How Hawkeye Made Me Finally Care About, Well, Hawkeye

Call it a Christmas miracle — episode 4 of "Hawkeye" made me care about Clint Barton, a superhero more bland than stale Saltines. I'm admittedly not a Marvel fanatic, but the MCU version of Hawkeye has mostly just featured him being grumpy and sometimes showing off some cool accuracy-related party tricks. He's basically been the Avengers' weird uncle, always around but no one is quite sure why. With the latest episode of the Disney+ series, however, scenes between Jeremy Renner as Barton and Hailee Steinfeld as Kate Bishop finally made me see what's so special about the occasionally masked marksman.

This article contains minor spoilers for the latest episode of "Hawkeye."

Wrapped in Daiquiris and Suddenly Relatable

One thing that makes Clint slightly more relatable than some of his Avengers cohorts is that he's only human. Sure, he has honed his body into a perfect fighting machine, but he doesn't have Captain America's super-serum or Thor's god powers. He's just a dude who happens to be really good at shooting arrows and beating up the bad guys. In the latest "Hawkeye" episode, we see him pulling frozen pre-made daiquiris out of the freezer and taping them to his body as makeshift ice packs. His sigh of relief when he places the final daiquiri on his forehead is, as the kids say, a mood. While we've seen plenty of Clint brooding and being emotionally hurt by the work he does, we haven't seen much of the physical toll it takes on him. It brings his superheroism into context when you realize that he has to fight twice as hard as some of the other Avengers, in an aging body that will eventually give out. 

Seeing Clint be so refreshingly human made me feel for him, and helped set up one of the most emotionally resonant scenes in the entirety of the MCU.

A Delightful Dynamic

In an attempt to bring some Christmas cheer to the generally morose Barton, his new young partner (of sorts), Kate Bishop, surprises him with a whole bunch of holiday-themed goodies. They put on some adorable Christmas sweaters, trim the tree, and chug down some of those daiquiri "slushees" Clint keeps stocked in the freezer. They end up bantering about trick shots, which leads to Clint teaching Kate how to shoot a coin across the room with her fingers. This whole sequence, beginning with Kate's arrival with Pizza Dog and the sweaters, and ending with Clint and Kate having a very serious talk about grief, finally made me see past Clint's gruff guy exterior. We've seen plenty of him being tender with his kids, and this episode gives us a good idea about his relationship with his wife (who is a saint to put up with his misadventures, if I'm being honest). He's been as patient as he can be with Kate, but this is the first time we've seen them really have fun together. 

Clint's been through a lot. He lost his family in the Thanos snap, he lost his best friend Natasha twice, and he's the Avenger least likely to be invited to parties. Seeing him experience joy, even if it was just the tiny moment when Kate managed to turn the TV on through the coin trick, was eye-opening. There is something more inside of perpetual sour-face Clint Barton, and it looks like only Kate's excitement for life can help bring it out. It looks like Hawkeye's grief and guilt surrounding the snap and his time as Ronin will be a major part of his arc moving forward, and Kate might be the key to unlocking a future he'll want to be a part of. As Clint teaches Kate how to be a superhero, she teaches him how to be human. Their dynamic is what makes the series sing, and for the first time, I care about Hawkeye.