Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios

Hawkeye on Disney+ is the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first real attempt at keeping a focus on superheroes with no actual superpowers, dealing with circumstances and threats that don’t have global or cosmic ramifications. The scale is much smaller, but that is precisely what makes Hawkeye so uniquely alluring. The six-episode series is delightfully unassuming and doesn’t overstay its welcome. The chemistry between heroes/crime-fighting partners Hawkeye/Clint Barton (portrayed by Jeremy Renner) and his aspiring protégé Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) is remarkably fun.

The show title is a tad deceptive as the show doesn’t solely revolve around the archer hero and member of the Avengers. The show evenly goes back and forth between him and Bishop after the latter dons the costume of Hawkeye’s former alter ego/vigilante Ronin. Because she wore the Ronin costume, Bishop caught the attention of dangerous people who want her dead. These events prevent Barton from returning to his family before Christmas. While the weary Hawkeye simply wants to take care of business and return home, Bishop couldn’t be more excited to partner with someone she idolized for years – so much so that she was inspired by his heroics during the Battle of New York in 2012’s Avengers movie to learn archery and martial arts.

Hawkeye spends most of the series evaluating the dynamics between Hawkeye and Kate Bishop as their personalities are constantly clashing. Bishop serves as the perfect foil for Hawkeye is the comic relief, full of playful banter and enthusiasm. She is always getting into trouble that’s way over her head, yet she will consistently deliver in the clutch. She plays the opposite of Hawkeye, who has seemingly seen it all, fought ‘em all, and has suffered more than his fair share of losses. The two find themselves investigating shady figures connected to Ronin and a murder mystery with a number of colorful twists. Instead of taking on a dark, gritty vibe like Netflix’s Daredevil, Jessica Jones and The Punisher, Hawkeye doesn’t allow itself to remain self-serious for long. With a shorter-than-expected episode count and brisk pacing, Hawkeye is able to move the story along with a finely tuned balance of action, comedy and drama.

Hawkeye introduces the audience to a fascinating character: Echo (Alaqua Cox). Like the actress who plays her, Echo is deaf and an amputee. She also kicks serious ass. We’re introduced to her when she works as a criminal. Her action scenes are hard-hitting and brutal. There is an intensity in her eyes that makes the audience realize that she’s destined to be a lot more than a street criminal. In fact, Echo will have her own Disney+ show. Keep your eyes on that.

In the middle of the season, a familiar face from Marvel Studios’ Black Widow appears. Yelena (Florence Pugh), a trained Black Widow assassin, is assigned to kill Hawkeye and avenge her sister’s death. When she first appears in Hawkeye, Yelena appears to be an absolutely terrifying and potentially devastating enemy for Hawkeye and Bishop. But she continues to bring her trademark sarcasm and charm to every scene. For most of the season, viewers won’t be entirely sure if her jokes will ever result in a lethal punchline. Pugh is magnificent when she walks the thin line between humor and murderous – at one point having a humorously menacing conversation with Bishop over a pot of macaroni and cheese.

There is a major payoff around the end of Hawkeye that will surely delight fans. But we won’t spoil it here as it has ramifications for future movies and television series in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But what we can say is this: if this character appears in Hawkeye, will other characters appear elsewhere in the future?

Hawkeye is a straightforward show that doesn’t rely on many extraordinary set pieces to competently tell a story with tantalizing, interpersonal depth. Hawkeye remains comfortably street-level where it should always be. And while there are some serious elements in play – like the trauma an Avengers hero has had to endure and reconcile with – Hawkeye encapsulates a nice balance of humor, honesty and heroics. While the showrunners may have been playing it a little too safe with the MCU’s tried-and-true filmmaking style, Hawkeye is ambitious enough to keep audiences engaged and excited for a potentially crazier second season.

Hawkeye is currently streaming on Disney+.