There’s quite a bit of suspension of disbelief required when following any sort of fictional franchise, especially one as sprawling and complicated as Marvel’s myriad multiverses. Hawkeye— love him or hate him— isn’t impervious to these little inconsistencies. From how he can possibly keep up with super-powered heroes to the weird timing of his retirement decisions, Hawkeye sure has garnered attention for some inconsistent characterizations.
Sure, entertainment giants like Marvel have a ton of employees trying to keep everything in line, but continuity errors and logical fallacies still fall through the cracks, and before you know it, there are a million memes poking (hopefully) good-natured fun at the way featured extra number three completely botches the pronunciation of a futuristic space element on which hinges the fate of the universe.
And that’s exactly what this list is: a good-natured, silly and most of all loving list of details that really just showcase how much fans adore and pay attention to the world’s best marksman. Since most comic book characters pass down superhero personas, the list is going to focus on Clint Barton and his characterizations in the MCU and comics (sorry, Kate).
Without further ado, in no particular order: 15 Things That Make No Sense About Hawkeye.
15 His main weapon is a Bow and Arrow
Let’s address the elephant in the room right off the bat: how on earth is he keeping up with the likes of Captain America and Scarlet Witch while he’s armed with a bow and arrow, especially since his quiver only holds thirty-two arrows?
Clint’s backstory in the comics is that he joins a circus as a young boy, catching the eye of the Swordsman and Trick Shot, who join force to teach a newly-orphaned Clint the secrets to becoming a master archer. Clint eventually gets the mantle of “The World’s Greatest Marksman” and joins the Avengers thanks to his superior marksmanship.
In the MCU, Clint is a highly-trained S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, and he’s clearly well-regarded within the organisation. When Selvig needed protection for the Tesseract, Hawkeye was the designated leader of his security team. His presence in the Avengers is evidence in itself that he’s an ordinary human with extraordinary skills.
That still begs the question: how trained is he really, if he’s good enough to help save humanity on the frontlines, alongside a guy who shoots lasers out of his forehead? Of course, you don’t have to be an enhanced human to old your own—Iron Man doesn’t technically have a superpower either. But Tony’s suit sure is more impressive than Hawkeye’s trademark weapon, no matter how high-tech it’s gotten over the years with his numerous trick arrows. Why not just use a gun if his aim is good no matter the weapon?
14 His Arm Guards
In an article for Wired in anticipation of the release of The Avengers, Jim MacQuarrie gave a comprehensive breakdown of all the reasons why Hawkeye is actually kind of an archery amateur, or at least as he is portrayed by Jeremy Renner in the movie. That said, a lot of it boils down to iffy technique on Renner’s part, which is also partially production’s responsibility, so it’s not exactly an indictment of Clint’s prowess. Plus, given how hard it is to actually master the sport, let alone at the level at which Hawkeye is supposed to perform, it’s understandable that Renner would have slip-ups here and there.
His costume inadvertently suggests that the World’s Greatest Marksman is perhaps not as good as everyone claims.
Hawkeye’s outfit undergoes some changes, but at one point he’s seen wearing two arm guards. The design does make him look tough, except there’s one problem: he shouldn’t need one arm guard if he’s really that good, let alone two. The highest ranked archers in real life rarely need that sort of protection, which is worn to prevent injuries from less-than-perfect technique. Unless Clint is just really dedicated to his aesthetic, maybe he’s actually smacking himself with his bowstring all the time.
13 His Perfect Aim
In Captain America: Civil War, Hawkeye comes out of retirement to help fight on behalf of Captain America’s cause. At one point in the airport scene, there’s a bit of friendly banter between him and Iron Man where Hawkeye mentions that he “just can’t seem to miss” even when playing golf. So clearly, his exceptional aim extends beyond his archery skills and encompasses other mediums, despite only getting extensive training as an archer and not as a golfer. That then begs the question: how?
He doesn’t have any superpowers or fancy technical add-ons to enhance his aim— at least, not to the point where he’s literally never missed a shot, ever. Even when he seems to miss in the very same scene with Iron Man, it turns out he does it intentionally in order to distract the billionaire. In The Avengers, Clint does say that he sees better from a distance, much like his namesake bird. Since he’s a normal human, it’s safe to assume that this is a quirk of his rather than an actual superpower. Perhaps he has far-sightedness, which isn’t all that rare among humans. That still doesn’t explain how he manages to hit everything he aims at, though.
