In the wake of a crushing defeat at Thanos’ Infinity Stone-clad hands, the heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will face their greatest challenge yet in Avengers: Endgame. But, who is the greatest hero in the MCU? Over the next couple weeks, SYFY WIRE will be debating who deserves the title of The Most Important Avenger. Our next contender is Hawkeye. Yes, Hawkeye. Wait, stop — hear us out!
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Hawkeye isn’t the strongest Avenger. In fact, he’s probably the weakest member of the team. He’s a guy who is good with a bow and arrow, as he admits in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Even among the members of the team who don’t have superpowers, Hawkeye doesn’t stack up. Black Widow, the other founding Avenger without any special abilities, received intense training in the Red Room, making her a deadly and methodical super-spy. Clint Barton is just… a dude.
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And yet, that’s what makes Hawkeye so important to what the Avengers stand for. He’s the everyman. He’s the grounded family man who reminds the soldiers and literal gods what they’re fighting for. And, as the most normal member of the team, he might just be the bravest and most heroic among them.
Hawkeye is at his finest in Age of Ultron, where his normalcy grounds the Avengers while they’re busy squabbling over the right way to protect the world and accidentally unleashing a genocidal A.I. In a way, it’s understandable. At that point, the Avengers consist of a billionaire genius, a Norse god and future-king, a century-old war hero, a Soviet super-spy, and the Hulk. These are all big personalities with big powers, and although well-intentioned, it makes sense that they could forget the little guy. Luckily, there’s a little guy in the team, wielding his bow and arrow.
Credit: Marvel Studios
When the Avengers retreat to Clint’s domestic farmhouse, they’re shocked to see that he has a wife and kids (despite his heroics, Clint is also apparently a great husband and father, which is heroic in itself). His domestic life reveals a level of normalcy that the rest of them can’t fully comprehend, given their hectic lives, and it’s an important reminder of the team’s mission. Without people like Clint and his family, the Avengers would have nothing to protect, and nothing to Avenge.
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Hawkeye shines again later in Ultron, in his speech to Scarlet Witch.
“Are you up for this? Are you?” he asks Wanda. “Look, I just need to know because the city, i-i-it’s flying. Okay, look, the city is flying, we’re fighting an army of robots, and I have a bow and arrow. None of this makes sense. But I’m going out there because it’s my job, okay, and I can’t do my job and babysit. Doesn’t matter what you did or what you were, if you go out there, you fight, and you fight to kill. Staying here, you’re good, I’ll send your brother to come find you, but if you step out that door — You are an Avenger.”
It’s a perfect encapsulation of what it means to be an Avenger. In one paragraph, Hawkeye is protecting and consoling a civilian, inspiring a new hero, admitting his own fears, and moving past them. He’s determined, but he’s relatable.
Hawkeye may be the Avenger’s punchline (and his Endgame grief-tattoo doesn’t help), but he is the most important Avenger because he represents the most important part of being a superhuman — being human.