Christophe Beck and Michael Paraskevas’ Hawkeye score finally gives Clint Barton the heroic, memorable theme he deserves, and that combined with several breathtaking action cues and a highly enjoyable orchestral style makes the score overall an absolute superheroic triumph from start to finish.
Hawkeye now stands as Christophe Beck’s fourth compositional outing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) so far, after scoring the first two Ant-Man movies and of course the WandaVision series at the start of this year. I’ve very much enjoyed pretty much each and every one of those respective albums, so the fact that Beck was called upon to return once again here (this time in collaboration with composer Michael Paraskevas) combined with Clint Barton’s comparative lack of thematic material in the MCU so far made me intrigued indeed for this new Disney+ series. So let’s get stuck in – like with Loki and Falcon And The Winter Soldier, the soundtrack releases for Hawkeye are also twofold; one dropping this week for episodes 1-3, and another in a few weeks time for the remaining 4-6. As such, this review is more of a “Part One” for the time being, with an update coming after the second album’s release on December 24th (so keep an eye out for that!). Without further ado then, let’s get started on the first; Hawkeye’s Theme opens the score, with light, Christmassy percussion setting a rather festive scene. Slow, hopeful brass then introduces us to the titular character’s new theme, with heroic-sounding strings and additional brass building in the background and percussion keeping the tone firmly grounded in the holiday season. With the instrumentation set, the motif then plays through for several increasingly grandiose renditions before the two minute cue fades as lightly as it began. Overall then, in terms of memorability Hawkeye’s theme here is actually pretty solid. It sticks in your head even after just a couple of listens, and it’s pretty upbeat, heroic and fitting with the character to boot. All-in, it’s a decent start by Beck and Paraskevas.
Clock Tower Mishap then opens the score proper, with light, playful strings and upbeat brass setting an optimistic tone in the first few seconds. The orchestra quietly builds as the cue continues, with both strings and brass accelerating toward a rapid crescendo which then ends the piece. High-pitched, horror-like strings then open Battle Of New York, with ominous rumbles of brass starting to build in the background until the orchestra practically bursts into the fray at sixty seconds in, elevating the already tense tone to incredibly dramatic levels. This continues for a minute or two until all hope seems pretty much lost, which is where Hawkeye then makes his enthusiastically dramatic entrance with his theme held high on loud, grandiose brass and heroic strings. Christmas carols are then the focus of Carol Of The Buy And Sells, with typically festive percussion and woodwinds setting a gently upbeat scene for much of the cue’s three minute runtime. The mood however then does a complete 180 in subsequent track Ronin, with quietly ominous electronics and foreboding brass taking prominence for the first minute or so until percussion kicks up the pace for the much more dramatic back half. The short Sincerity then brings back the main Hawkeye theme in unusually pensive form, with slow, drawn-out brass notes painting quite a melancholic picture of the titular hero until the track then ends at just under a minute long.
The orchestra bursts in at ferocious speed at the start of Action At The Auction, with loud brass and tense percussion driving the music forward for a good chunk of the four minute cue. A new theme also makes itself known throughout the action here; a rather dramatic, upbeat piece that presumably represents the heroics of Kate Bishop. While it perhaps doesn’t stand quite as tall as Hawkeye’s in terms of straight memorability it’s a pretty enjoyable motif all the same, and the orchestra utilizes it rather excellently throughout the track. 2012 then briefly returns the score to more sombre territory, with quiet strings and pensive woodwinds taking the forefront until In Like Clint takes us right back into the action, with the main Hawkeye theme playing through several tense renditions on some rather heist-esque woodwinds. Molotov Mazeltov then picks up where it leaves off, with menacing bursts of brass playing alongside increasingly frenetic strings. This all builds as the cue continues, with a particularly brassy crescendo then being reached at the two minute mark. Discovery plays heavily into the heist-like, Ant-Man-esque musical style that In Like Clint hinted toward, with playful percussion and worrisome strings taking prominence until sinister rumbles of brass start to take over at the two minute mark, building tension right up until the end. LARP In The Park then takes us back in time, with some rather medieval-esque strings and woodwinds evoking a gently optimistic mood. This only lasts for a little while however before the orchestra then starts to kick in and the track pulls upward into heroic action territory, with the medieval-esque woodwinds held high for the back half of the decidedly enjoyable piece.
