has apparently never had a cut or a bruise in all that time. Like I'm sorry but that goes right to the myth that girls' sports don't require effort, they just require girls to be flexible and pretty. When in reality any one of those sports would not only mean Kate is well familiar with being injured but also working through injuries to go on and get her medals anyway.
Kate as privileged person who doesn't fully know suffering? Totally fine and in line with her comics character to boot. Kate as someone who has never so much as broken a nail before? Utter horseshit in the context of the show, let alone anywhere else.
So yeah, hopefully that gets better with time.
Finally there isn't enough Pizza Dog. Pizza Dog should be in every scene. Also stop leaving the poor animal alone in apartments all day without proper food or anybody taking him out for walks! GAH!
Speaking of things for me to be nitpicky about...
The New York of it All
This isn't going to be as long but as a local it amuses me to see how they handled being able to film on location. And to be clear this is me noticing with bemusement and pointing things out for the benefit of those who aren't from the area. This is me very much doing the "Aw, tell me you put the characters in Louisiana without knowing a thing about Louisiana" thing again. "Aww, cute!" and not "Um, FAIL!" as it were.
I assume the skating rink used in the establishing shot is meant to be the Rockefeller Center Rink since using that rink to establish "Christmas/Winter in New York City" is as much of a given as using the Space Needle to tell people your show takes place in Seattle. But whatever they filmed isn't that rink.
They gave incorrect addresses for some of the locations used but again this isn't a fail so much as a chuckle if you know why. For instance the building the party takes place in is behind St Patrick's Cathedral which, if you look on a map, is just down the street from Rockefeller Center. In other words Clint would've absolutely felt the explosion happen when he was taking his family to see the tree, so of course they had to say the party was further up north on Park Avenue and 68th street.
As a local, I appreciated the detail that Kate came out of Grand Central Station because odds are high her college is either in upstate New York or Connecticut and either of those options means she'd be taking Metro North to get back into the city, not Amtrak (which goes to Penn Station). That being said, they went through some interesting visual hoops to get around the issue that the former Avengers Tower is on the same block as Grand Central and thus you should've been able to see it (though hey: no shame in saving on your FX budget when it comes to unnecessary details like that).
Semi related, though, a "tell me you don't know how things work in New York" moment is Kate being ignorant of Avengers Tower being sold. Like I'm sorry but unless Kate was not only snapped but also blipped back yesterday she would 100% been aware that the tower was sold. Notable real estate deals like that make the news here. Even if Kate wasn't an Avengers fangirl she would've been aware of it. I'll buy that maybe nobody yet knows who bought the building, but it's a giant building over Grand Central with a fucking logo on the side. People know if it got sold.
Another "tell me you don't know how things work in New York" moment is Kate finding a car with all of its doors unlocked. AHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAhAAHAHAHAAHAA no.
And finally, for now, there's how when talking to the cop both Kate and he simply agree she'll see him tomorrow. Because as we all know New York City famously only has the one single police station so it's not like either of them needed to establish where Kate actually needed to go.
You Knew This Was Coming: Rogers the Musical
So! How about that musical, huh?
Here's the thing first and foremost: the show used actual Broadway people to put on Rogers the Musical and for that I am always going to be grateful. Broadway was hit especially hard by the pandemic. Shows shutting down put a lot of people out of work and many of them, due to the nature of their jobs, did not get access to the relief money that other folks put out of work by the pandemic did. I'm sorry if this comes off as surprisingly hokey or sincere from yours truly but again: I fucking love Broadway. It kills me how much it was hurt in these past two years so I am literally with tears in gratitude for Hawkeye or any other production that helped these folks find some employment.
To that end, I'm also going to shamelessly plug some charities if you have the means and would like to help those who have been struggling because of the pandemic. Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is one and the Costume Industry Coalition is another. The people helped by these charities are not limited to New York because Broadway isn't limited to New York either. So yeah, if you can, please send some money their way because it will go to good use by those who need it.
That being said of course I'm going to overanalyze a fake musical. The question is if I'll stop.
If I had to boil down my thoughts about Rogers: The Musical it's that I want to get my hands on the Playbill. Specifically I want to know the act structure because where in the hell does "Save the City" fall??
Let's back up.
First and foremost you should be as grateful as I am that the actual song we heard was not an attempt at being Hamilton. You do not want to know how deep a dive I would've gone into analyzing an attempt at Hamilton. I have videos and citations, people. Steve only wishes he could do it all day as much as I can on arguing about musicals.
So yes, loved that they went with a much more classic broad - ahem - Broadway parody of a song up to and including the we are happy / we are merry / we have a rhyming dictionary style pairings of "The rent and garbage are both sky high / But 'I love New York' is our battle cry!" I mean combine that with the electric guitar licks and it's just - chef's kiss - perfection. Making it awful was absolutely the way to go and I love that they leaned fully into that complete with actual Broadway performers singing the shit out of it as seriously as they could.
