Hawkeye: Echoes

3.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Clint, played by Jeremy Renner, and Kate, played by Hailee Steinfeld must escape their bondage whilst being pursued by new character Echo, played by Alaqua Cox.

I think this episode was a big step up from the previous two mainly because Kate’s parents were barely in it and it focused on action and advancing the plot rather than mindless teen angst filler.

I thought Echo was done marvellously well and can see why she is getting her own show. Her origin story immediately makes the audience warm to her and hate Clint, honestly the series as a whole makes Clint worse as he faces no consequences for being a mass murder; hopefully he will face some kind of justice by the end of the series.

I also enjoyed the series continuing the tease out Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin returning the MCU, I hope they actually deliver on this and don’t full a Boner with this one as well, as I think that would really start to annoy the fans as the series clearly knows what it is doing.

I think the downside of this episode for me was the action sequence as tonally it was all over the place. The most teased trick arrows feel naff and also Kate seem unphased at the prospect at blowing up a truck full of people with one such trick arrow which I thought was a strange bit of character development.

Overall, better than the first two hopefully it keeps this pace and we don’t have to suffer through anymore family scenes with Kate’s parents.

Ps. When I say parents I mean mum and step father, just thought I would specify.

Pros.

Echo

Clint’s emotional moment with his kids

Echo’s back story

The use and restriction of sound

Cons.

Issues with the action sequence   

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Hawkeye: Hide And Seek

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Hawkeye, played by Jeremy Renner, briefly teams up with Kate Bishop, played by Hailee Steinfeld in order to defeat The Track Suit Mafia and free themselves from the grip of New York’s Underworld.

This episode was better than the first, not hugely so, and certainly nowhere near the level of other Marvel shows but it was a small step in the right direction. Why? Well because things actually happened here and the series covered more than just the inner squabbles of Kate’s family. I would very much like the series to leave her family behind and focus on her and Hawkeye taking down the mob.

Thankfully for the most part they ignore the murder mystery aspect and focus more on Hawkeye’s efforts to stop the Track Suit Mafia and get the suit back, which leads to two entertaining scenes. The first being the larping scene as having such a self-serious character as Hawkeye pushed into this silly situation is just funny no matter how you slice it. The other is of course the final scene introducing us to Echo, played by Alaqua Cox, which is fun as it teases out further heroes in the MCU and expands out the coming Daredevil mythos.

I still truly believe the major thing holding this show back is the family melodrama. Whenever I see Vera Farmiga’s mother character or her finance come onto the screen I turn off as I don’t want to watch another family spat, it was tiresome to begin with, now it is just annoying.

Overall, slightly better but still a long, long way to go.

Pros.

Echo

The larp sequence

The wider universe teases

Cons.

Still too much family drama

The pace is still deathly slow

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Hawkeye: Never Meet Your Heroes

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Kate Bishop, played by Hailee Steinfeld, has her world turned upside down when she discovers and wears Hawkeye’s, played by Jeremy Renner, Ronin costume from Endgame causing her to become hunted by The Track Suit Mafia.

I think coming off the bat of the other Marvel Disney + shows this one felt disappointing. I appreciate the return to a more street level affairs but this episode is so deeply slow paced that it is almost a slog to get through. For the most part we are dealing with Kate’s family drama, which is neither interesting nor engaging: most of the scenes therefore drag on and on and you are left wishing for something interesting to happen.

The murder mystery angle doesn’t really come into effect until the end of the episode but it is mildly interesting at best, again from everything we have had before it feels very low stakes and honestly it would have been more interesting if Kate began investigating the criminal underworld of New York in order to find out more about The Track Suit Mafia and just left the mystery alone.

Vera Farmiga is in this series for some reason, she doesn’t do anything other than serve as a nagging mother figure for Kate, clearly the writers aren’t very good on this one, and Farmiga’s character is relegated to an annoyance whenever she does show up on screen.

Hawkeye is in this episode but he mostly doesn’t do anything either, he goes to an Avengers musical………. In my mind he only really appears for the last 5 minutes when he comes in to save Kate.

Overall, an incredibly slow start, with a weak mystery and annoying side characters. Of course it is watchable and Steinfeld is promising but the series as a whole really needs to improve.

Pros.

Steinfeld

The ending

It is watchable

Cons.

Vera Farmiga

The family drama

Terrible pacing

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The Eternals: The New Gods Of The MCU

4.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A race of space faring beings known as Eternals have been on Earth for thousands of years and now they are finally stepping out into the limelight in order to save the world, naturally.

Major Spoilers Incoming

The trailers for this film did it no favours. Then the critics reviews came in and savaged it for the most part. I went in with incredibly low expectations, however I was pleased to say this might have been one of the best MCU films so far.

