The Marvel Cinematic Universe post-Avengers: Endgame has been something of a mixed bag, with too few creative highs competing with too many narrative lows for a few minutes of attention. There’s an argument to be made that Phase 4 should have been one of consolidation rather than further expansion—one that valued quality over quantity—but I don’t run Marvel or Disney, I just write words on the internet about TV shows. Which is why I’m going to ignore the facts in favor of a silly but sincere Christmas wish: Renew Hawkeye for Season 2, you cowards!
Now, you might say, “Hey, didn’t you just write an article arguing that Disney+ should start moving away from its Marvel-and-Star-Wars-heavy lineup to focus on more original ideas?” And to that I would say, Yes, I did write that! Thank you for remembering. I also still believe that as an overall programming strategy. But Hawkeye isn’t a new show and therefore this does not break my own rules that I made up.
Hawkeye was the fourth live-action Marvel series to hit Disney+, arriving on the platform just in time for the 2021 holiday season. After the stellar WandaVision, disappointing The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, and the potentially-only-exists-to-keep-Tom-Hiddleston-in-the-MCU Loki, the Christmas-themed comedy was proof the next chapter of the MCU would benefit from more low-key, stand-alone adventures featuring distinct personalities that prioritize character development over epic, world-saving stakes. (If that was not a major argument for why the MCU should expand into TV beyond driving Disney+ subscriptions, it should have been.)
In addition to introducing us to Hailee Steinfeld’s young archer Kate Bishop, Hawkeye closed the loop on the heartbreaking death of Scarlett Johannson’s Natasha Romanoff for multiple characters while filling in the gaps of Clint Barton’s (Jeremy Renner) time as Ronan. Kate’s enthusiasm breathed life into an aging franchise, while her chemistry with Renner as Clint—a tired, beaten down superhero three seconds away from yelling he’s “too old for this shit”—allowed for a goofy, lighthearted atmosphere, the kind we expected to see between Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier but were rudely denied. Sure, Hawkeye’s plot was sometimes clunky, and Vera Farmiga was in an entirely different show from the rest of the cast, but a welcome appearance from Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova, a catchy original song from the in-universe Broadway hit Rogers: The Musical, and a silly LARPing subplot ensured that Hawkeye was, while not a perfect show, a perfect balance of superhero and shenanigans.
Although Marvel’s Disney+ series naturally have the ability to feed into and support the feature films’ ongoing narrative, they are not—and should not—be beholden to what’s happening elsewhere in the MCU at all times. In the wake of the coming-of-age series Ms. Marvel and legal comedy She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, it feels like someone finally told Kevin Feige this, which is why a second season of Hawkeye should be high on his priority list. And you cannot tell me Marvel hasn’t considered it; the show was submitted as a comedy at the Emmy Awards, not a limited series. While that could have been a strategic move to not steal votes from the (underwhelming) Moon Knight, it could also be because Marvel intends to one day continue the story of Clint and Kate. The writers even left a well-placed dangling thread for Season 2: the reveal that Clint’s wife, Laura (Linda Cardellini), is not just a very understanding wife and mother, but a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent known as Agent 19, aka Mockingbird. Admittedly, I doubt anyone at Marvel ever intended this to be more than a fun Easter egg for comic book fans, but few viewers would take issue with an opportunity to further explore this development.
On a deeper note, there is also something that Hawkeye offers that few other Marvel shows and films do right now, which is the perspective of life as a parent and middle-aged superhero, one who is in the twilight of their world-saving days. The 2017 film Logan, which featured an aging Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), was an excellent detour from much of the genre at the time. Since then, we’ve seen older versions of Spider-Man in two different films involving the multiverse: 2018’s Oscar-winning animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home, the latter of which saw the return of Tobey Maguire as an older Peter Parker opposite Tom Holland (and Andrew Garfield). With so much feeling familiar in superhero projects these days, exploring Clint’s perspective, as seen through the eyes of the next generation, is yet another detour that could lead to narrative creativity.
Also working in the show’s favor is the fact the series’ low-key approach to superheroics means it’s likely cheaper to produce than some other Disney+ series. Given the company’s current financial woes, a smaller price tag ought to look pretty good to recently reinstalled CEO Bob Iger. So if the rumors are true that the Marvel train is looking to slow down and reassess as it prepares to enter Phase 5, another season of Hawkeye arguably ticks a number of boxes. Plus, it has a really cute dog. And who am I to deny the world a really cute dog?
Kaitlin Thomas is an entertainment journalist and TV critic. Her work has appeared in TV Guide, Salon, and TV.com, among other places. You can find her tweets about TV, sports, and Walton Goggins @thekaitling or read more of her work at kaitlinthomas.com.
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