On a meta level though I am once again driven insane by how the people who live in the MCU have apparently watched the movies of the MCU because since when do people know Steve says "I can do this all day"? Since when do they know about shawarma, which was depicted as a rare quiet moment for the team?
Yes, yes, you can get me to explanations of that. I'm not saying we can't fanwank it. But when you combine it with things like how familiar Darcy and others were with the events of Infinity War and Endgame it creates an overall impression that the people who live there are frankly metagaming their knowledge of their own world. And frankly I'm even fine for handwavily saying that everyone got the knowledge somehow but then make it universal that they have the knowledge of every fucking thing. Either everyone knows Bucky's the Winter Soldier or they don't. Either the world knows exactly how many seconds Wanda was able to hold off Thanos or Kate was oblivious to Avengers Tower being sold. Pick one!
In terms of the reality of it all, yes, famous people see Broadway shows all the time and are able to do so with minimal disruptions. In general New Yorkers are very chill about celebrities and leave them alone. On top of that show etiquette is that you shut the fuck up and watch. Yes, some might approach during intermission or outside the theater, but in general celebs can sit and watch the show same as everyone else. I've seen it personally multiple times.
What is weird is that Clint would not be considered a random audience member. I'm fine for how maybe he skipped Opening Night which he 100% would have been given an invite to. But if he was coming they would know he was coming. He wouldn't necessarily have a better seat - I've seen famous people with seats comparable to where he and the kids were sitting and even further back - but it'd be known he was there. He and the kids would be invited back after the show to meet the performers and the like. It would also have been hugely noticeable if he and the kids left early. Gossip columns have made years-long meals off of less.
Granted it could be that Clint bought tickets under a false name to avoid just those circumstances. And it's not a plot point so it's fine to skip over it. But it is another one of those details where if you know how it would go it stands out.
A question that does get raised, though, is why did the kids and Clint go at all? I'm fine for how it looked like none of them were enjoying it because we heard the song. But when they all left early nobody acted disappointed. Who on this trip was dying to go to a Broadway show and this show in particular? It's not like they lack for options! Why did they pick an hours long activity that none of them were looking forward to? (Which then suggests they were there out of a sense of obligation of some kind which then brings us back to how Clint wouldn't have been unnoticed by the people working the show and how him leaving early would've been a big deal.)
Which then pulls us into specifics. Clint has his moment so he runs to the bathroom. The empty bathroom. Now I'm not saying theater bathrooms are never empty but they are also never sized to the capacity of the audience, particularly when they all need to go. On top of that later on Nathaniel says that they left halfway through the show.
Now even if you allow for how a young kid like Nathaniel probably can't yet accurately keep track of time in his head, he would know what an intermission was particularly since he was probably warned he couldn't go to the bathroom until one happened. An easy definition of intermission for a little kid is halfway through the show, regardless of whether that's where it falls in the exact show length.
Therefore we can conclude intermission hadn't happened yet nor was happening when Clint was in the bathroom. Because there is no "alone" in an intermission bathroom. Likewise you aren't alone out in front of the theater where people are grabbing smoke breaks, talking on their phones, etc. (To say nothing of people lining up well in advance to wait by the stage door, depending on how popular the musical is and if it's known if anyone famous is around.)
Which means that "Save the City" both takes place in Act One and is not the Act One closer.
So what in the hell is the story structure for this musical??
Not to go to the Hamilton well when the show left that inspiration at the poster, but I'm wondering if "Save the City" is meant as the "Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)" of Rogers the Musical. Which is to say a song with power enough to it that the audience loses its shit thinking it is an ending scene but in fact it isn't and the act doesn't end until a few songs later with "Non-Stop."
Which then raises the question of okay, what's the Non-Stop of Rogers the Musical? What even is Rogers the Musical? "Save the City" does a repeated callback to "I can do this all day" which reinforces the idea that Steve is the main character, but what story of his are they telling? Is it meant to go entirely through Endgame with an ambiguous ending about where the eff Steve is currently? Is it a Tick, Tick... Boom! style snapshot of a specific part of Steve's life? Is it - god forbid - Diana the Musical?
If the focus is on Steve how on Earth are they handling the characters of Peggy and Bucky? You don't bring people in for a brief cameo at the start of Act 1 then never see those performers again until after intermission. Given how little Peggy's character would have to do she'd probably be played a by a swing which means she's one of the few women in the Save the City performance shot.
But of course the same could be said for Bucky's character so, yanno, figure out which one of those random New Yorkers is playing him as well.
(And ooooh the symbolism if he's played by someone doing one of the Chitauri.)
I need the goddamn Playbill, Disney. Come on! My birthday's coming up, give a little!
As always, things that don't fit anywhere else.
- Shang-Chi is added to the Marvel logo, which is a nice touch. (Perhaps he's there in the Eternals credits but I'm not allowed to see Eternals until Disney graces us disabled folks with a streaming version so Hawkeye gets the nod from me instead).
