Being cast in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is a dream come true for many actors. The franchise not only offers financial benefits but also the opportunity to develop characters over multiple films. However, for Jeremy Renner, who portrayed Clint Barton, also known as Hawkeye, in the MCU, the journey was not without its ups and downs.
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Renner’s MCU debut came in 2011 when he made a cameo appearance as the highly skilled marksman in “Thor.” However, it was his role in “The Avengers” that initially left him feeling disappointed. The reason? A brainwashing plot twist that prevented his character from shining.
In “The Avengers,” Clint Barton was tasked with guarding the Tesseract, an alien artifact, at a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility. When Loki, Thor’s brother, attacked and seized control of Clint’s mind, the character spent a significant portion of the film as Loki’s brainwashed lieutenant. This development left fans and Renner himself wanting more, as it prevented Hawkeye from showcasing the complexity he possessed in the comics.
Renner didn’t shy away from expressing his dissatisfaction. In a 2016 Q&A session at London Film and Comic Con, he revealed that during the production of “The Avengers,” he frequently joked with the cast and crew about the possibility of his character being killed off. He humorously said, “I’m giving you an option, if you just want to kick me out of this movie. Just, you know, at any given moment, if you wanna kill me off, daddy’s gonna be having a heart attack.”
While Renner’s role in “The Avengers” may not have fully showcased his talents, subsequent MCU projects offered redemption for Hawkeye. “Avengers: Age of Ultron” delved into Clint Barton’s personal life, revealing that he had a secret family with whom he shared a deep bond. This revelation added layers to his character and his relationship with Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow, emphasizing that their connection was strictly platonic.
In “Age of Ultron,” Clint struggled to find his place on a team of superpowered individuals but ultimately accepted his role as an Avenger. The film also included self-aware moments that acknowledged the mishandling of his character in the previous installment. Clint’s resilience and determination in the face of danger were on full display, and it seemed like the film might take a tragic turn for his character, given Renner’s earlier dissatisfaction.
However, “Age of Ultron” surprised viewers by having Pietro/Quicksilver sacrifice himself to save Clint, keeping the character alive and well. This turn of events, along with the introduction of Hawkeye’s family, hinted at a promising future for the character in the MCU.
Jeremy Renner’s later appearances in the MCU, including a significant role in “Captain America: Civil War,” further solidified his connection to Hawkeye. Renner expressed increased satisfaction with the character, stating, “I don’t really want him to die now. I really got to explore him more, and there’s some cool ideas coming up. Really cool ideas.”
These “cool ideas” culminated in the Hawkeye Disney+ series, where Renner’s character played a central role alongside Hailee Steinfeld. The series provided further opportunities to explore Hawkeye’s character and showcased the growth and development that had occurred since his initial appearance in the MCU.
Jeremy Renner’s journey as Hawkeye in the MCU is a testament to the franchise’s ability to adapt and evolve characters over time, taking into account both fan feedback and actor input. From initial frustration to fulfillment, Renner’s portrayal of Hawkeye has become an integral part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, winning over audiences and leaving a lasting mark on the superhero landscape.