Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Review

The latest installation to the MCU is finally here! I have been so excited for this film since it was first announced by Kevin Feige, but all the Covid-19 delays made it feel like we were never going to actually see the darkest MCU film to date. So, despite the fact I've been taking a little blogging break I just had to review Scarlet Witch in the Multiverse of Madness...oops I mean Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. What can you expect from the self-dubbed scariest MCU installation so far? Expect a semi-scary film, full of great moments and weirdness, just don’t expect it to reach the level of the Avengers films.  There will be spoilers below - but only very minor.  Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness opens midway through an action sequence that features an alternate version of Strange (All versions played by Benedict Cumberbatch) as he attempts to protect newcomer America Chaves (Xochitl Gomez). Just as America faces certain death, she activates her powers and j

Hawkeye Review

The MCU is here with its next series instalment on Disney Plus and just in time for Christmas. See Clint Barton take centre stage in his very own story: Hawkeye. The six-part series begins on the 24th of November 2021 with a double bill, the series coming to an end on the 22nd December 2021. The show is set in New York City at Christmas time, this is only the second MCU project to take place at Christmas (the first being Iron Man 3 in 2013). The show is set two years after the events of Avengers: Endgame, so is the most recent events of the MCU. We know that Yelena (Florence Pugh) is set to make an appearance, so Black Widow (2021) is essential viewing. I am so excited for this show! I will post weekly episode reviews here on this post, so check back each week for updates. There will be spoilers. 

Check out my Eternals review: Eternals Review (justanotherfilmblog.uk)

Episode One: Never Meet Your Heroes 
Episode Two: Hide and Seek
Hawkeye kicks off with a double bill, which means we get over and Hour and a Half of content in one go! The MCU's way of giving us a nice little Christmas gift. These episodes set up the rest of the season, setting up the narrative whilst most importantly introducing us to Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld). The opening scene of the series dives into her origin story, which began during the events of Avengers: Assemble (2012), where Hawkeye saves her from the Chitauri. Jump forward to post Avengers: Endgame (2019) and Kate is a celebrated 22-year-old athlete getting kicked out of college. For the first time Clint Barton aka Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) is center of attention, beginning with the flashback to the events of 2012. Clint attempts to take some family time with his children: Lila (Ava Russo), Cooper (Ben Sakamoto) and Nathaniel (Cade Woodward) in NYC at Christmas. However, his plans are derailed when Kate caught-up in a heist, steels and dons the Ronin costume.

The dynamic between Clint and Kate is already great fun to watch, there is certainly a parent and child vibe. This vibe is heighted by Kate who sees Hawkeye as her idol - the whole reason she began training in archery, martial arts and various other sports. The way their relationship develops will certainly be at the very centre of the series, I can already anticipate Kate's devastation upon discovering that Clint was Ronin. For Kate the show is clearly going to be about her development, into a hero, becoming an adult and dealing with family drama. Clint starts the show in a darker place, mourning the death of Natasha his best friend, he is also dealing with a disability. Clint now wears a hearing aid after suffering injuries during his Avenger adventures. Furthermore, it looks like it is finally time for him to confront his past as Ronin, an identity it would seem only the Avengers and his wife Laura (Linda Cardellini) are aware of. But it looks like the truth will be revealed as the Tracksuit Mafia are hot on the hunt for Ronin. The Tracksuit Mafia are a little on the funny side, but their leader Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox) also known as Echo is sure to be a formidable villain. 

These first two episodes also introduced another character: Lucky the Pizza Dog who is played by the Golden Retriever Jolt. So not only is the show set at Christmas, the most magical time of the year but there is also a cute fluffy dog as a main character. I think I'm going to like Hawkeye. The show is also full of intrigue, Kates family at the very center of the drama. The situation with her mother, Eleanor (Vera Farmiga) and her new fiancĂ© Jack (Tony Dalton) is interesting, with the later appearing to have murdered his uncle Armand (Simon Callow). I would like to know why Jack was so eager to obtain Ronin's Sword. I also have a feeling we will be seeing more of Kates dead father David (Brain d'Arcy James). Another character that is only shown twice is Kazi (Fra Fee) a member of the Tracksuit Mafia, I have a feeling he will end up being an ally of Kates. 

