Warning: Spoilers below — proceed at your own peril.
Avengers: Infinity War has long been shrouded in secrecy — even from its own stars. Fans will finally have some of the answers they crave beginning today, when the film arrives in theaters. And there’s one persistent question that has truly loomed large over the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Where’s Hawkeye?
The whereabouts of the ace Avengers marksman became a topic of debate late last year, when the film’s first trailer debuted, and the character — played by Jeremy Renner — was nowhere to be found. Follow-up promos also failed to provide a glimpse of the sharpshooting hero, and when the film unveiled its personality-overloaded theatrical poster, Hawkeye was conspicuously missing from the pack (and Renner was absent in the listed credits). That prompted intense social-media speculation, and then a #JusticeForHawkeye Twitter campaign, as well as a fan-made poster that made sure Renner’s team member got his representational due:
— BossLogic (@Bosslogic) March 17, 2018
Marvel provided a significant clue regarding Hawkeye’s status in January, via Avengers: Infinity War Prelude No. 1. That official tie-in comic revealed that, after being broken out of prison by Captain America in the aftermath of 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, Hawkeye (aka Clint Barton) retired from the Avengers, choosing instead to concentrate his time and attention on his wife (played by Linda Cardellini) and kids.
Now that Avengers: Infinity War is out, it appears he really has hung up his bow and arrow — for the moment. Early on in the new film, Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner, who missed Civil War while starting a new career as the Grandmaster’s favorite intergalactic gladiator, asks about their MIA mates. In response, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) informs him that both Clint and Scott (Lang, aka Ant-Man, played by Paul Rudd) cut their own deals with the government and are currently under house arrest. Ant-Man and the Wasp’s trailer confirms that Scott’s involvement with Cap led to an ankle bracelet and confinement at home, as well as forced him and Evangeline Lilly’s Hope van Dyne to go on the run — which might be why he sits out Infinity War. Clint, on the other hand, isn’t seen at all in Infinity War, although given Black Widow’s comment, one can assume that — in light of his legal troubles — he was content to let his former comrades battle for humanity’s survival against Josh Brolin’s Mad Titan, Thanos.
In a recent interview with Den of Geek, Infinity War screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely confirmed that we’ll see more of Renner’s character in next summer’s Avengers 4 than we do in Infinity War (which doesn’t feature him at all). And a January Instagram post from Renner, below. indicated that he had just completed work on the project, suggesting that he’ll be participating in the forthcoming sequel:
A post shared by Jeremy Renner (@renner4real) on Jan 3, 2018 at 1:55pm PST
There’s no hint yet as to what, precisely, will bring Hawkeye out of exile. Yet considering Thanos’s actions at the end of Marvel’s latest, it’s easy to surmise that Renner’s family man — like the rest of Earth’s population — may have suffered a very painful, personal loss and might thus want some revenge against the villain.
We won’t know for sure until 2019, but in the meantime, you can check out Avengers: Infinity War in theaters now.
Watch: How Avengers: Infinity War filmmakers went to insane extremes to protect film’s secrets:
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