“Percy Jackson” Casts Walker Scobell In Lead Role

As we’ve all learned the hard way from J.K. Rowling and the slow-motion train-wreck that is the Fantastic Beasts franchise, giving authors too much creative control over adaptations of their work can be…uh, risky. I say this as a writer who would very much like to be invited onto the hypothetical film set of any hypothetical adaptation of my own somewhat hypothetical fantasy novel, but the truth is that published authors can be a somewhat stubborn lot – convinced they know exactly what’s right for their story and characters, and unwilling to allow professional directors, screenwriters, and casting directors to do their thing.

Percy Jackson
Walker Scobell in The Adam Project | looper.com

It’s a good thing, then, that Rick Riordan appears to be the polar opposite of J.K. Rowling – in every way in which an author and a person can be. I try not to use the term “genuinely decent human being” of people I don’t actually know, but Riordan has minded his own business for as long as I’ve been following him on social media, and I appreciate that he seems to know when and how to properly utilize the power of his massive following, and when not to speak at all. That, and I guess the fact that he actually writes awesome queer and trans characters into his books and doesn’t wait for decades to have passed before ever retroactively confirming when a character is gay (I’m looking directly at you, Rowling).

I also appreciate that, while Riordan has made no secret of his disdain for the Percy Jackson films made between 2010 and 2013, and his negative reaction was not at all unwarranted given how badly those films butchered even the most basic themes of his books, he is coming into the new adaptation of Percy Jackson And The Lightning Thief for Disney+ with the understanding that there are fundamental differences between writing books and writing for television, and that just because he knows the story better than anyone doesn’t mean he’s necessarily the best person to translate it into a visual medium. He has joined forces with some excellent writers and producers, including Black Sails‘ Jonathan E. Steinberg, Dan Shotz, and Daphne Olive, and Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Monica Owusu-Breen, among several others.

The area in which I’m most pleased to see that Riordan is getting a say is casting – because if there was one thing about the 2010 Percy Jackson adaptation that ruined that movie for me and many other fans (it’s hard to limit it to just one thing, actually), it was the casting of actors in their late teens as characters depicted in the first book as twelve-year old children, completely altering the dynamics of their relationships with each other. Riordan was firmly opposed to the decision to “age up” his heroes, but had no power whatsoever over the production.

Percy Jackson
Logan Lerman in Percy Jackson And The Lightning Thief | mindlifetv.com

This time around, the mistakes that doomed the Percy Jackson film franchise to a swift death won’t be repeated, as Riordan has made the wise decision to look for age-appropriate actors who can grow into the key roles of Percy Jackson, Annabeth Chase, and Grover Underwood, alongside a new generation of fans. Yesterday, it was announced that thirteen-year old Walker Scobell of Netflix’s The Adam Project has joined the production in the role of Percy Jackson himself – and the enthusiastic response to the casting even from adult fans of the books is proof, if any was needed, that this was always the correct approach to take.

I suppose I ought to explain what the books are about. Percy Jackson is an urban-fantasy series that hinges on the intriguing premise that all of the gods and monsters of ancient Greek mythology are real and very much alive in the present day, where they take frequently amusing disguises. Percy Jackson himself is a demigod, the only known son of Poseidon, god of the sea. He gets mixed up in a war between the gods after being implicated in the theft of Zeus’ prized lightning bolt, and has to battle Medusa, the Minotaur, Ares, and other characters both iconic and obscure on his journey to Los Angeles to find the true Lightning Thief and clear his name.

Along the way, he’s joined by Annabeth Chase, a daughter of Athena, goddess of wisdom, and Grover Underwood, a timid satyr tasked with protecting demigods from monsters. Annabeth and Grover have yet to be cast, but Riordan has promised that those and other announcements are not far off. Personally, I’m most interested to see the actors playing the Greek gods – something about the 2010 Percy Jackson film that bothered me to no end was how the director and writers took everything that was funny and clever about Rick Riordan’s descriptions of the gods and simply…stripped it all away.

As for whether Walker Scobell will make a good Percy Jackson, I finally started watching The Adam Project last night (Scobell’s only film to date, available on Netflix), and while Ryan Reynolds is every bit as grating as I usually find him to be, Scobell is honestly delightful as the younger version of Reynolds’ character – he’s snarky, funny, and expressive, with great comedic timing and a natural gift for monologuing. With slightly darker hair, that’s Percy Jackson right there.

