The Avengers: Endgame trailer is finally here, and with it come more questions than answers. Chief among them: what happened to Hawkeye? Absent from Avengers: Infinity War, Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton finally reappears in the trailer for Endgame. But this isn’t the quipping, arrow-shooting Avenger we knew before. He’s first seen as a hooded figure with a sword, clearly having just won a violent confrontation, when he turns around and reveals himself to his former partner Black Widow.
Comic buffs immediately recognized his new identity as Ronin, a persona used by several characters (including Clint) in the Marvel comics. In the comic version of the Civil War storyline, Clint takes on the Ronin mantle when he rejoins the New Avengers after the Civil War, his Hawkeye persona having been tainted by a twisty time-travel-and-murder plotline. Clint continues his heroics as Ronin until reassuming the Hawkeye title as part of Steve Rogers’s new team of Avengers.
In the comics, Clint’s skills in the Ronin disguise — hand-to-hand combat and swordsmanship — were a tribute to the assassinated Steve, who had taught him those skills in the original days of the Avengers. We don’t know yet what has prompted the movie version of Clint to swap out his bow and arrows for swords and fists, but given the death toll in Infinity War, it’s entirely possible that he has a similar motivation here. His absence from Infinity War may also play a part in this new persona; after all, Hawkeye is the only Avenger to not participate in the battle and it’s possible he wants to leave behind an identity that he feels failed his friends and failed Earth.
Ronin was a darker and grittier character than Hawkeye, and while we don’t know much about his appearance in Endgame, it seems safe to say that a major change or loss has pushed Clint to this point. Whether it’s guilt over failing the Avengers or perhaps losing his family (the Bartons’ fates were unknown at the end of Infinity War, and the creators have been mum), Clint Barton is back but in a whole new way. We can’t wait to see how it unfolds on April 26, 2019.
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