As we get closer to the premiere of Avengers: Infinity War, which will bring the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe together for the first time, there is one Avenger on everyone's mind, and believe it or not, that superhero is the Avenging Archer himself, Hawkeye, played by Jeremy Renner.
But it's not that people are talking about anything he did. It's about what he didn't do: appear in any marketing material for highly anticipated Marvel movie.
Where is he? Is he even in this movie? Could they begin to close out the epic saga without one of the original Avengers? All this to say: What is Marvel hiding?
Hawkeye has tried to step out of the game before. At the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, we found out that he was leading a double life. By day, he was a superhero alongside his colleagues Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and by night, he was a family man to his son Cooper, daughter Lila, and wife Laura (Linda Cardellini), then pregnant with their third child, Nathaniel. He eventually hung up his bow and arrow in favor of daddy duty.
Of course, that didn't last long. Hawkeye returned in Captain America: Civil War to fight against Iron Man alongside Cap — but after they lost the battle, were imprisoned, and escaped from the Raft, Hawkeye returned to his comfortable, calm (relatively speaking) home life.
That's the last we saw of Hawkeye, even though Renner has been talking about being in the third Avengers flick since 2014. In 2016, he even went as far as saying that he was "pretty excited" about Hawkeye's upcoming story line, and confirmed that he'll also be in the to-be-titled Avengers 4, filmed at the same time as Infinity War and due to come out in 2019. Leaked set photos from October 2017 confirmed that Renner is, in fact, in the movies (or at least in one of the movies).
Further shrouding the mystery, directors Joe and Anthony Russo have been teasing Hawkeye's whereabouts in various interviews and on their own Facebook page, promising that they haven't forgotten "the twice-nominated Jeremy Renner." (The directing duo are of course referring to the actor's two Oscar nominations — the only Avenger to achieve such a feat, until Brie Larson officially joins the squad.)
Among the most illuminating explanations came from an interview with Collider. "The characters on Cap's side coming out of the Civil War, some made certain decisions and others made other decisions that led to different paths in them dealing with oversight in this movie in a different way. So Hawkeye's on his own journey in this movie," Joe said, while Anthony added that the hero "has a unique reaction to the civil war situation that puts him in a special spot in this film."
It is possible that his "own journey" involves being a loving father and husband — and that is worth being "pretty excited" about for some people — but that doesn't seem like something a Marvel movie would spend time following. Plus, I left out a crucial detail when I mentioned those set photos: Hawkeye was photographed looking not very Hawkeye-like in an all-black getup with gold details visible on his shins.
His outfit looks suspiciously similar to Marvel Comics' Ronin, the secret ninja identity characters take on after shedding their former selves — including Hawkeye when he joins the New Avengers in Brian Michael Bendis's celebrated run.
Now, those gold-detailed shin guards could have been Renner's personal fashion choice on the day that he was photographed — no one outside of the MCU knows! But knowing the cataclysmic battle in Civil War sent Hawkeye down his own path, maybe the reason Hawkeye is absent from the film's aggressive marketing campaign is that Hawkeye isn't actually in this movie, after all, having once again hung up his bow and arrow — only this time, he grabbed a sword. Of course his suspicious absence could also lead to the big-screen introduction of Kate Bishop, Clint's wise-cracking, plucky protégé who also goes by the name Hawkeye.
We'll have to wait and see until Avengers: Infinity War hits theaters this week.
- Alissa Schulman