Percy Jackson
Walker Scobell | netflixjunkie.com

I always worry for child actors joining major franchises and potentially becoming targets for bullying and harassment from adults, but for some reason I want to believe that the Percy Jackson fandom is…I don’t know, relatively more chill than other fandoms where this has been a problem. Despite having read all the books, I haven’t interacted with very many Percy Jackson fans, so I just don’t know, and at this point I’d be a little scared to dive in.

So anyway, what do you think of Walker Scobell’s casting, and how excited are you for the new Percy Jackson series? Share your own thoughts, theories, and opinions, in the comments below!

Vibrant First Trailer For “Ms. Marvel” Offers A New Look At Kamala’s Altered Powers

I have long been sick and tired of those people on social media (you know the ones) who seem to have nothing better to do in their lives than trash adaptations they feel are “bad” or “unfaithful” (usually for racist reasons), only to immediately turn around and idolize Marvel Studios for always “respecting the fans” and “honoring the source material”, but today I want to talk about them. Because now Marvel has released the first trailer for Ms. Marvel, an original series coming to Disney+ this June, and those people…those people are real quiet all of a sudden.

Ms. Marvel
Kamala Khan | wusa9.com

And I’m sure it has something to do with the fact that a lot of them were never gonna watch Ms. Marvel in the first place, because the concept of a brown Pakistani-American Muslim girl saving the world is just a little bit too much for them to handle, but we all know in the end most of them will cave and watch – and don’t get me wrong, I’m sure they’ll complain about the show bitterly, but I’ll be very surprised if any of them call it out for being a “bad” adaptation even though, in this case, I think there’s a very convincing argument to be made for why this is, if not an bad adaptation (that word is strong, too strong for me to use in good faith before the show has aired a single episode), then at least a problematic one.

And it’s not like this is the first time Marvel has done this, either, but there’s always an excuse for why it’s okay in their case. To cite just one example out of many, Wanda Maximoff’s Romani and Jewish heritage, which is pretty integral to her character, was erased when she and her twin brother Pietro were introduced to the MCU in Age Of Ultron. The excuse at the time was that Marvel needed to give them both completely new backstories to avoid getting into trouble with 20th Century Fox, but Disney now owns Fox and has yet to fix or even address this problem. For some, it’s ceased to even be a problem, and that’s kinda sad.

With Ms. Marvel, the problem isn’t the casting of Kamala Khan. Newcomer Iman Vellani is instantly charismatic, leaning heavily into the side of Kamala that is colorful, quirky, and so wildly imaginative that, in the first half of this trailer at least, she’s surrounded by animated thought-bubbles and doodles like she’s in a comic-book herself. Obviously, that’s not the only side of Kamala’s character that this series ought to be exploring, but it’s the only one that this trailer really hones in on – and Vellani seems particularly well-cast as Kamala the fangirl, fan-artist, and fanfic-writer who desperately wants to be a superhero but is still shocked and slightly terrified when her wish comes true.

But here’s the problem. In the comics, it’s important – I’d argue crucial – to Kamala’s character arc that her superpowers, when they manifest, are neither pretty nor cool at first glance. She can’t fly, or glow, or shoot laser-beams from her eyes. Instead, by what seems like a cruel twist of fate, she discovers that she’s a polymorph with the ability to rearrange the molecules in her body, allowing her to stretch, shrink, grow, flatten, expand, and contort into various shapes. This is a big deal because when she realizes that she can use this power to look like different people, she initially chooses to take the form of her favorite superhero – Captain Marvel.

Kamala in the comics is deeply scared that unless she looks like the conventionally attractive white superheroes she’s grown up idolizing, people not only won’t see her as a superhero, but won’t even trust her to save them in a life-or-death situation. It’s really important to her character arc that her powers are something she could either choose to embrace or to be ashamed of, and that she chooses to embrace the parts of herself that might alienate other people – knowing full well that it means giving up her one shot to be what the media says a superhero “should” look like – because the “brown girls from Jersey City” deserve a superhero who looks like them.

Ms. Marvel
Ms. Marvel | ewwnews.com

But no, let’s give her a cute clip-on bracelet that glows and shoots sparkles instead.

I have no trouble understanding why this choice was made, so you can all save your prepared excuses. I’m obviously aware that elasticity is a weird superpower, one that tests how far audiences are willing to suspend their disbelief even when well-executed. Pixar’s The Incredibles proves that even back in 2004 it could be done in animation, but the live-action Fantastic Four movie that came out a year later conclusively proved that special effects technology had not yet caught up to the comics in regards to elasticity. Seventeen years and two more Fantastic Four movies later, that conclusion has yet to be refuted.

