*Warning: This article contains spoilers for episode three of Hawkeye*
After two enjoyable, but largely flawed, episodes, Hawkeye finally gets going in this week’s fast-paced episode, titled Echoes. And while its action choreography still feels rather stiff and unimpressive, the chemistry between Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) and Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) grows in a more compelling direction, with a great on-screen debut for Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez/Echo.
In one scene, Cox gives incredible representation for not only the deaf and disabled community. Born deaf and with a prosthetic leg, Cox told The Hollywood Reporter that she believes “kids deserve to see inclusivity and accurate representation.” because “it will make kids with all types of cultures and disabilities feel like our dreams can break free from limitations.” To say that she breaks free from limitations is an understatement, giving Renner’s Clint Barton one hell of a fight, cartwheeling left and right as she continuously kicks Hawkeye in the face. It’s incredible and, from the fan reactions, gives much-welcome (and needed) representation in the MCU. With Lauren Ridloff‘s Makkari who kicked major ass during her battle with Ikaris in Eternals, and now Cox who goes toe-to-toe with Barton and almost wins, it’s only the beginning of Marvel’s shift for a more inclusive future on film and TV.
Cox brings the right emotional levity to make the audience sympathize with her plight to find Ronin, who murdered his father, William Lopez, (Zahn McClarnon) during The Snap. Ronin’s flashback scene is done in the same vein as the Russo brothers treated his fight with the Yakuza in Avengers: Endgame, with neon lighting and tracking shots. It makes the menace of the Ronin feel more important and gives a much better aesthetic than Hawkeye’s previous (and future) action sequences. Ronin’s scene has a small-scale, but James Whitaker’s camera makes it feel like a film. It doesn’t cut in the middle of a stunt, nor does it try to show the entirety of Ronin’s action. By filming it from Maya’s point of view, we only get to see glimpses of Ronin’s vengeance-fueled quest, through the garage windows, which makes the sequence way more exciting than whenever the filmmakers are trying to do an MCU-level film action scene.
Directing duo Bert and Bertie helm this episode, and its central action setpiece, a ten-minute long foot/car chase scene, doesn’t feel as exciting as the Ronin flashback. Most of the impressive stunts from its foot chase are broken into random jump cuts that lessen its cathartic impact and makes the choreography feel cheap. The same can be said with the car chase. It begins with a one-shot that isn’t as refined as, say, the ones in Daredevil (more on that later) and tries to impress the audience with a plethora of trick arrows. And while the banter between Bishop and Barton is entertaining, with Barton not hearing anything after Maya broke his hearing aid and both aren’t communicating at the same time, making for funny comedy, none of the trick arrows have a particularly memorable effect, save for the Pym Particle one that ends the scene in the biggest WHOA (!) moment of the franchise since Cap held Mjolnir in Endgame. Now that is how you end an action scene, but what came before wasn’t as incredible as this.
What saves the episode this time around is the development of Barton and Bishop’s partnership more than anything else. At first, Barton was annoyed by her presence since she made a rather stupid mistake of dressing up as Ronin, but a scene in which he talks to his son Nathaniel is a particularly heartbreaking one to watch. Barton can’t hear anything, and at first, he believes his wife (Linda Cardellini) is talking. But Bishop quickly helps him through a notepad to guide the conversation. You can feel the anguish in Barton’s eyes once he says, “It’s so good to hear your voice”, having to lie to his son to make him feel good, but he begins to feel grateful about Bishop’s presence, otherwise he wouldn’t have been able to talk to his son by himself. It’s the smaller moments that make Hawkeye enjoyable, not so much when it tries too hard to be like an MCU film. It’s not a film, and the directors must adapt accordingly in that regard.
But the most interesting part of the episode isn’t Barton or Bishop, nor Maya Lopez’s backstory at the beginning, but a rather interesting tease on the series’ big bad, known as of right now as Maya’s uncle. And from the looks (and light chuckle) of this uncle, it sounds like Vincent D’Onofrio has returned as Wilson Fisk AKA Kingpin, making it the first MCU Netflix character to appear in a Marvel Studios project (but not the first TV character, that’s James D’Arcy’s Edwin Jarvis in Endgame). In the comics, Kingpin acts as Echo’s adoptive father, after he murdered her real dad. But now the backstory has changed, so one can assume that Kingpin’s presence will change too. But how will he make his grand entrance (his appearance was only teased, but his face remains unshown), with only three more episodes to go? Time will tell, but this has certainly made all the rumors true and the series way more exciting now.