Our next Avengers Spotlight takes a look at the team’s resident master marksman, Clint Barton AKA Hawkeye. Barton made his first appearance in ‘Tales of Suspense’ # 57 in 1964. He was created by Stan Lee and artist Don Heck as a villain, but he quickly changed his ways and joined The Avengers in 1965. Since then, he’s been a fan favorite and staple of the team.
Clint Barton was born in Waverly, Iowa. He lost his parents at a young age and was left at an orphanage with his brother, Barney. After six years, Clint and his brother ran away to join the carnival, where the Swordsman took him on as an assistant. Under the tutelage of Swordsman and Trick Shot, he became a master archer. After being severely beaten down by the Swordsman, who was embezzling money from the carnival, Clint was left for dead and all alone.
Barton used his master archery skills to become a star attraction with a few different carnivals. He was billed as “Hawkeye: The World’s Greatest Marksman”. After jumping from carnival to carnival, Hawkeye joined the Coney Island Circus, where he first witnessed the heroics of Iron Man. It was then that he was inspired to become a costumed hero.
However, it was also then that the archer first met The Black Widow, a Soviet super spy, with whom he fell in love. Blindly following her on a mission to steal from Tony Stark, Hawkeye is mistaken for a villain. On the mission, Widow is seriously injured and is rescued by Hawkeye. But before he could get her to a hospital, she disappears. At this point, he vows to be a “straight-shooter” and retires from a life of crime to become a hero.
This kicks off a road of many heroic and romantic adventures for Hawkeye. Since his origin, he’s been romantically linked to superheroines such as the Scarlet Witch, Moonstone, Black Widow (again), The Wasp, and finally S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Bobbi Morse AKA Mockingbird. After thwarting Crossfire’s plan to destroy the superhero community, the two heroes get married and head to the west coast to start an Avengers team out there.
On one of the West Coast Avengers’ missions where the team is lost in time, Mockingbird is captured by The Phantom Rider, who drugs her, convinces her that they are in love, and has his way with her. After regaining her senses and letting Phantom Rider fall to his death during their battle, Mockingbird confesses to what she did. Appalled that his wife would cheat on him and let a man die rather than be brought to justice, Hawkeye and Mockingbird separate. They eventually reconcile, but during a battle in Hell, Mockingbird sacrifices herself to save her team and dies in Clint’s arms. Of course, as we find out during the Secret Invasion storyline, that Mockingbird was a Skrull and the real Bobbi Morse was a prisoner of the shape-shifting race, along with many other heroes. The Mr. & Mrs. Smith of the Marvel Universe are currently together, last time I checked.
Over the years, Hawkeye has been a part of and even lead many teams, including Avengers Academy, The Defenders, The Great Lakes Avengers, The New Avengers, and The Thunderbolts. Besides Hawkeye, he’s also taken up the mantles of Goliath, Ronin, The Golden Archer, and even Captain America. But no matter which alias he goes by, he always finds his way back to the original Avengers.
Shining Moment on the Page
During House of M, when Wanda Maximoff, The Scarlet Witch, lost control of her powers and causes a Kree warship to appear above New York City, Hawkeye gets severely injured in the battle. Rather than rolling over and dying, the archer flies into the engines of the Kree warship, destroying the craft and sacrificing himself to save everyone.
When Wanda alters reality inadvertently, Hawkeye is resurrected with no memory of what previously happened. A young mutant named Layla Miller is able to make a group of heroes, including Hawkeye, remember what exactly happened with the Scarlet Witch. Clint is horrified by the actions of his former lover, friend, and teammate, so he shoots her in the back with an arrow. As retaliation, one of Wanda’s fake children wipes Hawkeye from existence, killing him once again.
When reality is restored to it’s natural state, minus a large portion of the mutant population, the Avengers presume that Clint Barton is dead. However, when they return to the ruins of Avengers Mansion, they find his bow and arrow, along with an article about his death. Hawkeye distances himself from the team for a while before rejoining and resuming his activity with The Avengers.
Shining Moment on the Screen
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Jeremy Renner plays Clint Barton. He made his first appearance as a cameo in ‘Thor’ and he will be seen again in Joss Whedon’s ‘The Avengers’. But that extremely short cameo wasn’t exactly a shining moment on screen. For that, I turn to one of the characters first animated appearances.
Back in 1999, 20th Century Fox put out ‘The Avengers: United They Stand’ for the Fox Kids block of Saturday morning cartoons. This series was loosely based on the line up of the West Coast Avengers from 1984. The team included The Wasp, Tigra, Wonder Man, Hawkeye, and the Scarlet Witch. The team was later joined by The Falcon and The Vision, and was lead by Ant-Man/Giant Man.
This series pretty much had nothing to do with the comics. Why then would I pick this as a shining moment for Hawkeye? His costume in this series was so ridiculous that I couldn’t resist sharing it. One of the infamously horrible elements of this show were the costumes as a whole. Ant-Man, Falcon, and Hawkeye all wore battle armor that was a huge departure from any of their signature looks. I thank God every time I see Hawkeye in ‘Earth’s Mightiest Heroes’ or in the live-action ‘Avengers’ because at least those costumes make Hawkeye look like Hawkeye.
Well, class, that does it for this lesson on the World’s Greatest Marksman, Clint Barton. Be sure to check back for more Avengers Spotlights as we get closer and closer to the release of Marvel’s ‘The Avengers’ on May 4th.