Ominous, horror-like strings open It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Clint’s Mess, with foreboding electronics helping to set a particularly villainous tone in the opening minute. A few notes from Kate’s theme then briefly interweave with the tension on slow, worrisome brass, hinting toward further appearances which, after another minute or so of moody atmosphere suddenly occur as Kate’s theme bursts into the fray once again, this time on proudly heroic brass. This doesn’t last for long though as Maya’s Theme then takes charge; a pensive, primarily woodwind and string-based motif for Maya Lopez a.k.a. Echo, a Marvel antihero who appears throughout the show. Much like with Kate’s theme it is a little on the lighter side of memorability,relying more on melancholic atmosphere to get its point across (which to be fair it does to pretty great effect). Speaking of Kate’s theme, it then comes rocketing back into the fray for action setpiece Sorry Santa, where frantic brass and rapid, antagonistic strings set tensions high right in the opening few seconds. From here on the orchestra starts to build, with the instrumentation rising in both volume and intensity until a loud, emphatic crescendo is reached at two minutes in as Hawkeye’s motif leads a dramatic charge. The action then takes a brief, piano-based respite in the rather mournful Do You Hear What I Fear (with Maya’s theme also returning) before things then build to finale in Fighting Over Toys. Crashes of dramatic percussion open the piece, with Hawkeye’s theme punching through for a short rendition on loudly heroic brass. Kate’s motif then takes over for a few tense seconds, with the orchestra kicking up the pace and becoming almost frantic until both Hawkeye and Kate’s themes then burst back in towards the end to give both the cue and the album overall a rather grandiose finish.
Overall, Christophe Beck and Michael Paraskevas’ score for the first few episodes of Hawkeye is pretty damned solid. First and foremost, one thing that they have absolutely succeeded in doing here is crafting a heroic and quite memorable theme for Barton himself, and it’s about time he had one. The way the motif weaves throughout the score is very well done, with standout moments in Fighting Over Toys and of course Hawkeye’s Theme being of particular highlight. The composers have also crafted themes for both Kate Bishop and Echo, and while I do find them perhaps a little less memorable than Hawkeye’s, they are pretty enjoyable all the same (and perhaps they’ll get fleshed out a little more in the second album), with the way Kate’s motif in particular interacts with Hawkeye’s being pretty fun to listen to as well. Other than the themes the orchestral style is also pretty great, even harkening back to Beck’s heist-esque compositions for Ant-Man at times, which in turn leads to some pretty spectacular action setpieces (see Sorry Santa and Fighting Over Toys as mentioned above). All-in-all then it’s so far so great with Hawkeye, and I for one can’t wait to hear what the composers have in store for the next album in a few weeks time.
A Few Weeks Later…
Time has now come and gone, and the second volume of Christophe Beck and Michael Paraskevas’ Hawkeye score is finally upon us. It begins with Dustup On A Housetop, and within just a few seconds the composers have already chucked us right back into the action-oriented deep end with another dramatically frantic setpiece. Both Hawkeye and Kate’s themes feature fairly prominently in the first half, but it’s the second where things really get interesting as a crash of percussion brings the action to a sudden halt, and solemn strings then set a particularly downtrodden tone. Slowly, surely and rather surprisingly, several bars from Alan Silvestri’s Even For You motif from Avengers: Infinity War then sound sorrowfully through. Then, no sooner than a minute later, Lorne Balfe’s theme for Yelena from his Black Widow score makes a short but decidedly noticeable appearance, with Hawkeye and Kate’s themes then reprising once again to round off the cue. Thematic continuity is always a great thing to see (or rather, hear!) in film music nowadays, and I’ll be honest I nearly jumped out of my seat when I heard the above themes start to play in episode four of the show. It’s a highly enjoyable musical cherry on top of the already amazing soundtrack cake Beck and Paraskevas have baked here, so serious props for that.