12 His Physical Strength
Hawkeye’s physical strength is yet another quality that throws his status as a non-enhanced human into doubt, or at least makes his fictional biography wildly contradictory and inconsistent. First of all, his bow has a 250-pound draw weight, which is simply beyond ridiculous when you consider how that’s four times what the strongest male archers can handle in real life.
The power of his bow definitely helps explain how he can hit so many targets at such long distances, but it’s still improbable for someone without superhuman strength, even if he’s a highly trained S.H.I.E.L.D. agent with extensive archery training in tip-top physical shape.
Okay, maybe the training regime at S.H.I.E.L.D. is just that good, allowing mere mortals to shoot powerful arrows willy nilly. At one point, however, he even gets trapped under a car in The New Avengers, but then just casually lifts it off of himself. The issue came out in 2010, when the average weight of a American car had already risen to over 4000 pounds. It’s kind of hard to believe any amount of training can make a guy lift thousands of pounds without some sort of super serum at the very least. Wouldn’t the use of a serum qualify Hawkeye as enhanced like Cap?
11 Quicksilver the Human shield
In Avengers: Age of Ultron, the freshly introduced (to the MCU, at least) Quicksilver loses his life in the final battle against Ultron, which raises a lot of questions about his superhuman speed and how he got hit so many times in the first place.
Another puzzling piece of the scene is how Hawkeye— and the kid he saves— escapes completely unscathed from the shooting. As Ultron rains down an unescapable barrage of gunfire, Hawkeye turns to shield the child in his arms, and braces himself for the impact and inevitable end, showing just how selfless and heroic he is.
The bullets never hit him, though. Instead, Hawkeye turns to see Quicksilver covered in bullet wounds. A cursory count shows at least seven pretty intense bullet holes complete with exit wounds. The impact with Quicksilver’s body would slow and weaken the bullets, but considering he’s standing right in front of Hawkeye and the bullets’ trajectories go straight towards the archer, it’s hard to believe that Hawkeye would survive the barrage without a single scratch. Not unless he secretly has impenetrable skin like Harlem’s favorite superhero - which he obviously doesn’t, given the other injuries he sustains during the battle fight.
10 He gets put in The Raft
After the Clash of the Avengers that takes places in Captain America: Civil War, Hawkeye gets thrown into the Raft along with other members of the losing team. There are a lot of explanations on why he and Scott Lang are allowed to only be on house arrest after breaking out of a high security prison and violating the Sokovia Accords by destroying an airport. Why is Hawkeye thrown in the Raft in the first place?
According to Alisa Jones in the second season of Jessica Jones, the Raft was built expressly to imprison people with superhuman abilities. Clint Barton does not have any superhuman abilities. In fact, his normal status has always been a part of what made Hawkeye so special among a crowd of superheroes.
Even Tony Stark seems surprised when he visits Cap’s defeated crew in prison, noting that he didn’t realise the authorities would put Hawkeye in there.
Perhaps Tony is referring to all of Cap’s crew, not knowing that they would all be thrown in such an extreme place. Or, considering his familiarity with the Sokovia Accords, he is talking specifically about the perfectly un-enhanced Hawkeye being locked up in a prison for superhumans. In any case, it’s obvious that throwing Hawkeye into the Raft makes no sense.
9 His Hypocrisy
Given the long history of Hawkeye, spanning over fifty years, it’s not surprising that the character’s attributes have changed over the years, especially in different multiverses at the hands of varying writers. One of these constantly morphing attributes is his wildly fluctuating opinions on taking lives.
At first, he tries not to even injure anyone as he starts his career as a vigilante. Once he joins forces with Black Widow (a Soviet spy in this iteration), he seems more than prepared to finish off Iron Man multiple times. When he finally takes out his first baddie, Egghead, he does feel a little taken aback since it is an unplanned incident on top of being his first fatality. Eventually, he reaches the conclusion that the villain deserved to lose his life.
Hawkeye’s contradictory attitude towards taking out bad guys shows up when he finds out his wife Bobbi Morse, aka Mockingbird, let the Phantom Rider (who brainwashed and abused) fall off a cliff. Even though she didn’t technically end him, just passively let him perish, Hawkeye insists that he doesn’t believe that taking lives is a good solution to any issue.
It’s later explained that it’s a written rule that the Avengers aren’t allowed to take lives, but Hawkeye sure forgot about his attempts on Iron Man’s life pretty conveniently.
