Hawkeye is the mocked, the misunderstood and the misrepresented Avenger. He has been cut out of one movie, underused in another and given a farm just to make things worse. It’s high time Hawkeye received equal attention to his teammates. Can he wield the power of the gods? No. Does he have the ability to fly? Not quite. Can he expand into a much larger creature and crush his enemies? Absolutely (more on this later).
With Captain America: Civil War about to burst onto the scene, we bring you the comprehensive backstory and history of Hawkeye, the superhero who deserves so much more.
Here are the 12 Things You Didn’t Know About Hawkeye.
Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, wasn’t always a force for good. In fact, authors Stan Lee and Don Heck introduced him to audiences as a villain (something a Netflix series could explore). First appearing in the September 1964 issue of Tales of Suspense, Hawkeye was presented as a staunch enemy to Iron Man. Several bad influences and Barton’s tumultuous background left him more confused than malicious, however, and he eventually righted the ship.
It took Hawkeye a good nine months of character development before he sorted out his alliances and got drafted into the big leagues in Avengers, Vol. 1 (published in May 1965). Clint’s murky history stayed with him until Iron Man forgived him and brought him aboard, making Hawkeye a mainstay of the Avengers for the next 60+ years.
Unless your name is Katniss Everdeen, archery has become a lost art. In the middle ages, the bow and arrow was a deadly weapon that kept distant armies at bay. If you’ve kept the sport alive, then you know how much strength and precision archery requires. According to experts, the bows of the strongest men have a 75-pound draw weight. That’s pretty impressive.
How much can Clint Barton pull, you ask? 250 pounds, or over three times what the strongest men can muster. When looking at the likes of Thor and the Hulk, Hawkeye may not seem like much of a threat, but he’s at the very peak of human conditioning. He’s like Lance Armstrong sans performance-enhancing drugs. His only weakness? Limited arrows, which research shows is a maximum of thirty-two in his quiver.
Their deaths sent Clint and his brother, Bernard (referred to as Barney in the comics), to a local children’s home in Iowa. An inseparable duo for several years, the brothers eventually ran from their past and escaped the orphanage. Though his backstory has never been explored in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Clint’s early experiences in a broken home would haunt him until he finally found solace in the safety and thrill of his Hawkeye identity.
This information could be a huge source of insecurity for Clint Barton. Imaging if Tony Stark just went off on the guy for “breathing fire...or, I’m sorry. Did you walk the tightrope or guess people’s weight? I forget.” Things could end badly.
The truth is always stranger than fiction. Indeed, Barton’s backstory had him learning his archery craft while a member of the itinerant circus, the Carson Carnival of Travelling Wonders. Clint and Barney were both up and comers in the entertainment business, but Clint really excelled as an archer. While in the Carson Carnival, Clint cultivated his alter-ego, Hawkeye, who quickly became known as “The World’s Greatest Marksman.” Even Mr. Stark would have trouble mocking that.
As with Batman and Ra’s al Ghul, there’s something mythical about a protagonist learning his skills from a future archvillain. While in the circus, Clint Barton focused on bettering his abilities and developing his secondary identity as Hawkeye. To make the transition from amateur to professional, however, Barton relied on the tutelage of the Swordsman, who took the orphan boy under his wing. Impressed by his potential, Swordsman also worked alongside Trick Shot to help Clint further hone his skills with the bow and arrow.
After catching Swordsman stealing from the Carnival, however, Clint tried to stop his instructor, but was severely beaten before he could bring him to justice. Though Swordsman got away, Trick Shot would return later in the comics as a spectre of Clint’s past.
Though he may have been cut from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Hawkeye learned his crime-fighting and pugilism from the oldest warrior around. Captain America helped Hawkeye brush up on his hand-to-hand combat, martial arts and more when the latter was coming up through the ranks. Though their partnership remained tumultuous throughout the comics, Hawkeye and Captain America always held a mutual respect for one another.