(Speaking of the Fantastic Four, I do not believe there is any truth to the theory that Kamala’s powers were altered so that Mr. Fantastic will stand out more when he makes his MCU debut, as this has never been a problem before. If there’s enough room for two archers named Hawkeye and at least eleven Eternals with slight variations on the same cosmic energy-based powers, I think Ms. Marvel and Mr. Fantastic could have peacefully co-existed in the same universe without anyone getting confused).

My issue, and the issue which many fans of Kamala Khan have with this change, is not that Kamala’s powers are different, but that changing them to be pretty and cool and “cosmic”, as Kamala excitedly whispers at one point in the trailer, fundamentally alters who she is. Her new powers, instead of causing her to question why she doesn’t look or feel like a superhero (and ultimately leading her to the realization that it’s the superhero media she consumes that put those doubts in her head), have the exact opposite effect – allowing her to live her dream-life as an easily merchandisable action figure on sale now at a Disney store near you!

And I’m sure that Ms. Marvel will have a sweet message about the importance of being yourself, but you can count on Disney to take a middle-of-the-road stance on pretty much everything, no matter how inoffensive it may seem. Be yourself…to a point. Don’t ever be so accepting of your differences that you accidentally step outside one of the studio’s target demographics – that would be radical.

Eh, maybe the cynic in me is just wary of all of Disney and Marvel’s attempts at representation following recent events. Trust me, I really want Ms. Marvel to surprise me, and I’d like nothing more than for there to be a twist near the end of the series where the magic bracelet is broken or lost or stolen by an antagonist, but it turns out that Kamala has actually had her comic-accurate polymorphic abilities the whole time and chooses to use those instead of the cool sparkly powers that her bracelet gave her. But at the end of the day, it’s easier to sell clip-on bracelets than Terrigen crystals that unlock latent Inhuman powers in humans, so I doubt any of that will pan out.

Unfortunately, the situation with Kamala’s powers isn’t the only controversy overshadowing the new series, though it might well be the most easily remediable in the long run. Amongst the supporting cast encircling Iman Vellani in Ms. Marvel we have Yasmeen Fletcher, a Christian actress significantly lighter-skinned than her character, Nakia Bahadir, who has been portrayed in the comics as a fairly unambiguously brown hijabi Muslim girl, and Zenobia Shroff, a non-Muslim Indian actress playing Kamala’s Pakistani Muslim mother. Several other casting announcements have additionally been criticized for perpetuating the trend of colorism in Hollywood.

Ms. Marvel
Ms. Marvel | ign.com

I won’t lie, seeing the Ms. Marvel (2014) #5 comic-book cover recreated so faithfully on the first poster for this series and then again in the trailer itself was exciting, but the similarities can’t end there. I mean, they can – Marvel can technically just give us a completely different version of this beloved character and expect us to be okay with that, but it’s disappointing that they can get away with it so easily and that a lot of fans will brush aside any criticism as illegitimate or mean-spirited, even when it comes predominantly from the Muslim fans and fans of SWANA (Southwest Asian & North African) descent whom this character was originally made to represent.

Trailer Rating: 7.5/10

“Kenobi” 1st Teaser Trailer Takes The Hermit Hero On One Last Joyride

SPOILERS FOR STAR WARS: REBELS AND JEDI: FALLEN ORDER AHEAD!

An intergalactic manhunt is afoot in the first teaser trailer for Lucasfilm’s long-awaited Kenobi series, coming to Disney+ this May on the 45th anniversary of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s very first appearance in Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope (at the time just Star Wars). Kenobi himself is one of the two primary targets of this manhunt, but the series looks to be so broad in scope from the trailer alone that I wouldn’t be at all surprised if several other Jedi show up – hiding in various far-flung corners of the galaxy, but leaving in their wake a “trail of compassion” that corrupted Jedi named Inquisitors know how to follow to its source.

Kenobi
Obi-Wan Kenobi | theverge.com

This teaser trailer, with its heavy focus on the characters around Kenobi and their actions, gives me the distinct feeling that Obi-Wan Kenobi isn’t the driving force behind most of the main events in this series, which doesn’t surprise me all that much. I mean, his name is in the title, so I have to assume he’s at least somewhat integral to the story Lucasfilm has chosen to tell through his unique viewpoint, but (a) they also marketed The Book Of Boba Fett as a Boba Fett show, and…that was a lie, and (b) it’s not like Kenobi is a character who can freely move around the galaxy the same way Din Djarin can in The Mandalorian.

