You know what the Marvel Universe is very good at giving us? Snarky. We will make jokes, while we fight for our lives. We will seem plucky, even against terrible odds; a little humanity, out among the stars doing the best we can with our tiny primate brains and our completely overblown senses of superiority. Yes, Tony. That’s you I’m mostly talking about.
These men stride like gods across the stars alongside gods made flesh, who look like men but have a disarming lack of humanity. They have no connection to the common flesh, to aches and pain, or the gradual creep of age and the inevitable frailties of the mortal frame.
Hawkeye reminds us that the Avengers isn’t only about the powers, the technology, the fantastic wealth, fame, cars, or anything else Tony Stark thought to buy during his time on Earth.
The Avengers are about people — people who hope to use their opportunities, their privilege, to stand between a hostile Universe and a still-growing, still-evolving, hopefully-surviving humanity.
Why Give Hawkeye a Series?
Hawkeye, lacking any of that super-humanity his comrades take for granted, stands there on the very same line as the rest of the super-powered Avengers, armed with two sticks and a wire.
Carrying a brass set that large around will age a man.
Jumping from buildings, dodging explosions, fighting off aliens, along with his other super-spy work over the decades has worn on our archer, the way such a dynamic and fantastic life might wear on any mere mortal who hoped to walk the same path, fighting among, and occasionally slayinh, terrifying genocidal gods, and living to tell the tale.
Hawkeye is tired. He’s retired, looking to walk away from a career, very few people walk away from. Working with SHIELD, few operatives can say they lived long enough to receive their pension. Among the super-spy community, there are even fewer pensioners.
With the sting of Natasha’s death still ringing in his heart, Hawkeye wants nothing more than to retire to his family, enjoying Christmas, and pretending he is plain old Clint Barton, retired superhero, super-spy, and all around savior of the Universe.
Hawkeye doesn’t know how good he has it. Just ask Kate Bishop — a young woman who, as a child, watched Hawkeye fight against the Chitauri as an Avenger and she was moved by his heroic mien. She became a martial artist, a dancer, a fencer, and in her own inestimable estimation, “one of the finest archers in the world.” All because she hoped to one day be as good as the best archer in the world.
Fate would bring these two together in a perfect moment to hand off a legacy. Hawkeye would get to live. With his guilt. His shame. His madness. His failure.
Kate thinks Hawkeye is the greatest thing since slice bread. All he needs is better branding.
How could this go wrong?
I am certain there will be plenty of people who will rant and rave about how there isn’t enough action, or, there is too much talking, or, why is this part taking so long? I love every scene where Renner is trying to remember how to be a parent — every time he remembers his daughter is the smartest of his three kids — every time he looks worn and weary and yet maintains his aplomb.
The renaissance faire was pure magic to me. Hawkeye is the bigger man. He is a good man, who was for a while a very bad man. I think he is troubled by it. Will it ever truly be addressed? Can it be? Or will his retirement be his punishment?
So many questions. So many expectations. After three episodes, we have been hinted with the threat of the enforcer Echo, the dapper dilettante himself the Swordsman, a master of the blade with few equals, and if Echo is about, can the Kingpin be far behind? If the Kingpin, perhaps even the Devil, himself?
Hawkeye is the part of the Avenger’s stories we don’t hear enough about, about the men who run alongside the angels and get tired of trying to keep up. Hawkeye is about the realization that you can’t keep doing this forever and learning to be okay with it.
To be able to move to a new phase of your life, a new phase of existence and in this case, a new phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe —Hawkeye’s retirement would mean the Avengers as we knew them are no more.
What About the New Avengers?
There is no current charter. Nick Fury is off world. Thor is off world, Ant-Man is still around, but War Machine looks retired. Captain Marvel is off world. Steve Rogers is retired. Captain America is on assignment. Natasha and Tony are deceased. Wait, we have Shang-Chi. The Wasp will probably help Ant-Man. Monica Rambeau may have more fully developed abilities by then. But this team is not the Avengers. Not yet.
What a bummer for Kate. She found her inspiration. Had an adventure. Survived. Shot trick arrows. And maybe convinced Hawkeye to teach her a few more things, just in time for the Avengers to need to be completely rebuilt from scratch.
This series goes to the heart of why heroes do what they do, simply put, why Hawkeye is the most avenging of the Avengers, because it won’t last forever and the window for hanging with gods is about a decade before something goes horribly wrong. If there were ever a time to be a founding member of a new team of Avengers, Kate: the time is now.
The best scene in the series is when Clint has lost his hearing aid and has to take a call from his son. Kate steps in and interprets beautifully. Renner is good. This was magic. Who’s going to be the new Avengers? Maybe by the end of Hawkeye we might have some ideas.
Give Hawkeye a shot1. Plucky Humans. They grow on you. Their humanity is inspiring. They remind the rest of us “mere Humans,” just how special that can be.
That’s what the Avengers have been missing in all of their snark: a reminder of the humanity at the heart of this. Brave. Heroic. Oh so, Human.
1I see what you did there, Thaddeus. — ed.
Thaddeus Howze is an award-winning writer, editor, podcaster and activist creating speculative fiction, scientific, political and cultural commentary from his office in Hayward, California.
Thaddeus’ speculative fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals. He has published two books, ‘Hayward’s Reach’ (2011), a collection of short stories and ‘Broken Glass’ (2013) an urban fantasy novella starring his favorite paranormal investigator, Clifford Engram.