By Will Henderson
With last Friday’s release of the Avengers: Endgame trailer, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) fans can breathe a sigh of relief. After sitting out Avengers: Infinity War, Hawkeye is back, just maybe a lot worse for wear than when we saw him in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War.
To recap, during the “Clash of the Avengers” (aka Civil War), Hawkeye fought alongside Iron Man before being imprisoned at the Raft. Eventually freed, Hawkeye retires from a life of avenging and spandex and heads home to his wife, Laura, and their three children.
What the Endgame trailer’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Hawkeye-as-Ronin moment makes clear is that not all is kosher in Clint’s world.
What could lead him to trade in his bow and arrow for a sword? No one knows – but let’s assume that the snap of Thanos (now known as Decimation, assuming last week’s Marvel’s Avengers Untitled Prelude is really in continuity with the MCU) wiped out Hawkeye’s family. That’s more than enough reason to hunt what appears in the trailer to be the Yakuza.
Thank Brian Michael Bendis for creating the events that led to Marvel’s comic universe Hawkeye to take on the Ronin identity. During Bendis’ Avengers: Disassembled storyline, a crazed Scarlet Witch kills Hawkeye. Then, during the subsequent House of M storyline (again, thanks Bendis), she resurrects him.
After the House of M reality is undone, Hawkeye wakes up in the Marvel Universe. But it’s not like the man formerly known as Hawkeye can just jump back in bow first. Clint searches for Doctor Strange, who helps Clint make peace with his past and decide what his future will hold, which, for a while, was a relationship with the Scarlet Witch, who had no memory of killing him and no mutant powers.
Clint leaves the Scarlet Witch and returns to the United States, where he learns of the assassination of Captain America and, subsequently, rejects Tony Stark’s offer to carry on Cap’s shield and legacy. But he’s not willing to just turn his back on fighting the good fight.
As Ronin, Clint joins the New Avengers team, made up of Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, Spider-Man, and a rotating cast of others, but rather than use a bow-and-arrow, Clint fought with swords and other weapons. At first, members of the New Avengers knew him only as Ronin, but he ultimately reveals himself to them, ultimately taking over leadership of the team.
Clint’s life as Ronin lasted several years (real time) and through several events, including Normon Osborne’s “Dark Reign” and “Siege.” Clint even re-romances soulmate Bobbi Morse (Mockingbird), who, though presumed dead, turned out to be very much alive during Bendis’ world-changing “Secret Invasion” storyline. (And if you’ve seen the Captain Marvel trailer, and want to know more about skrulls, I recommend picking up “Secret Invasion”).
Only during the Heroic Age in 2010 did Hawkeye put down his sword, pick up a bow-and-arrow, and trade in the name Ronin for Hawkeye, which he’s used ever since.
It’s unlikely that the MCU Ronin will have much in common with his MU counterpart, save a name and choice of weapons. But between now and the film’s release in April, we bet there will be lots of theories about the role Ronin will play in an attempt by the surviving Avengers to undo what seems, at least for now, to be an impossible event to undo.
But if Hawkeye’s own comic book history makes clear – even death can’t keep a good Avenger down.