It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like….

The Guardians of the Galaxy and director James Gunn are bringing the holidays to the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the release of The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special.  This is the second celebration this year, since Disney+ gave audiences some special effects tricks with the release of the black and white, homage to horror special Werewolf by Midnight during Halloween,  

Interestingly enough both of these specials cross into two genres, superhero and holiday, by nothing more than mere associations.  Given that the characters in each have or will eventually be involved in “heroics”, anytime they appear the work becomes a superhero production.  This may be why WandaVision – the silly sitcom, suburban structure – caught so many viewers off guard.  And if that type of tone was seen as a drawback, can the Marvel Cinematic Universe bring home the holidays?  Will the Holiday Special have viewers in a circle around the Christmas tree, Rocket best watch his mouth when he describes the Peanuts gang around their tree, as well as wishing strangers on the street “I am Groot.” 

Instead of being solely seasonal, Werewolf actually has the potential to stand upright and walk like a man.  But airing it during Samhain may have sealed its status as a Halloween Special since any movie that has a single jump scare becomes a part of a Halloween watch list anyway.  

Did you know, however, that the MCU was feeling festive over a year ago.  The first episode of Hawkeye, the Disney+ series which follows Jeremey Renner’s archer as he searches for something lost in New York, was available to stream starting November 24, 2021.  

Maybe it went unnoticed because of an ever increasing amount of Scrooges out there; the world has turned into the town Santa forgot.   

It also doesn’t help that Hawkeye isn’t the most flashy or powerful Avenger.  Clint turns any Marvel project into something suburban, street level and casually civilian.  

However, perhaps the main reason it was easy to overlook this on target television show is that, well, it’s a bit of a mockingbird.  And while no obituaries are in order it is possible the show’s similarities to Die Hard, another film that has a genre identity issue, have kept Clint’s adventure from becoming a Christmas classic.    

Sleigh Bells Ring, Are you Listening?  

Given the damage to his ears while serving as an Avenger, Clint Barton should never suffer from a night that isn’t silent; just take out that hearing aid.  What Barton doesn’t seem to be incapable of is looking away?  

After all, he was S.H.I.E.L.D. ‘s eyes on Thor, with WHAT IF S1 E1 further showing his relevance, awaiting Fury’s orders on what to do with the Odison.  He saw something in the Maximoff twins and saw to it that “Avenging” didn’t stop during the snap; though both acts are now questionable in hindsight.  Now, after 5 years all he wants is to be home for christmas; some chestnuts, an open fire.  

An officer with a tarnished record attempts to get home to his family for the holidays. 

There’s just a bit of a problem with a guy in a suit.  

And a tower heist. 

And just like that the plot of Hawkeye becomes the Die Hard the Marvel Cinematic Universe.   

So the next question is, is Die Hard Christmas?  Well first someone will have to answer this – what is Christmas?  What makes this holiday, what elements are essential to create that experience on screen?  Much like Jack Russel, the titular MCU character in Werewolf by Midnight, a horror movie transforms into a Halloween treat beginning the month before Thanksgiving.  So does any show or film earn Christmas genre classification simply because the setting is December; do other details make the determination?

That appears to be the argument against Die Hard being about Advent.  The aspects of Christmas, modern or traditional, that show up in Die Hard become a bit of a backdrop; part of the setting, not the scenario.  Unlike Jingle All the Way – with a dad’s deadline and supply/demand issues consistent with the holidays – the Christmas elements of Die Hard are context instead of content.  John chose to visit during Christmas, but birthdays were certainly missed.  And why did Gruber go that day, whose tip led to this timing?  Thanksgiving was just a month earlier, and the security and staffing situation at Nakatomi would most likely have been similar.  The date makes as much difference as it does in Meet the Fockers, which is kinda what John does.  

Still, there is saying that there are many ways to celebrate the season.  A production can find plenty of ways to make a Christmas presence; even a Christmas classic.  The motifs and symbolism – a santa hat and some songs – seem to be enough to give McClane a Christmas miracle, are there any to unwrap in Hawkeye?  Well for starters he does have a sack on his back, so maybe stop crying and pouting about him deserving to be an Avenger.  He does survive Endgame, so suck it reindeer games.  

Hark the Herald

It’s nice to have it in your heart, but Christmas needs a setting.  While some of those stories may take place in a quaint, cozy community, there’s something about a big city – with the lights and sounds – that just brings the season to life.  And you can California dream all you want, but nothing says Noel like New York City.  Home of Rockefeller Plaza and the Rockettes. Plus, there’s Radio City Music Hall and the holiday production of, when did the Nutcracker get a Hulk?  

Clint may not be up on what makes a classics, like Dickens, but in the span of 5 years he has become a bit of a bah humbug.  With Maya (past), Kate (present) and Yyelena (future) each taking the role of one of Scrooge’s ghosts, will Barton’s freefall finally end?  He really does have a wonderful life with Laura, though it seems it’s her that left a life behind.  Who is she missing most this Christmastime?  

It’s understandable to miss people, and even more at Christmastime.  This time of year is all about friends, both new and old.  A nightmare for both Bartons, in another famous suit, arrives right before Christmas.  Are there enough adjectives to describe William Fisk?  Thankfully, Clint makes some new friends in The LARPers, who prove useful by answering Clint’s call, and Morris Walters’ family dinner discussion about arrow retrieval in She-Hulk.  

Gift of the Magi

Hawkeye not only presents Clint as a hero, since he is ordinarily overlooked – it might be easier if he was green – it also delivers a few stocking stuffers.  For starters Barton receives his own suit, and a reminder that the sight of the man with the sack on his back inspires ordinary people, courtesy of yet another new friend.  Hawkeye in turn gives something this individual has been wanting for a while.   

That person would be the future Avenger Kate Bishop.  How can Haliee Steinfield’s character already be called an Avenger?  Well, everyone saw that Ms. Bishop’s hero’s journey began on a Day Unlike Any Other.  In lieu of Cap tossing a card or a tour by Jarvis there are few other qualifications for any character to begin the march to the tower.  Anyone who’s wondering how she stands up to trouble need only look at how she faced down Fisk; straight as an arrow.  

While it’s easy to see the similarities between Clint and John, that doesn’t default Ms. Bishop to Lucy McClane.  After all, it’s Kate who stumbles upon the Tracksuit Gang’s initial heist.  And where exactly is she when this happens?  

“Come to the Party, Have a Few Laughs”   

Just because she isn’t a guy doesn’t mean Kate is any less capable of stepping up and being “that guy”.  No doubt her mother now wishes she was a bit firmer in her stance about not wanting her to get hurt because of her hobby.  It may have led to their Christmas story ending differently.

If Christmas can come early….  

What about a Kang colored Easter Egg.  Some large changes seem to be arriving in Mr. Lang’s life come Quantumania.  Where exactly was Ant Man during the battle of New York?  If Cassie meets Kate, will Clint and Scott be up for Trading Places?  

Until then, if your air conditioner goes on the fritz, before calling a repairman, don’t go turning on any lights. You never know what height Hawkeye may be waitingg to hit you from. Just look at him like Kate does – with eyes like a child at Christmas – because then Barton becomes a goliath.

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