Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye has been something of a underutilized quantity in Marvel's Avengers cinematic universe. A tease appearance in Thor; a supporting hero/villain role in Avengers... Marvel's' iconic archer has been treated as second tier while virtually every one of his co-stars have been given an expanded spotlight.
After Renner himself lamented the lack of onscreen time for Hawkeye, it was revealed that the character will get more to do in The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Yet and still, even if Hawkeye does play a bigger role in Avengers 2, that won't likely amount to a whole lot, overall; Age of Ultron is still a team ensemble film - and one with more new characters to service than the first film had. Compared to such demands, how much Hawkeye do you really expect to get?
No, it seems that solo and spinoff projects are where Hawkeye could realistically get more time to shine - but don't hope for a Hawkeye solo film, because that isn't happening. However, like his fellow (former) S.H.I.E.L.D. agents - Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) - Hawkeye could conceivably be a strong supporting character in another Marvel solo film - and it sounds like that could very well be the plan.
While in an interview with Collider, Jeremy Renner let the following tidbit of information drop in regards to Hawkeye's future in the MCU:
“There are rumblings of Captain America 3. I don’t know what’s going to happen there. I’ve got to find the time, man (laughs). I’m trying to stay home and I can’t.”
Considering his prominence in both Marvel Comics, Marvel animation, and his long time as a player in the cinematic universe, it really is crazy that we've seen so little of Hawkeye. Even when present, we've seen so little of the character's trademark sarcasm and badassery; he's been more of a ballistics tool than an actual character, all things being honest.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier took some underutilized players from Avengers (Cap, Fury, Hill) and fleshed them out into more dynamic and downright cool characters by way of a more grounded espionage thriller. If Renner is right about Hawkeye's future, then Captain America 3 could very well do the same for his character; after all, Hawkeye looks more sensible fighting alongside enhanced humans and elite agents than he does Gamma monsters, Thunder Gods and killer Robots.
The bottom line is: Hawkeye needs something of a meaty story arc - in whichever film we get him in. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. already snagged Mockingbird (a character who has major connections to Hawkeye), so there's little chance of that storyline playing out onscreen; that is, unless Renner is planning a trip to TV. Even Black Widow is rumored to have a full date card in Avengers 2 - and her and Hawkeye's connection is about the only development the purple archer has had to this point. The Loki mind-control stuff could still be a factor, but how enticing would that be?
It's literally a question mark when it comes to where this character can go - or if he can still fit into an increasingly super-powered MCU - or if the character even has enough lure on his own to compete with likes of RDJ or Rocket Raccoon. Then again, maybe that's the hook right there: Hawkeye, a former top-of-the-food-chain elite agent, learning how to find his place in a world of Marvels.
Whatever the case, we know Captain America 3's story will take place years after Winter Soldier, and will still be focused on the "complex" relationship between Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan). With the fate of Chris Evans' Cap still uncertain, Hawkeye could be onboard for one of the bumpiest rides in MCU history if he's in Cap 3; not to mention, a lot of fans would probably get a kick out of watching The Hawk go bullet-to-arrow with Frank Grillo's Crossbones. Fingers crossed.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron will be in theaters on May 1, 2015.
Captain America 3 will be in theaters May 6, 2016.