Despite their mercurial relationship, Hawkeye would later take Cap’s training and apply it to the formation of the Thunderbolts, a ragtag team of villains converted into heroes (a process for which Clint could sympathize). Since abandoning Baron Zemo (who we can expect to see in Captain America: Civil War), the Thunderbolts would benefit from Hawkeye’s experience as an Avenger and become a powerful force in their own right.
Captain America: Civil War won’t be the first time Hawkeye and Iron Man fight on different sides. It all started when Clint Barton saw Iron Man suited up and saving lives. Ever after, Barton dedicated himself to living as Hawkeye and keeping up with the standards of Tony Stark. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned. Hawkeye found himself fighting alongside his lover, Black Widow, attempting to steal a Stark International user interface chip from the billionaire playboy. This led to a huge fiasco that had Iron Man down for the count.
Eventually, after Hawkeye and Black Widow got outclassed by Titanium Man, Stark swooped in and saved the day, teaming up with the couple to defeat Justin Hammer (and his minion, Titanium Man). Stark later reprimanded Hawkeye for his dubious actions, causing the archer to flee the city and rethink his existence.
Commitment is Clint Barton’s middle name. Hungry and driven to join the Avengers, Hawkeye physically broke into the team’s mansion just to get their attention. On one occasion, Hawkeye saved Jarvis (depicted as the Avengers’ butler in the comics) and his mother from an aggressive thief. Grateful for the help, Jarvis first offered to buy Hawkeye dinner, and then upped the ante by staging a show at the Avengers mansion.
Tied up in ropes, Jarvis waited for Iron Man and Captain America to return before letting Hawkeye work his magic. Enter The Mightiest Marksman in the World, who promptly frees Jarvis with a slew of perfectly placed arrows. This convincing theatricality quickly convinced the Avengers to let Hawkeye join the team.
After Black Widow was nearly killed in a battle against Iron Man, Hawkeye saved her life, only for her to run away and dump him. Maybe it’s better for the Marvel movies to leave these sordid details behind, as they've done so far.
David vs. Goliath is the greatest grudge match in the history of the world. No kryptonite or mech suits were needed, just a slingshot and a round rock.
No wonder, then, that Hawkeye saw the appeal in shuffling off his mortal coil and morphing into the big and bad Goliath. After his trusted bow snapped in the midst of battle, Clint followed in Hank Pym’s footsteps and put on the full armor of Goliath. This was a welcome change for the one Avenger who had no true superpowers.
Suddenly, Hawkeye was the center of attention during the Kree-Skrull war, using Pym particles to help save the planet. As Hulk gets angry and Thor wields his hammer, boosting Hawkeye into Goliath territory could be a welcome twist in Avengers: Infinity War Part 1.
After his successful entry into the Avengers, Hawkeye was quickly joined by two additional recruits: Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, the superbly talented siblings. Hawkeye instantly developed an attraction to Scarlet Witch, though her overly protective brother did his best to put out the fire.
While Hawkeye’s passions never subsided, Scarlet Witch developed a relationship with Vision, which practically neutered Hawkeye of all his confidence. For someone so skilled with a bow and arrow, he ultimately lacked the finesse of his ancient predecessor, Cupid. This rejection sent Hawkeye into a sort of free fall that made him abandon his alternate identity as Goliath and return to his original costume. As Hawkeye discovered, nothing will change your mood like a quick change of clothes.
America is all about expansion. Even superheroes need to mark their territory, especially when their ranks swell with eager and exceptional fighters. At the suggestion of Vision, who believed the team should go global, Hawkeye made the Avengers a bicoastal franchise and became Chairman and Founder of the West Coast Avengers.
Based in Los Angeles, Hawkeye set up camp along with fellow superheroes Mockingbird, Wonder Man, Tigra and Iron Man (though Jim Rhodes was the man behind the suit, to much of the team’s eventual surprise). Created by Roger Stern and Bob Hall, the West Coast Avengers began in 1984. Thanks to Hawkeye, they became the breeding ground for countless additional stories in the Marvel Universe.
What else should everyone know about Hawkeye? What role will he play in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Tell us in the comments section!