I mean that literally (for Kenobi to leave Tatooine even briefly gives the Inquisitors so many opportunities to track him that it’s a risk he can surely only afford to take once or twice), but I also mean it in the sense that Kenobi’s place in the Star Wars canon is fixed, whereas Din Djarin’s is fluid. No matter what actions Kenobi takes, he will still need to end up back on Tatooine in hiding because…that’s where we meet him in A New Hope. Wherever his journey takes him, he’s tethered to Tatooine – as is the Star Wars franchise as a whole, but that’s a different conversation.

When the source material doesn’t provide a solution to this problem (and in this case there’s very little source material, and even less of it is still canon), the answer is always to create original characters who can move freely, and who aren’t quite as limited in what they can say or do. Kenobi gives us the Inquisitor Reva, seemingly an antagonist but one with her own point-of-view and a large role that transcends the action on Tatooine and at the Citadel Inquisitorius. That also puts her in a position where she could bridge the gap between Obi-Wan Kenobi and his nemesis Darth Vader without the two ever needing to interact onscreen.

I fear that the temptation to just go full fan-service will prove too strong for Star Wars to resist, and that Kenobi and Vader will actually clash in a lightsaber battle that might be epic to witness, but will be robbed of any stakes by the knowledge that both these characters walk away unscathed, physically and emotionally – because by the time of A New Hope, when Vader tells Kenobi that “when I left you, I was but the learner, now I am the master”, he’s explicitly referring to their duel in Revenge Of The Sith, and Kenobi doesn’t rebut that statement (well, he does, but only to tell Vader that he’s become a “master of evil”, not to remind him that they actually had some other duel the Sith lord has forgotten about).

So any fight scene inserted between the two films must ultimately make so little impact on the characters involved that they fail to even remember it a mere fifteen years later, which makes it unnecessary filler – worse than a retcon, as it literally adds nothing to their dynamic and would instead strip away a layer of what was already there. Don’t get me wrong, I’m always down for a lightsaber battle, but if Kenobi has to fight anyone, I’d prefer it to be Reva or another Inquisitor – perhaps even the Grand Inquisitor.

Set to make his live-action debut in Kenobi after first appearing in the animated series Star Wars: Rebels, the Grand Inquisitor was a Pau’an Jedi Knight who turned to the Dark Side and assisted Darth Vader in hunting Jedi during the twenty years between Revenge Of The Sith and A New Hope. He ultimately killed himself after failing to capture the Jedi Kanan Jarrus, deeming that Vader’s wrath would be worse than death, but Kenobi catches up with him at the height of his reign of terror.

Kenobi
The Grand Inquisitor | polygon.com

As Rebels fans have been quick to point out, he looks a bit…different. Not worse, necessarily, just…different. His head is more round than it is elongated, which has led to a lot of (probably unfair) comparisons to the live-action Pau’ans who appeared in Revenge Of The Sith with elongated heads and looked more like the Grand Inquisitor than Kenobi‘s version of the character. But what’s important to remember is that those Pau’ans were side characters who never did any fighting. I’m not a stunt choreographer, but I have a sneaking suspicion that top-heavy Pau’an heads, much like Togruta tendrils, aren’t exactly conducive to jumping and twirling and stunts in general.

Ultimately, as long as the Grand Inquisitor is appropriately terrifying in live-action, that’s all that really matters. On the flip-side, Kenobi has an opportunity to flesh out the Grand Inquisitor’s character – and all the Inquisitors, for that matter – in a way that Rebels never did. The Jedi: Fallen Order video game franchise has done slightly more in that regard, even featuring a morally conflicted Inquisitor named Trilla Suduri, but we still know surprisingly little about these former Jedi who chose to devote themselves to the task of hunting and killing people who used to be their friends, mentors, and apprentices.

The Grand Inquisitor, for instance, was a Jedi Temple Guard who fell to the dark side after witnessing the Jedi Order’s harsh treatment of Ahsoka Tano during the Clone Wars. His real name, the name of his Jedi master, and all details regarding his training are a mystery. Rebels‘ Seventh Sister and Fifth Brother, the latter of whom will reappear in Kenobi, are even more enigmatic. But the fact that Reva even has a name attached to her character, a name that represents a tangible attachment to her past life (one she’s perhaps unwilling to sever?), gives me hope that, like Trilla Suduri, she’ll be a three-dimensional character in stark contrast to her uniform Brothers and Sisters.