8 His Treatment of Mockingbird
Throughout the numerous iterations of Hawkeye, his upstanding moral character has been pretty consistent, which makes his reaction to Mockingbird’s lie about the Phantom Rider’s passing nonsensical - and unfair to her. When Crossfire seriously injures Mockingbird’s mom, Hawkeye is already angry enough to accompany Mockingbird when she barges into Crossfire’s lair— and this is before they even get romantically involved, which shows how deep their bond is. When Mockingbird finally returns with her mind finally free from the Phantom Rider, who had controlled her mind and abused her, Hawkeye seems understanding and considerate of the entire ordeal she went through.
As soon as he learns that Mockingbird let her tormenter perish, Hawkeye jus completely loses it, going on a tirade that eventually leads to their divorce. He insists that letting the Phantom Rider fall off a cliff is essentially the same as actively ending him. He even goes on to believe the Phantom Rider’s word over Mockingbird’s, dismissing her trauma from being drugged and assaulted just because she lied about her assailant’s passing.
It’s a complete personality 180, not to mention absurd that he would believe a villain’s version of events rather than his own wife.
7 His Farm and Family
Despite the long and complex relationship between Mockingbird and Hawkeye, their relationship is pretty much non-existent in the MCU. Instead, it turns out good old Clint Barton, in true grounded everyman fashion, has a secret family who lives on an isolated farm this entire time. According to the archer, Nick Fury set up this safe haven off the grid just as he recruited him into S.H.I.E.L.D., even going so far as to make sure that it stays off S.H.I.E.L.D.’s records.
From the sheer surprise in the team’s reactions (except for Natasha “Auntie Nat” Romanoff), it’s almost as though he’s the only S.H.I.E.L.D agent to ever have a family, especially considering Fury has kept them off the records.
Based on the way Hawkeye phrased it, maybe keeping his family a secret is special treatment granted only to Clint— where other families are kept on file, Clint’s is thoroughly under the radar.
In any case, the details of the whole secret family farm situation are muddy, thrown into the movie with absolutely nothing to suggest it beforehand. Also, it sure does seem like the family leaves the door unlocked, judging by the ease with which Clint pushes it open. So much for a secure home.
6 His Deep, Dark Secret
Hawkeye's deep dark secret is apparently that he has no deep, dark secret. At least, not according to Joss Whedon, the mastermind behind Clint’s secret family farm in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Whedon really leans into the everyman side of Hawkeye, saying that his “dark side” is simply being an average American husband, with a wife, two kids, and a third on the way - an element that pulls Hawkeye away from the grandeur of being part of an elite squad.
It’s hard to believe that such a highly-regarded S.H.I.E.L.D. agent has absolutely nothing that haunts him.
No missions gone sideways, no questionable choice that keeps him up at night, no grappling with morality and deep-seated doubts about what he’s doing and how he’s doing it. Not even any trauma from the ordeal of having his autonomy stripped from him when Loki controlled his mind. Even his most plausible secret shame in the MCU— “abandoning” his white picket fence family to fight for the greater good— is brushed off as “not a secret.” There’s plenty of material there that could cause internal conflict!
On top of that, even the most "normcore" of humans has a skeletons in their closet, let alone a guy who has witnessed a near stranger take multiple bullets for him and has been controlled by a sorcerer.
5 Coming Out Of Retirement
If his family has been of the upmost importance to him right from the beginning of his S.H.I.E.L.D. career, why does he just casually come out of retirement in order to fight for Cap’s side in Captain America: Civil War? Sure, he does say it’s because he owes Wanda a debt. Still, he must have known that the fight over the Sokovia Accords is risky, and losing means facing consequences that will affect his family, even if he doesn’t necessarily anticipate being thrown into a prison for superhuman criminals.
The timing and reasons are what seem odd about his on-and-off retirement. Sure, perhaps the battle against Ultron was particularly traumatic for him (even though he doesn’t have a dark side, right?), and prompted him into retirement despite years of service with S.H.I.E.L.D. Yet he promptly puts his neck on the line again by working with Cap, all because he thinks he’s indebted to Wanda after the passing of her brother.
He could have thought of living his best life with his family as a way to honor Quicksilver’s sacrifice, but instead chooses to put his neck in danger again. Surely there are better ways to make it up to Scarlet Witch other than risking the very life that Quicksilver gave his own to save.
