Vincent D'Onofrio's Kingpin and some wisely executed drama makes for an exciting finale.
It’s finally happened: as of episode 5 of Hawkeye on Disney Plus, Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk, aka Kingpin, is back in the MCU. Now, for the finale, Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) gets to meet one of the most fearsome villains in the entire franchise, for an emotional climax to the TV series.
The episode, ‘So This Is Christmas’, divides several plot points around a major fight scene where we see Kate and Clint (Jeremy Renner) deploy a variety of trick arrows against the Tracksuit Mafia. Naturally, this all happens outside New York City’s Rockefeller Centre, and involves the big Christmas tree getting destroyed.
All in service of a neat ending, though, with each character arc brought to a satisfying conclusion. The mini-series has kept stakes high but centralised – everyone wants peace for the holidays – and episode 6 delivers by creating tension by showing who gets real closure, and who doesn’t. Some people don’t get happy Christmases, for no other reason than unfortunate circumstances, whereas others do. None of this is fair, and Hawkeye puts some effort into the divide.
D’Onofrio’s triumphant re-introduction to the franchise immediately grabs the spotlight, sitting across from Eleanor Bishop (Vera Farmiga). She reiterates that she wants out, for the sake of Kate, much to Fisk’s chagrin. Few within Marvel’s live-action escapades have ever been quite as domineering as D’Onofrio’s crime boss, and his presence instantly creates some alarm.
He’s an added fuse to the oncoming blowout between Yelena (Florence Pugh), Kate, Clint, and Echo (Alaqua Cox). Lots of tracksuit-clad cronies too, because the arrows we see during a good old montage need plenty of targets. An affirmation that Kate is now an equal to Clint undergirds their entering this last stand together, adding weight to see them in costume, bows out, taking on the world.
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Except they aren’t taking on the world, just one sliver of it, and something Hawkeye does very well is explore the human element of this cosmic universe. Two heroes taking on the criminal underworld, an assassin who wants redemption for her sister, a criminal whose entire career has been defined by ostracisation – each reluctant in their own way, forced to work during the holidays because heroism is just like that on occasion.
Humour is prevalent for the high-octane parts. Kate and Yelena sharing an elevator is cleverly paced, balancing hand-to-hand fighting against irritation with one another, suggesting they could very well work together in future. The arrows provide several sight gags, a van shrunk by Pym particles that gets carried away by an owl being one of the funniest.
Yelena getting her facetime with Clint provides the heart of the episode, an emotive standoff where she tries, and fails, to pin Natasha Romanoff’s death on him. This gets at the crux of his character: he’s not proud that he’s the one that’s still alive, and on some level he wishes Natasha was still around instead of him. But that’s not what happened.
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Yelena’s grief is valid, and Pugh wears her heartache, dropping the calculating confidence to show a little sister that’s without her anchor. She and Clint have more in common than she thinks. Meanwhile, Kate learns the hard way that Wilson has some extremely thick skin, bouncing arrows left and right before surviving a car crash.
Wilson very much symbolises the weight and brutality of the Marvel Netflix series that D’Onofrio’s depiction hails from. He’s almost ethereal, built out of menace and resentment. Director Rhys Thomas captures two schools of Marvel Cinematic Universe colliding in Kate’s helplessness against Wilson where she can only escape using a Home Alone-esque trap.
In that same way, Yelena and Echo stand in contrast to Clint and Kate’s neat ending. A certain armour protects comic book heroes, while anti-heroes and villains are sidelined. Though Hawkeye season 2 is an exciting prospect, seeing Echo again, a disabled character made villainous by one of the established heroes, is far more tantalising.
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How Yelena copes with the ambiguous loss of Natasha should fuel a strong Black Widow sequel. The purpose of this show has always been for Clint to herald the next Hawkeye, and he’s done more than that. A wave of prospective young Avengers are now in play, all driven, for good or ill, by Clint’s actions. He may not be proud of everything he’s done, but if this is his ending, then he’s left a positive legacy with the franchise