To address the main concern up front the action in this film is used sparingly, as in to say there is less here then in other Marvel films, however what is here is used well. The action scenes often carry with them a large amount of tension and stakes that help them to feel more than just the standard mashing of two CGI figures together. A good example of this is the jungle action sequence in which the Deviants have tracked the Eternals down and ambush them this feels incredibly tense.

A lot of people have said that this film has pacing issues, is too long, and is too talking heavy. I disagree with all of those statements. I enjoyed the character focus, it was a nice change from the bang bang nature of most MCU films, the conversations were mostly always incredibly impactful either to establish MCU lore, which this film does beautifully, or to create a connection between us the audience and the characters.

Speaking off, every character here is done well and you become attached to them. Over the course of the film you really do become enamoured with the character drama and are excited to see where it goes. Even bit characters like Kit Harrington’s Dane Whitman aka Black Knight are given moments to shine. Speaking off make sure to stick around until the second post credits scene as there is an incredibly exciting one teasing out the future of Harrington’s character and Blade?

My one complaint of this film would be the Deviants. This complaint is threefold, firstly the Deviants all look the same, bland CGI heavy baddies that feel cut and paste with a deeply uninspired design. Secondly, the film does nothing interesting with them, midway through it plays with the idea of Deviants being a sentient race who are just trying to stay alive, just like the Eternals themselves which creates a nice dichotomy however the film does nothing with it. Thirdly, in the final act of the film they just abruptly kill off their leader and that is the end of the Deviant threat as other characters and beings rise up to become villains of the piece.

Overall, one of the most meaningful and impactful films in the MCU a real gem in its hat, if only the Deviants could have been used better.

Pros.

The characters and performances

The post credits scenes, mainly the final one

The emotions and the powerful dialogue scenes

Using action in a smart way

Breaking the MCU formula

Cons.

The Deviants

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What If: The Watcher Broke His Oath?

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Uatu, voice by Jeffery Wright, assembles the Guardians of the Multiverse to fight back against Ultron.

This was a good episode, but it wasn’t as good as the previous week’s episode and that is the crux of why I feel disappointed.

There was infinite possibilities for what they could have done here, but the no new characters rule again hamstrings the series. Instead of new characters and abilities we get the same old same old, Thor, voiced by Chris Hemsworth, using his hammer, Gamora, voiced by Cynthia McWilliams, using a sword, etc- we have seen that before. The only interesting part of the battle was seeing the various monstrosities that evil Dr Strange, voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, could summon out of him.

I thought the ending had promise, though was also a little bit sloppy. The ending sees the evil Dr Strange holding the warring factions in a pocket dimension never to be allowed out, they will obviously escape. I just think they could have done so much more with it, with Zola and Ultron and maybe a combination of the two, but no.

I liked that this episode brought back a lot of characters from most of the episodes of the show and helped it feel connected together, rather than just a series of one-offs.

Overall, a strong ending but not as good as the penultimate episode.

Pros.

Assembling a new team

The animation

The promise of what the ending brings

Cons.

The ending feels a bit too easy

It would have been nice to see some new characters feature

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What If: Ultron Won?

4.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Ultron, voiced by Ross Marquand, is not defeated and has achieved his aim in removing life from the universe, now he has his sights set on the multiverse.

This was what I wanted from What If right from the beginning. Finally, after almost the entire season the show gets me to stand up and take notice. Why? Well for two important reasons. Firstly, this episode fixed one of my biggest issues with the show as a whole namely that Uatu, voiced by Jeffery Wright, is barely a character and has no purpose beyond reading out exposition. Here he had a central role, and we explored his character further. Secondly, this episode also bucks the trend of keeping things self-contained and brings in characters from other episodes.

I am very excited to see where the show can go from here because with it now becoming a whole narrative rather than separate individual tales it means we could see a new team arise in the final episode, a defenders of the multiverse perhaps; that will of course carry over to live action.

Furthermore, I think this episode does justice to Ultron. The threat is very present here and Ultron becomes a rival to Uatu himself which highlights just how powerful and intriguing the character can be when Joss Whedon is not writing him.

Overall, a stellar episode and one which has me excited for what is to come next week.

Pros.

Getting Ultron right

Having characters crossover

The ending

Giving Uatu focus and exploration

A strong sense of threat

Cons.

The human story was less interesting and felt like a distraction

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What If: Thor Were An Only Child

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Thor, Chris Hemsworth, comes to Earth to party.

This was a very watchable episode of What If, it was by no means the best, but it had its moments. I found this to be the funniest of all the episodes so far and it made me laugh quite a few times, Jane Foster, Natalie Portman, and Darcy Lewis, Kat Dennings have all the best lines.

