Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye

Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye

By Jim Beard

He’s the greatest archer in the world, but he’s got an attitude and ego to match his talent. He’s Hawkeye, the Avenger with the arrows and the guts to take on any adversary, anywhere, anytime. Being a supreme marksman with no super powers means Clint Barton’s pushed himself to excel in other ways and when he really shines, he’s a leader and a winner without compare.

Hawkeye’s life has taken him down strange avenues of light and shadow and he’s stared death–real death–in the eye more times than he can put a notch in his quiver.

First Shot
An orphan and a young man ripe to follow the wrong person, Clint Barton fell in with an embezzler, the Swordsman, who, along with a master archer called Trickshot, trained him in many forms of marksmanship. Barton excelled in archery, but once his teacher’s criminal behavior came to light he parted ways with him and built the persona of Hawkeye, archer supreme.

As Hawkeye, the young man wanted to become a hero, but a misunderstanding on his first outing against crime soon placed him in cahoots with the Black Widow, a Russian spy, and in opposition to the invincible Iron Man. Eventually, he jumped on the straight-and-narrow path and his career as a super hero began.

Avengers: East and West
Pardoned for his crimes, Barton found himself invited to join the mighty Avengers with the sponsorship of Iron Man himself. Though argumentative and always butting heads with team leader Captain America, Hawkeye proved to be an indispensable and valuable asset to the team, fighting alongside them against menaces large and small. At one point, he even adopted the name and powers of Goliath to continue his Avenging, but once again took up the mantle of Hawkeye when a rift grew between him and his teammates.

After many solo adventures and even a brief stint with the Defenders, another super hero team, Hawkeye found his way back to the Avengers. That too proved to be short-lived as he entered into a long period of an on-again-off-again status with the famous team, always searching for his place in the grand scheme of things.

Two dividends of this time came in the form of the beautiful heroine Mockingbird, whom Barton eventually married, and Hawkeye’s founding of the first Avengers franchise, the West Coast Avengers. Based in Los Angeles, California, that team’s rocky tenure under Barton’s leadership continued until Mockingbird’s estrangement from her husband, her seeming death and the West Coast Avengers’ disbanding after the tragic events.

Death of an Archer
After a strange adventure on a parallel Earth, the original Avengers beckoned once more and Hawkeye buried himself in their missions until the chance to lead the Thunderbolts, a team of reformed super villains, presented itself. Barton even went so far as to take on a prison sentence to clear the former criminals’ names; once freed, the archer left the team and returned to the Avengers. There he stayed until Earth’s Mightiest Heroes shattered under the madness of the Scarlet Witch’s assault on their mansion and their lives. Hawkeye, injured in the battle, laid down his own life to save the others from an invading Kree warship, ending an incredible career.

But, a final resting place and a heroic death proved to not be in the cards for Hawkeye. The reality-warping powers of the Scarlet Witch brought him back to life, albeit at first with no memories of his own demise, and then to his costumed crusade as the Avengers’ battling bowman. One of the first events the resurrected Barton witnessed happened to be the murder of his old sparring partner and friend, Captain America.

New Face and Old Friends
Alongside the latest team of Avengers, the New Avengers, Barton set aside his guise of Hawkeye once more and adopted the persona of Ronin, a master of martial arts and weapons. During the Secret Invasion of the alien Skrull shape-shifters, Barton learned the shocking truth behind Mockingbird’s apparent death: She’d been replaced by a Skrull at the time and the real heroine had been held captive by the aliens all along. Reunited with Mockingbird, Barton stood helpless as his old Hawkeye identity became a tool for former Green Goblin Norman Osborn to use in his Dark Avengers.

Once leader of the New Avengers, Barton ultimately dispensed with his Ronin guise and went full-throttle against Osborn. Luckily, a time-lost Captain America reappeared and aided his fellow Avengers against Osborn and his Dark Avengers, a long battle that culminated in the mad man’s siege against the fabled home of the gods, Asgard.

Hawkeye Heroic Age
Once again wearing the costume and weapons of Hawkeye, Barton not only joined the new incarnation of the original Avengers team, but also joined Mockingbird on solo missions, trying to rebuild his relationship with her. He also learned of his oncoming blindness and had to deal with the return of his old mentor, Trickshot.

Currently, Hawkeye divides his time between his membership in the Avengers and his duties as the leader of the Secret Avengers.

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