Warning: SPOILERS for Old Man Hawkeye #5
Marvel's movie universe may be in bad shape now, but is it doomed to become the post-apocalyptic world of the Old Man Logan comics?
It's a question most comic book fans never thought to ask, since it has its very own designation as Earth-807128 in Marvel's Multiverse. But with the Old Man Hawkeye comic series fleshing out the future wasteland, in a story set a few years before Logan's, some compelling new evidence has arrived.
That's all thanks to Hawkeye's flashback to the world - and the Avengers Tower - that once was before the end of civilization. Oh, and the version of Bucky Barnes about to start dropping bodies... both of which look like perfect matches for the MCU.
To Marvel fans who may not be familiar with the Old Man Logan, or Hawkeye comics (or the fictional world of Earth-807128 in which they're set), the premise was never too complicated. When introduced by Mark Millar and Andrea Sorrentino, it was simply "a future." One in which the villains united, killed all the heroes with Wolverine's unwitting help, and carved up the Mad Max-esque wasteland among themselves.
But heroes like Hawkeye still remember how things used to be, as shown in Old Man Hawkeye #5, back when he and Nat called Avengers Tower home.
Of course, that was before Hawkeye was betrayed by his teammates, saw his friends and loved ones murdered, Red Skull became President, Hulk filled California with his inbred offspring... you get the idea. But the image of Avengers Tower shown in the flashback should stand out, since it's a carbon-copy of the version in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A no-brainer for casual fans, but a detail worth noting for seasoned comic book fans.
Why? Because the Avengers Tower has existed in the comics for decades, long before Joss Whedon and his art team designed the version introduced in the first Avengers film. Originally designed as Stark Tower, the asymmetrical silhouette and "Stark" branding would eventually morph into the Avengers' official base of operations. And that design, including placement of the "A" became instantly recognizable across all other MCU films and TV shows. And, apparently, in the past once inhabited by Old Man Hawkeye.
But before fans get to wondering what Ethan Sacks and Marco Checchetto are up to, and intend readers to make the connection to the MCU, another familiar face makes a surprise appearance. It's Bullseye who's hunting down Hawkeye for one last supervillainous rush, but he's not the Red Skull's secret weapon.
That honor goes to Bucky Barnes, a.k.a. the Winter Soldier.
Again, it's not the comic book version of Winter Soldier from the story adapted to the Captain America movie - but that exact version. The hair, costume, mask, and arm are all based on the MCU incarnation played by Sebastian Stan (and eventually "cured" by Steve Rogers and Shuri).
Paired with the Avengers Tower, fans get to ask some incredible questions. Questions that may not have an impact on the "canon" recognized by Marvel, but are certainly being raised by the storytellers. Are fans to deduce that the Old Man Hawkeye/Logan future was once the reality seen in the MCU? And if not explicitly the movie universe, is it one that was once identical to it, before diverging into a bleak and terrible future? It's a fun idea to consider, especially since it's one step ahead of Marvel Studios, already linking the Avengers past with an X-Men future.
And finally showing Hawkeye getting to star in a badass story... even if it takes the end of the world to make it happen.
Old Man Hawkeye #5 is available now from Marvel Comics.