No Words continues in a similar vein, with Silvestri’s Even For You theme receiving a lengthy and particularly solemn reprise followed by what sounds like a few notes from Lorne Balfe’s motif for Black Widow before the track then comes to a gentle close. Barton Funk briefly takes us back to the Ant-Man-esque heist-style score with Hawkeye’s theme taking centre stage, before Arrival And Return brings us right back to Yelena as a few bars from her theme play alongside some particularly frantic brass and strings. The action then continues in Yuletide Fray, where things turn dark and rather ominous as some sinister electronics take the forefront alongside crashes of unnerving percussion, with the cue then drawing to an end with a particularly worrisome rendition of Kate’s theme a few minutes later. The tone gets much lighter and more festive in short cue Bone & Marrow however, with some rather upbeat Christmas-esque percussion and brass holding Hawkeye’s theme high. This festive spirit also continues into the subsequent A Christmas Peril, with a few notes from Tchaikovsky’s Dance Of The Sugar-Plum Fairy from his classic The Nutcracker works playing rather dramatically on loud brass, which then features rather prominently for much of the four minute track. Wreck The Halls dials up the action considerably, with loud bursts of tense brass taking centre stage alongside rumbles of percussion and Yelena’s theme reprising once again in dramatic form towards the end of the piece.
Slow, solemn strings open Star Of Wonder, with a few gently downtrodden notes from both Kate and Hawkeye’s themes playing through on quiet brass. This solemnity doesn’t last for long though as Ruckus Around The Christmas Tree kicks things back up into action territory. Frantic strings and bursts of dramatic brass kick off the track with the medieval-esque instrumentation from LARP In The Park then making a surprise re-appearance, this time playing in loudly heroic form together with Kate’s theme. The standout track of volume two is then up next in Give ‘Em Hell; the orchestra loudly bursts into the fray within a few seconds of the cue starting, with both Kate and Hawkeye’s themes then taking centre stage in proudly grandiose form for pretty much the entirety of the three minute track, playing through several fist-pumpingly epic renditions before then closing on a triumphant finish. The action then turns oppressive and rather sinister in Archer Enemies, with crashes of in-your-face percussion and bursts of frantic brass building to crescendo together with a rather worried Kate’s theme at the two minute mark. Natasha then brings back Lorne Balfe’s theme for Black Widow for a full and quite lengthy rendition, though this time in quietly mournful form on slow, solemn strings. As the album starts to draw to a close, Lady Hawk reprises Hawkeye’s theme on gently upbeat strings at the start before rousing brass builds the motif back up to full heroic might. This then leads quite nicely into Quiver Bells; a slower but still proudly heroic rendition of the main title piece, with Hawkeye’s theme held naturally and triumphantly high.
All-in, the second volume of Christophe Beck and Michael Paraskevas’ Hawkeye score simply strengthens an already pretty amazing soundtrack. Both Hawkeye and Kate’s themes feature fairly prominent and act almost as musical co-leads particularly towards the end (which of course makes sense given the context of the show). One thing that I really must celebrate here as well is the fantastic thematic continuity displayed, with the composers having not only brought in motifs from both Lorne Balfe’s Black Widow and Alan Silvestri’s Avengers: Infinity War and played them as and when you’d expect to hear them, but also having treated them with the love and care they absolutely deserve. It’s always great to hear themes reprise in scores other than their own, and I have to say the composers have done a really great job with it here too. That coupled with more than a few highly enjoyable new action cues and a decidedly entertaining album experience overall has not only cemented my already very positive opinion of Hawkeye‘s score, but also elevated it to one of the better television scores of the year.
Standout Cues: 1. Hawkeye’s Theme/12. Give ‘Em Hell
Follow me on Twitter for the latest soundtrack and review-based news!