Overall, a very interesting, fun start to the Hawkeye series. It's great to see Clint finally get his own story - the last of the original six Avengers to do so. Haliee Steinfeld is already a great addition to the MCU and I'm excited to see where the show takes her character. Also did anyone else notice that Kates family home looks a lot like Blair Waldorf's apartment in Gossip Girl? And what was that Rodgers musical? I can understand why Clint and his family left. I cannot wait to see Clint develop further as his own character away from the Avengers, bring on the next episode!

Episode Three: Echoes

Hawkeye really hits its stride in Episode three. The dynamic between Clint and Kate works seamlessly, the combination of chatterbox and stoic silence working perfectly. This week's episode opens on another flashback, Hawkeye certainly wants to show us the origins of its new characters. This week we learn about Echo aka Maya, we see her struggling at school and dreaming of going to a specialist school for the deaf, a school her father cannot afford. But a young Maya similar to Kate becomes strong, learning to fight. As an adult we see what a formidable fighter she became, but her real origin story, however, lies in the murder of her father at the hands of Ronin. Maya's story is similar to Kates, both train to fight, both lose their father, but they also have differences, Maya has none of Kates financial privilege, and where Hawkeye is Kates hero, Ronin is Maya's villain. I really love the connections being made between these two newcomers, both of which have been affected by Clint, just in very different ways.  

Back in the present Clint and Kate are finally introduced to Maya at the Tracksuit mafia's hideout. Maya raises the idea that perhaps Clint relies on his hearing aid too much, especially considering his lacking sign language skills. Once again Black Widow's loss is felt with Clint saying she killed Ronin, when in reality we all know that Nat saved Clint from his darker path as Ronin. But Maya won't accept the answer, she wants Ronin to answer to her, or her 'uncle' who is 100% likely to be Kingpin. If you wanted more action from the first two episodes, I'm sure episode three will make you very happy as it has an abundance of action sequences. The first, the daring escape from the Tracksuit mafia. Throughout this sequence we see a very cool side of Clint, who uses his arrows in close range situations to make daring shots, the combination of quick editing and slow-motion shots really made me think 'wow Hawkeye is cool.' The second is a car chase, where Kate takes on the lead fight position, firing trick arrows in a fast-paced situation. What makes this sequence so exciting is Clint's broken hearing aid, he literally cannot hear Kate. Their ability to communicate is tested. I loved the arrow infused with Pym technology, that was a really 'yes!' moment, it's also the first sign of other Avengers leaving their mark on the team technology wise, something Iron Man always covered. 

The phone call between Clint and his son is so emotional, Clint always torn between hero duties and family. Kate's assistance with the call only strengthens their relationship, which is already feeling like family. Kates drama with her own family takes a back seat this episode, that is until the final moments when Clint is held at sword point by her soon to be stepfather Jack. I'm pretty sure Clint won't react well to being held at sword point by his own sword. Jack in the comic's is known as Swordsman and is a known enemy of Hawkeye, so it's likely the pair will come to blows before Hawkeye comes to a conclusion. Overall, a fantastic episode, Hawkeye bringing some much-needed grounding to the MCU, reminding us that not all stories have to take place in space or in alternative timelines etc... Clint and Kate are well on their way to being one of the best MCU duos. I cannot wait for the next three episodes. 

Episode 4: Partners, Am I Right? 

I am getting more and more excited about these episodes every week. Hawkeye delivers the perfect balance of action, emotion and
humour, making it one of the best MCU shows to have debuted on Disney Plus this year. Episode 4 is full of tension, with enemies seemingly all around and growing by the episode. This episode also welcomes back Yelena (Florence Pugh) who returns after her debut appearance in Black Widow (2021). Her brief reveal at the end of the episode is thrilling and leaves us wanting more. But Yelena brings our count of potential threats to Clint and Kate to six which includes: Maya, Kazi, Kingpin (if confirmed), The Tracksuit Mafia, Jack and Yelena. Although I think we should all be looking out for Kate's mother Eleanor. 