- I have a firm rule about not doing deep dives on kid actors' performances because they're children who can eventually read about themselves on the internet. So I'll stick to simply saying that I thought Clara Stack, who played young Kate, did a good job, particularly given the long oner she had to go through when the Chitauri attacked.
- Speaking of kids, the law of economy of characters says that Armand VII is the one who killed Armand III.
- For those who keep track of these sorts of things, episode one was written by Jonathan Igla, episode two by Elisa Climent and both were directed by Rhys Thomas
- If they don't want us shipping Kate and (a hopefully aged-up) America Chavez already they shouldn't have put Kate in a suit.
- It took 26 minutes before we had our first sighting of Lucky. This is unacceptable.
- 31 minutes before our first "bro."
- In addition to how it was good they didn't have Kate idealize Ronin, I also liked how they established why Kate imprinted on Clint of all the non-powered Avengers.
- Speaking of Ronin, take a drink every time someone says "organized crime IN NEW YORK." Gosh, think they finally figured out Clint going on a Japan-only killing spree was a weetiny bit racist?
- I know Hailee did a lot of prepwork and if you're going to stress any of it I 100% agree you make sure you get the archery right when you're playing an archer. That being said, in most of her fight scenes she was wearing a mask and they were still god awful. Did they not take advantage of the face coverings to slip in her stunt doubles? Did her stunt doubles somehow also suck at fight scenes? Compare the editing on any of her fights with any of the fights in Shang-Chi if you want to understand one of many reasons why the latter was so good and the former isn't.
- Related, continuity was something that happens on other shows, apparently. The cut on Kate's forehead kept changing angle, Lucky is and isn't bathed, Kate and her mom keep changing what kind of drink they have at the dinner scene before the fencing, the step-dad even asks if she can drink when she's sipping from a wine glass mere moments earlier. I'm fine for chalking this up to the kind of forgetfulness that can happen when covid messes up your filming schedule but the editors should've been more on the ball then. Reality shows can make better continuity than this and they make narratives out of whole cloth.
- Even if we assume the last time Kate came home was for Thanksgiving, how fucking old was that slice of pizza in her fridge?
- Also, seriously, will someone PLEASE TAKE LUCKY OUT FOR WALKS ALREADY? You have no idea how stressed I kept getting thinking of that poor dog alone in apartments all day long.
- Speaking of apartments, based on the mezuzah on the doorway Kate's aunt is Jewish.
- Well, to be fair a lot of doorways in New York have mezuzahs that were not taken down from prior owners. So perhaps what I should say is "I'm not saying Kate's aunt is Jewish but she's got a mezuzah on her door and she's spending the winter down in Florida, so..."
- Can we take a second to talk about how poor Lila is responsible for the emotional labor of the family when Laura's not around? I'm fine for how this could be her reaction to the trauma of being snapped/blipped back but nobody is treating this as a dysfunctional urge, they're acting like it's normal for the middle child to be acting like the mother. Which is also sexist as fuck so I wasn't thrilled about it.
- I did like how Laura wasn't put into the role of the nagging wife at home who didn't understand why Clint was busy. I appreciated that she understood she married someone who does a particular kind of job that makes particular kinds of demands on him. Frankly, it's better than Pepper Potts ever managed to wrap her brain around so credit where due.
- That being said, I stick by my prediction that I won't be surprised if the show ends with Clint appearing at home on Christmas day with Nathaniel mistakenly thinking Lucky is his present.
- On the topic of predictions, I won't give away possible spoilers but for those familiar with the comics let me say I'll be genuinely surprised if we don't get a version of Clint's Captain America line. Especially since that line would resonate even more in the MCU.
- The LARP bit very much felt like a "kill your darlings" moment. Like early in the process somebody wrote "Clint goes LARPing" on a card in the writer's room and then nobody questioned why they still had it. The tortured logic they had to go through to keep him there proves it. (Grills agrees to give him the suit if Clint takes a fall but then the woman running it says the winner gets the suit except that's not what she says at the end of the fight and also Central Park events don't work this way and... yeah. Messy. Just have Clint go there as an activity with his kids if you need to keep it so badly!)
- Also on the LARP scene I had no idea what the show wanted me to feel about Clint fighting them. Like yeah the Avenger fights better than the amateurs who by definition at best know how to do fake combat that doesn't really hurt anyone. As a friend of mine put it, Tony Stark would probably win a middle school science fair too. What's the point of showing us this?
- That being said I'd love to hear about how the costumes for the LARPers were handled. Did they get real LARPers to participate and just told them to bring their own? Was it all non-LARPing actors and thus did the costume department have to figure out the various inspirations and skill levels for each person?
- Finally, shout-out to the music department for using Depeche Mode's Christmas Island in Echo's introduction scene. That was a beautiful deep cut and a great way to stay on the "Christmas" theme.
Amazingly, that is all for now! See you next week where at least hopefully the single episode means I'll have less to talk about! Possibly! Unless we get more musical in which case all bets are off!
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