4 House Arrest
Speaking of retirement, it turns out Hawkeye’s absence in Avengers: Infinity War is due to his house arrest, a deal he took in order to spend more time with his family - what with all the risks he’s been taking throughout the franchise. However, as mentioned before, this is a guy who’s willing to lose his life for a small kid he doesn’t even know, ready to accept his end as he shields that child from Ultron’s gunfire. Okay, maybe he has changed his mind since then.
Surely, the magnitude of the situation would persuade him to come out of retirement more than Cap’s motivation in Civil War, which honestly looks like a spat in comparison to the destruction of the whole universe. Perhaps Hawkeye decides the more worthwhile option is to spend the apocalypse with his loved ones.
With his track record of heroism, it’s hard to believe that Hawkeye wouldn’t join forces with the crew in the battle against Thanos, since that would increase everyone’s chances of surviving, including his family.
In any case, it’s odd that he isn’t forced out of retirement to help save everyone. You’d think that with the universe at stake, the authorities would gladly shove him out to the frontlines again.
3 Loki's Mind Control
Hawkeye’s heavily anticipated introduction into the MCU (not including his cameo in Thor) isn’t particularly glamorous. In The Avengers, he’s the leader of the team assigned to protect Selvig’s team and the Tesseract, is swiftly mind-controlled by Loki along with most of his team, and spends most of the movie as a brainwashed lackey doing Loki’s bidding. Fortunately, Black Widow eventually smacks him on the head, freeing him from Loki’s mind control. Afterward, Hawkeye is hell-bent on getting his revenge against the Asgardian sorcerer responsible for stripping him of his autonomy as well as taking out multiple S.H.I.E.L.D. agents.
Considering the long stretch of time that he spends under Loki’s influence and the anger he feels because of it, it’s surprising how well he takes the whole ordeal after the events of the movie. In comparison, Selvig doesn’t fare well at all. As seen in Thor: The Dark World, the scientist is dealing with the aftermath of Loki’s mind control, even being institutionalized for a short while because of all the mental trauma. Hawkeye, on the other hand, seems completely unfazed despite the experience. At least, not enough for it to become fuel for a dark, haunting secret for him.
2 Hawkeye's mind is weaker than Selvig's
In addition to Hawkeye and Selvig’s wildly differing experiences after being brainwashed, they seem to have different experiences during the mind control as well. Selvig’s fail-safe plays a pivotal role in the movie, providing a way to seal off the portal and keep the Chitauri out. The problem is that Selvig implements the fail-safe while he is still under Loki’s mind control. He has enough presence of mind to create such a crucial feature without even alerting Loki. On the other hand, Hawkeye is practically a puppet under Loki’s influence.
There is not a single hint that Hawkeye could resist the Mind Stone embedded in Loki’s scepter, let alone do something as complicated as installing a critical feature in some alien technology, and it isn’t until Black Widow knocks him out of it that he realizes what he’s done. Hawkeye is an extensively trained S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who holds his own alongside enhanced humans with his unbelievably honed skills. Meanwhile, Selvig— as smart a scientist as he is— is not trained in fighting, tactics, or anything of the sort. It doesn't make sense that Selvig’s the one who could resist Loki’s mind control and save the day, while Hawkeye spends the movie obeying Loki’s orders.
1 Bow... But No Arrow
Hawkeye doesn’t have any superpowers, and that’s part of his appeal: the idea that training hard and having your heart in the right place puts you on the same level as those who were born with or eventually given superhuman abilities. He’s Clint Barton, a mortal and grounded everyman who relies on his skills with a bow and arrow. You’d figure that it’s a pretty big deal if he doesn’t have his iconic weapons of choice in a tense scene.
During Hawkeye’s uncredited cameo in Thor, he actually doesn’t have an arrow as he draws his bow when Thor fails to lift his hammer.
This is really more of a continuity error or production oversight than a flaw in logic, but it’s still a pretty major blunder. After all, the character is known for his archery skills, and depends on his trick arrows and slick marksmanship to keep up with all these superhumans who would be otherwise running circles around him.
Plus, the scene is literally his first appearance in the MCU, so failing to include an arrow kind of undercuts the satisfaction of seeing yet another beloved and iconic comic book hero brought to life on the big screen.
Do you have any logic gaps to point out about Hawkeye? Tell us in the comments below!