Pulling the strings behind all the Inquisitors is the shadowy figure of Darth Vader, whose true identity is still a mystery at this point in the timeline – one to which audiences already know the answer, mind you, but watching characters in-universe come to the same realization on their own never fails to make me emotional. And if Ahsoka’s reaction when she found out was devastating, then the mixture of guilt, anger, and heartbreak that Obi-Wan Kenobi is sure to feel when he first hears of the reappearance of Darth Vader and starts connecting dots is going to be…a lot.

Interestingly, the question of when and how Kenobi discovered that Anakin Skywalker was still alive following the events of Revenge Of The Sith has never properly been answered – not by the current Star Wars canon, at least. That offers the Kenobi series at least one key plot-point around which to construct an early episode, leaving several more in which the character can grapple with the ramifications of his discovery and ultimately make up his mind to seek out Darth Vader, who at this point in the timeline is still the stuff of rumors; the full extent of his power having not yet been revealed to the galaxy.

I know everyone is gearing up for the rematch of the century between Kenobi and Vader, and I also know that the discourse around this show will be unbearable because the two characters will either never meet, leading a certain demographic of fans to complain that their demands aren’t being met and that Star Wars (but like, especially Kathleen Kennedy) hates the fans, or they will meet, and it will create a whole bunch of weird plot-holes, or they’ll fight in some kind of vision and fans will be split down the middle on whether they’re satisfied by it. It’s gonna be a mess regardless.

Kenobi
Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker | wall.alphacoders.com

But hey, I love a good mess. And frankly, without Jon Favreau attached in any capacity, I actually have higher hopes for Kenobi than for most of Lucasfilm’s other Disney+ series’, which have recently begun to suffer from their monotonous stylistic consistency and obsession with Tatooine, as evidenced by The Book Of Boba Fett‘s failure to hold audiences’ interest (including mine). Kenobi, ironically, is the one series that arguably ought to stick to a Tatooine setting but is instead choosing to take its famously cloistered protagonist on one last spin around the galaxy – and we’ll just have to wait and see whether this approach pays off.

Trailer Review: 8/10

“Hawkeye” Episode 5 Finally Opens The Show’s Big Mystery Box

SPOILERS FOR HAWKEYE EPISODE FIVE AHEAD!

Today is an exciting day for fans of the short-lived but successful Marvel Netflix shows – Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, The Defenders, and that other one. If you mourned their abrupt cancellations, which happened in quick succession between late 2018 and early 2019, then the reveal that Vincent D’Onofrio’s iconic Kingpin is home for the holidays will come as a welcome Christmas miracle, regardless of how easy it was to predict (thanks in large part to D’Onofrio’s Twitter activity over the past few months). And if you’re hoping to see more Marvel Netflix characters pop up in the MCU, well, Hawkeye just opened the door.

Hawkeye
Ronin | gadgets.ndtv.com

But…there is a caveat. Until we see more of the MCU Kingpin than a grainy photo taken from a considerable distance (frankly, I wouldn’t have been able to say with certainty that it even was D’Onofrio if his name wasn’t listed in the credits), we still have no clue whether any of the events and storylines from the Marvel Netflix shows will make their way into the MCU canon, or if Marvel president Kevin Feige has handpicked a couple of actors he likes and has simply chosen to discard everything else and disregard the Netflix continuity. He would be well within his rights to do so, and it would be in Disney’s best interests not to give any attention to their streaming rival.

With the little we are given to mull on before the Hawkeye season finale next week, we can at least be certain that Kingpin is not in prison, so either he found a way to obtain his freedom after the events of Daredevil season three (which to be fair, would likely have happened anyway if the show ran for another season), or Daredevil is not canon. The answer will speak volumes about how Marvel plans to utilize other characters and actors from MCU-adjacent TV shows including Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., which drifted so far astray from the MCU canon in its last two seasons that a soft reboot approach may be the only viable option.