The episode begins right after episode 3 with Jack holding Clint at sword point. The lights are quickly turned on and Eleanor appears asking why there is an Avenger in the house. What follows is an awkward table scene, which results in Eleanor requesting that Clint leave her daughter alone, her only concern being Kate's safety. Kate's investment in her partnership with Clint seems to be more than his. But I think it's pretty clear they both need each other, and I feel that by the end of the series they will both realize they need one another going forward. Kate needs a mentor and Clint needs a friend. This episode gives us both the saddest and funniest moments of the show so far. The Christmas, drinking strategy session that Kate and Clint share is endearing. It's great to see Clint actually having fun. The scene ends with Clint revealing that he was Ronin, Kate takes the news far better than I expected, but she does see Clint through rose tinted glasses - he is her idol after all. This moment leads to Clint having a flashback which ends in Nat sacrificing herself in Endgame. The most emotional part of the episode is however not the flashback but instead takes place during the fight at the end of the episode. Where Kate is thrown over the edge of a roof by Yelena. Clint runs after her horrified, he reaches out his hand and sees Kate dangling, the music from Endgame plays. The scene is reminiscent of Nat's death in Endgame, but where Nat asked Clint to let her go, Kate asks him to pull her up. Clint can't lose her as well, so he lets Kate go (although she comes back), he is clearly struggling to let anyone get close to him. 

One of the biggest questions to come from this week's episode is: Who is Clint's wife Laura really? The watch seems to be tied to her rather than Clint. Is her full identity yet to be revealed? Could she be an Ex-Black Widow? Or perhaps she is Mockingbird? I think we will be getting answers to these questions by the end of the series. Going into next week's episode I wonder if we will see more of Yelena? I hope that she will eventually learn that Clint loved Nat as much as she did and that they manage to team up. I think Kate will also face some tough situations next week with her mother and Jack. There is still so much at play and with only two episodes left I think we are in for a brilliant ride before Hawkeye is over. 

Episode Five: Ronin

How are we on the
penultimate episode of Hawkeye already? Episode 5 certainly feels more like the halfway point than the beginning of the end. I really am loving everything about this show and its characters both new and old. This week's episode delves into the backstory of another Character: Yelena. The opening of episode 5 acts as a mini sequel to Black Widow (2021), with Yelena on the hunt for the other Black Widow's that have been affected by the toxins. During a rescue mission the snap happens, and we see that Yelena was dusted. In a really clever transition, we see Yelena turn to dust and turn straight back, on her return her first thoughts are of her sister. Hawkeye has one other main character: Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, even though she is dead and only appears in flashbacks, Nat is at the very center of the show and the characters motivations. Her legacy lives on. 

After last week's fight Kate returns home to her mother, I find it very old that Eleanor is so adamant that her daughter isn't a hero. Perhaps she has something to hide - but more on that later. Once Kate has her wounds tended to, she returns to her burnt flat, to find the wonderful Yelena. Yelena certainly steels every scene she is in, her character full of conviction and wit. Yelena is teetering between good and bad, her path not yet clear, which makes her intriguing. Elsewhere Clint decides to take on Maya by himself, he once again dons the Ronin costume. His plan: to do anything he can to protect his family which includes his wife, Laura. The episode offers no further information into her real identity and past other than she says to Clint that she 'understands more than anyone else'. Next week is sure to be a big episode for Laura. In one scene we see Clint really needing to talk to someone, so he goes to the memorial plaque which stands for the first time the Avengers teamed up, where he talks to Nat. Kate also needing someone to talk to fills Clint's voicemail with rambling messages - these two really do need each other. Which is why Kate cannot stay away, she tracks Clint and helps him to get away from Maya. There is one massive reveal in this week's episode, which is delivered by Yelena. Yelena tracks down the real person that hired her to take out Clint: Kate's mother. Eleanor it would seem wants Clint dead and it would seem she is working very closely with Kingpin (Vincent D'Onofrio). It seems that Clint is already aware of Kingpin, I have a feeling Clint certainly worked for him during the blip. 

Every week Hawkeye is delivering, with shock reveals and emotional moments. The characters all work well together. The flashy elements such as magic, space, time travel etc... that we have seen in recent MCU projects (Eternals, Loki, Shang-Chi, WandaVision) have been stripped away to give us a more grounded story that evokes the early phases of the MCU. And I am loving every minute. With next week's episode set to be a brilliant finale I can hardly wait! There is a lot to wrap up, but I have a feeling that won't happen. Hawkeye feels like the start of something not the end. Also did anyone else catch Yelena's comment about the 'new and improved Statue of Liberty'? I'm betting that is a Spider-Man Far From Home reference. 

Thank you for reading. 

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