There has been a lot of clamoring going on ever since Jeremy Renner appeared in Marvel's Avengers as archer extraordinaire, Hawkeye, that the character has been woefully underused and under-appreciated by Marvel. The comic book version of Hawkeye is dynamic, charismatic and borders on the sensational - a stick of TNT wrapped in C4 encased in electricity waiting to jump-start any adventure. The ink and paper version of the character is significantly different from the celluloid version.
In the MCU, Hawkeye is a "back of the scenes" bit role coming forward just as a filler in the action. In the comics, Hawkeye was the kick-butt-and-why-do-they-even-have-names leader of the Avengers and of the Defenders. His wit and tactical expertise made him invaluable to whatever team he would take part.
The fit isn't there. And, I think, as much as I don't want to believe it, that the blame lies somewhere between the directors and the actor.
Michael Richards (who played Cosmo Kramer) was only supposed to serve a non-recurring role as the neighbor of Jerry Seinfeld on Seinfeld. We all know how that played out. He ended up in 172 episodes and was with the show when it ended. Had it continued, he would still be on it.
Going way back, Ken Curtis was only going to be on the old television series, Gunsmoke, for a couple of episodes while they were searching for a replacement for Dennis Weaver (who had been playing Matt Dillon's sidekick, Chester Goode). Curtis was so good at his role, they kept him and made him a deputy - something Chester never was.
George Wendt was cast "filler" for the pilot of Cheers. He had only one line: "Beer!" But, he was so much fun, they eventually kept the character, changed his name from George to Norm Peterson and kept him on the show.
B.J. Britt (who played Antoine Triplett) joined Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. midway through Season One and was supposed to die with Agent John Garrett (masterfully crafted by Bill Paxton) near the end of that season. But, once he joined the show (and the rest of the cast), there was no way Executive Producers Jed Whedon (Joss' brother) and his wife, Maurissa Tancharoen, was going to let him get away. He was that good. He "worked" his way into an extension.
Jeremy Renner hasn't been able to make that connection with the production teams. He hasn't convinced the camera to pan his way because he has something special to show it. He hasn't elbowed his way into the fore on a stage already occupied by the acting cream of his generation.
Heck, Anthony Mackie got more screen time as Falcon in Captain America: Winter Soldier than Jeremy has gotten in The Avengers and Thor combined!
Hawkeye's leadership role in the MCU keeps being overlayed by Captain America (who is portrayed by Chris Evans who originally portrayed the Human Torch in the Fantastic Four). And, who wouldn't stand down to Captain America? Cap is the ultimate leader who commands attention... and action.
And, Renner's character's "skills and agility" role are overshadowed by those of the Black Widow/Natasha Romanov (played by Scarlett Johanson). Cap holds his own there, too.
Renner hasn't "let go" and "gone for it". He's a "company man" who does as he's told and is dependable, agreeable and likeable behind the scenes, but he doesn't press his way forward and seize a scene when the camera is on him. He hasn't had that brazen moment where he can't be ignored.
And, "company man" would be the single adjectival phrase you could never have used for the comic book Hawkeye. He hated to be told what to do and he always ran to the front when there was confrontation. First in battle, first with an objection to the direction the team was taking and first with a comment on the situation - whether anyone wanted to hear it or not.
Maybe Jeremy just doesn't recognize when those opportunities are strolling by. Maybe he doesn't know how to create those opportunities out of the dust bunnies breezing playfully over the cables along the dark back walls. Or, maybe he is inhibited by the vibrant dynamism of the actors who are sharing the camera with him.
Whatever it is - he is not making a place for his character in the phenominal group that is the Avengers. And, his directors and producers don't appear to be tasking him with expanding the role of his character. He is the very exaggerated fifth wheel bumbling lethargically in the wake of the electric talents ahead of him. His purpose seems to be only to take up the slack when there isn't a place for any of the other stars.
It would not surprise me to discover that Renner is in danger of his character being discarded and having that "slot" in the Avengers taken over by another character to see if there might be some magic that could be created by another source. If he wanted to be proactive, Jeremy could approach Marvel with a few ideas for retooling his character with him still in the role.
He could join Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. He was, after all, a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent working with Coulson in New Mexico when S.H.I.E.L.D. discovered Thor's hammer, Mjolnir. Coulson could approach him with opportunities to help out and, eventually, spin him off onto his own ABC or Netflix series with opportunities to come back to the Big Screen when the need arose.
Bobbi Morse/Mockingbird (Adrianne Palicki) has already suggested that she would love to explore that relationship Mockingbird and Hawkeye had in the comics. And, who wouldn't want to ascend from television to a major moving picture! Well, let Jeremy and Adrianne test out their chemistry on the one-eyed brain-sucker. Spin them, for a while, on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. If it doesn't work, kill the character. If it does work, you have an opportunity to give both of them full-time work on their own series in a spin-off - say, "S.H.I.E.L.D. Avengers" or "S.H.I.E.L.D. - Advanced Ops" or something...
Black Widow is also a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, but I don't see Scarlett Johanson appearing on anything short of a blockbuster movie anytime in the near-to-moderate future. Still, moving Hawkeye to television would leave open the possibility of a movie that would include all three "agents" in a James Bond-esque movie adventure in the grand panoramas of Europe. Perhaps, as was suggested in another posting, Hawkeye could head up Marvel's Secret Avengers from his post as a S.H.I.E.L.D. operative.
Maybe, putting Renner into an environment that doesn't have all the expansive personalities that he's dealing with in the Avengers, he would step forward and produce a Hawkeye worthy of the Marvel experience. It certainly couldn't hurt.