Why Hawkeye is a Better Avenger Than You Think
Joss Whedon‘s 2012 The Avengers is an incredible movie. I’ll start there. It’s got so much going for it: the performances, the action, the humor, the special effects. On top of all that, it’s amazing that the film even got made. Prior to this movie, Joss Whedon was mostly known for his amazing television shows (not that I’m biased), such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and of course Firefly. So for Marvel to trust Whedon to not only direct, but also to write, the movie culminating the past five entries in the Marvel Universe (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Captain America: The First Avenger, Thor, and The Incredible Hulk), was a pretty big risk.
So why am I angry? Well, one of the film’s heroes gets the short end of the arrow. After the movie was released, many fans made fun of Jeremy Renner‘s Hawkeye for being a less-than-useful addition to the team, considering that he doesn’t have any superpowers, yet was somehow allowed to fight alongside Iron Man, Thor and the rest of the Avengers. I submit that it is for this very reason we should all be thoroughly appreciative of Hawkeye’s efforts.
So why does Clint Barton deserve our respect? Let’s start with his origin as a superhero and member of The Avengers. When he was a youngster, he lost his parents in a car accident, and he and his brother ended up in an orphanage for six years. [pullquote-right]Despite not having any superpowers whatsoever, at the end of the day, he is still a supremely talented archer.[/pullquote-right]They eventually ran away and joined the circus. Clint picked up his abilities as a master marksman while training in the circus. Hawkeye came from nothing and built his abilities on willpower and practice. If you compare this brief glimpse into his background with the origins of some of the more well-known Avengers, you get a clear picture as to why he deserves our admiration.
Tony Stark came from a wealthy family and while he is preternaturally gifted with superior intelligence, his resources are what really boosted his ability to become a superhero. Of course, he invented the Arc Reactor that would become the energy source for the Iron Man suits he would also invent, but again: he couldn’t have created anything without the money that came from his family.
Thor is literally a Norse god. His powers come from the fact that he’s a Norse god.
Bruce Banner became the Hulk when one if his experiments went awry – a total accident that gifted/cursed him with his alter ego. However, just like Stark, without the resources he was given for his experiment, he would never have become the Hulk.
While Steve Rogers had a similar background to Barton, with his parents being taken away at a young age, and similar character strengths, such as his perseverance and willpower, Rogers is different from Barton in one key aspect: the serum used to gift Rogers with his strength. Without the serum, there would be no Captain America.
If you take away the resources from these other heroes, Barton stacks up much more strongly with them. Even with the superpowers and resources, Hawkeye is still a key member of the Avengers. In fact, in the comics, Iron Man even sponsors Barton’s entry into the team. If this alone doesn’t convince you, let’s take a look at his contributions in the movie.
Barton is a dangerous man. Take his part in the assault on SHIELD while under Loki’s influence. He shoots an arrow from the open end of an aircraft, through the air, into the hull of the helicarrier, which explodes. He just about takes down the entire operation with one arrow.
Then there’s this shot during the New York battle sequence:
The man is a beast, no two ways about it. And yet, compared to Scarlett Johansson‘s Black Widow, he is largely ignored. Granted, Black Widow is given much more to do, but if we take an objective look at what each character is able to do, Barton is arguably more talented than Romanov. Yes, she is excellent with hand-to-hand combat (as is Hawkeye), but while she has two measly pistols with which to dole out damage, Hawkeye’s bow and bevy of trick arrows, combined with his insane accuracy, deal even more damage. Despite not having any superpowers whatsoever, at the end of the day, he is still a supremely talented archer.
Here’s the biggest point going for Barton: he takes down Loki. He spots the foe and takes the shot, who catches the arrow before it can strike him. However, the arrow has an explosive tip, which detonates right in Loki’s face and sends him flying into Tony Stark’s loft (and, of course, the Hulk basically crushes his entire body).
So while ScarJo is on top of Stark Tower with Stellan Skarsgård‘s Dr. Selvig closing the portal, and the rest of the heroes are dealing with the Chitauri forces, Hawkeye stops the main villain of the movie. And yet, Hawkeye is the one that gets made fun of for being the low man on the Avengers totem pole? There have been lesser injustices in our time.
I urge you to rewatch the fabulous movie The Avengers (which you should do anyways), this time focusing in on why Hawkeye is the real hero of the movie.