For any movie fans who also enjoy a flash of man-candy every now and then, 2012’s [The Avengers](movie:9040) was a veritable tsunami of it. If you’d switched the plot from aliens attacking to New York to [Magic Mike](movie:203046), I wouldn’t have minded – in fact, some of it would have made more sense.
There’s also a truckload of awesome characters – well, a load of well-written men and then a couple of two-dimensional women – and people with superpowers whizzing around Manhattan in spandex. When you put it like that, it’s easy to see why the damn thing was so popular.
But there’s one character who hasn’t had nearly enough love. With under fifteen minutes of screen time, thanks to getting brainwashed in the first five minutes, Clint Barton spent the whole movie helping the enemy and was barely a sidekick in the final battle – I don’t think he was even introduced to the other Avengers. Fans haven’t ignored him – tumblr, at least, is full of Barton-appreciation – and [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](movie:293035) is rumored to bring him out of the periphery – so why should you hop on the Barton bandwagon and find a place in your heart for my favourite ex-carnie?
First of all, Hawkeye’s smart. In the opening scenes of The Avengers, he’s the first (out of a team of highly trained scientists, by the way) to figure out that the tesseract is a doorway to somewhere else. During the big ol' battle, he manages to work out the Chitauri’s movements and battle strategy, so that comrade-in-arms Iron Man can blast them out of the sky. He’s also probably the first archer in cinematic history to run out of arrows and have the common sense to collect the ones he already loosed.
He hasn’t got any superpowers. Literally, none. Imagine if Katniss Everdeen was from Iowa and loved purple. We love an underdog, and his ability to hold his own alongside an alien-deity, a super-soldier and The Hulk is unsurpassable.
In Marvel canon, Clint Barton is an orphan, raised in a traveling circus and trained to the highest standard by ‘Trick Shot’. None of this is mentioned in the movies, but a quick Google search gives you a headstart. He works for SHIELD as a secret agent, saving the world and beating up baddies – like a marginally more cheerful Wolverine. In The Avengers, we are treated to a glimpse of his badassery. He jumps off a building with no harness, knowing his own awesome archery skills will save him. And he looks cool doing it. He rolls around in broken glass without a scratch...possibly because it was a PG-13 movie and they couldn’t show blood. But also because he’s amazing! Maybe he doesn’t get bashed about as much as the others, but that’s because he has the sense to stay back from the action and fire explosive arrows at bad guys instead of running right up to get punched in the face by an angry alien.
He’s cute. Jeremy Renner is an Oscar-nominated regulation hottie. With a butt carved by the Angel Gabriel and a soul-piercing stare that makes him look miserable 24/7, it’s impossible to deny his attractiveness.
Black Widow is another character who’s had a tough ride in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – further cemented in [Captain America: The Winter Soldier](movie:254973), where her presumed storyline as a Cold War agent was demolished with a throwaway remark – but her relationship with Barton in The Avengers was a silver lining to her lackluster narrative. We’re suckers for buddy-movies, and a couple who are as admirable of each other as they are aroused by one another? Bingo. Admittedly, their dialogue is limited; they have a quick chat before going to kill some aliens, after Natasha gave him a concussion, but there’s enough chemistry there to make us go ‘squeeee!’
However, the most persuasive reason to love Hawkeye is that we haven’t seen the best of him yet. Since his first appearance in Tales of Suspense as Iron Man’s nemesis to his award-winning new solo adventures penned by Matt Fraction, Barton’s done the rounds. He’s married Mockingbird, dated Black Widow and even died. In some storylines, he’s even hearing-impaired, adding him to the small group of disabled comic book heroes – a group I hope increases for the sake of representation.
The Avengers shows but a taste of what Clint Barton is about. But what you do see is definitely worth appreciating.