Oops, I found a way to make this about Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. again. My bad. But I can assure you that the meta mystery of what is and is no longer canon to the MCU is probably more interesting than the actual mystery unfolding throughout Hawkeye, which at this point is actually four or five separate mysteries all frantically jostling for screentime in a six-episode series. Even with a couple of story-threads loosely intertwined in this episode to provide the illusion of cohesion, our eyes are still led to the characters and subplots that keep bouncing in and out of the story like pinballs.

I was thoroughly prepared for Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) to fall into that latter category, right alongside the vintage Rolex watch of indeterminate origin that has already ceased to be relevant and the embarrassingly blatant red-herring wrapped up in the name of Jack Duquesne (Tony Dalton), a comics character with a long and illustrious history who deserved better. But where Dalton can do little with what he’s given except be charming (and to his credit, he does that so well that it’s been clear from the outset he’s not a criminal mastermind), Pugh is given a supporting role in this episode that she utilizes excellently.

Hawkeye
Yelena Belova | diraxe.com

As a temporary comedic foil to Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), Pugh’s Belova fits snugly into the show – providing the same kind of chipper, light-hearted banter that Kate liked to bounce off of Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) before the two parted ways at the end of episode four, and giving Kate a much-needed opportunity to assume a more stoic stance for once. Pugh’s Russian-ish accent still needs work (although the inconsistency of it might be part of what makes this performance so endearing), but whether she’s rambling on about hot sauce or mapping out her first sightseeing trip through NYC, her Belova is an absolute delight.

And although her comedic moments are some of the highlights of this week’s episode, they wouldn’t be nearly as funny or as vaguely uncomfortable if Pugh weren’t simultaneously conveying in quiet undertones that Belova is still very much a threat. She matter-of-factly states that she’s going to kill Clint Barton one way or another, and if I trusted Marvel to actually follow through with that, I’d believe her. They’ve been getting bolder in the past year, but I don’t think they’re at the point of casually killing off original Avengers in a holiday-themed Disney+ series…yet.

If Clint does make it out of this alive, it’s not going to be for lack of trying on the part of his enemies. We learn that Eleanor Bishop (Vera Farmiga), Marvel’s least-surprising surprise villain since WandaVision‘s Agatha Harkness, was behind the hiring of Yelena Belova to kill Clint, and meanwhile Kingpin hasn’t even unleashed the most dangerous weapons in his arsenal. Echo (Alaqua Cox) and the Tracksuit Mafia are also out there, but Echo takes on Clint a third time in this episode and again walks away soundly defeated. I’ve been disappointed in some of the decisions Hawkeye has made with her character, but it’s starting to get really frustrating.

And with the revelation that Echo’s desire for vengeance is being aimed at the wrong person anyway, her storyline feels increasingly pointless except to introduce the character and establish what will presumably be the through-line of her own Disney+ series. It’s accurate to the comics that Kingpin gave the order to have Echo’s father murdered, not Clint Barton as Echo had believed for much of her life – but there’s no emotional weight to that reveal, for the audience who still doesn’t know the MCU versions of these characters all that well (or in Kingpin’s case, at all).

There was one flashback to Echo’s childhood in episode three, focused on her relationship with her father – but no scenes or lines that established the largely one-sided bond of trust and loyalty that formed between Echo and Kingpin after the death of her father, nothing to earn the dramatic reveal in this episode that’s framed as if it’s heart-wrenching and instead comes across as hollow. Hawkeye has been so busy poorly keeping Kingpin a secret, it forgot that this part of Echo’s character arc is dependent on knowing something – anything – about their relationship.

I feel sorry for Cox, because she clearly deserves a story that can actually focus on what she and her character need. Some of Marvel’s mystery boxes have been disappointing or mishandled (the Power Broker reveal in The Falcon And The Winter Soldier comes to mind), but this is the first mystery that’s clashed with the rest of the story to this degree, and it’s not hard to see why. Even leaving aside the fact that it hasn’t exactly been easy to figure out what the main mystery is with so many going on, they’re all thematically estranged from Hawkeye‘s early ruminations on what it means to be a hero, and the dangers of putting people on pedestals.

Hawkeye
Echo and Ronin | tor.com

Hawkeye feels like it ought to have been the story of the Ronin legacy that haunts Clint Barton, and the fact that this episode is actually titled Ronin would seem to reflect that. But instead of building on that foundation, the show has instead tied itself into knots chasing random Rolex watches and Kingpin Easter-eggs. I’d say the finale could sort it all out, but honestly I think there’s a stronger chance that Yelena Belova kills Clint Barton on Christmas Day.

Episode Rating: 7.9/10