Moreover, I enjoyed the back and forth battle scenes between Thor and Captain Marvel, Alexandra Daniels, they were very reminiscent of Tom and Jerry or Looney Tunes and had a good escalation. I found Captain Marvel to again be too self-righteous and dower to be any real fun, the only time I found her character amusing was during the final scene when she has the joke about helping Thor study. The MCU really needs to go out of its way to make the Captain Marvel character more fun and likeable because right now she is a buzzkill, though maybe that was the point of the episode.

I did not like the ending and I felt like it came out of nowhere, indeed having Ultron show up with a completed infinity gauntlet simply to end the episode seems like a silly and needless decision, they could have just ended it neatly at the wrap up of the party sequence.

Overall, a fun episode but not one without its fair share of issues.

Pros.

Thor

The comedy

It’s fun

Cons.

The ending

Captain Marvel

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What If: Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

In this what if scenario Tony Stark is not taken prisoner by the Ten Rings and is instead rescued by Killmonger and becomes a pawn in the latter’s quest for revenge.

I feel like this episode really shows just how much the premise of this show hamstrings it. This is not always the case as some episodes veer off in very different directions such as the Evil Doctor Strange or Marvel Zombies one, but in the case of this episode having to tie into the films and the preestablished cannon really becomes a problem. We see moments from several different MCU films but rather than feel like its own thing this episode just feels as though it is trying to recreate those moments just slightly differently. Originality seems in short supply on this one.

Moreover, none of the characters are advanced in any meaningful way by this changed timeline which seems like a huge missed opportunity. In the Doctor Strange centric episode the idea is what if the hero turned into a villain, here we have a Killmonger that has an entirely different plan and is far more successful than he was in the main timeline MCU and a Tony Stark who didn’t have to escape his captors and become Iron Man. There is a lot this episode could have done with that set up, yet the characters are exactly like how they are in the MCU anyway with very little personality difference.

Overall, this episode really highlighted the confines of the show.

Pros.

The battle scenes

It is watchable

Cons.

The character progression is nonexistent

It sticks to the films too much

It is limiting

The ending again feels too early  

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What If: Zombies?

4.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

This was easily the best episode yet. I say that both in terms of the concept and execution. I think many of the other episodes, not all but a large amount, have felt too similar usually because they try and adapt certain MCU films, however this feels entirely different and all the better for it.

I am a huge fan of Robert Kirkman’s Marvel Zombies run and I have been waiting for them to adapt it.  This episode does justice to that storyline through and through and does not shy away from pulling some narly twists and reveals. I thought the Wanda reveal was especially good in this regard and I am surprised Disney allowed them to do it.

Moreover, I felt like this episode gave some much needed screen time to some of the smaller characters in the MCU. For all the focus Bruce Banner and Peter Parker get Hope Van Dyne also gets her moment in the sun. Hope has felt like a relatively separate MCU character confined to the Antman films and not given much to do outside of them, yet here she is leading the team and we get to see her interact with the other Avengers which makes for a number of heart-warming and emotional scenes. In that same regard I am glad we got to see more from Sharon Carter in this episode as well. The wider universe does not seem to know what to do with her character having her be a love interest in Winter Soldier and having her be a sub-villain in FTWS. Here they get her right however she is a badass spy and that is all she needs to be.

My only complaint would be that the episode feels too short and cuts off leaving us wanting more. Hopefully season two will come back to this universe.

Overall, the best episode yet.

Pros.

Marvel Zombies

The emotion

The darkness

Highlighting secondary, often forgotten about, characters

The fight scenes and tension

Cons.

We needed more  

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What If: Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead Of His Hands

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Stephen Strange, voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, goes on a hunt for answers after the death of his love Christina Palmer, voiced by Rachel McAdams, and what starts out with good intentions quickly morphs into something perverse.

I think this was a very high calibre episode, certainly up there with the murder mystery one and Captain Carter; maybe better. What I think this episode does so well is that it tells a very personal story but incorporates a lot of big themes and concepts into it, so as we focus our attention souly on the life and loves of Stephen Strange the MCU is also expanding all around us.

Another thing I enjoyed about this episode was that it finally gave Jeffery Wright’s Uatu something to do. I understand he is a Watcher and is forbidden to get involved with the events he sees, but they could at least give him something. Other than the narration each episode and maybe a shot of him watching he is basically absent from the show. This is rectified here as Uatu shows up during the events of the episode and talks to Strange as the episode ends, it finally gives him an active role.

Moreover, I also enjoyed the further exploration of the magical side of the MCU, and I thought the conjuring/consumption scenes during the episode were intriguing, especially as it pertains to the supernatural within the MCU, maybe Mephisto can appear yet.

My one complaint of the episode would be that it ends on rather a down note and that it leaves you feeling depressed, but I suppose that was the point.

Overall, a deeply personal look into the mystical side of the MCU

Pros.

Expanding the mystical side of the MCU

Making Doctor Strange feel more human

The emotion

Finally giving Uatu something to do

Cons.

The ending is depressing

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