Now, there aren't too many things about 2012's The Avengers that are anything but awesome - it is, after all, a movie featuring a bunch of Marvel's mightiest heroes beating the snot out of things - but if there's one criticism that could, in fact, be leveled against it, it's this: It really didn't get Hawkeye.
It's not a new complaint - fans have been registering their annoyance with Hawkeye's role and characterization within the movie (brain-washed pawn and 'guy who knows Black Widow' respectively) for years now - but with the imminent arrival of Avengers: Age of Ultron drawing ever closer, it seems like a natural time to take a closer look at just why Hawkeye - a.k.a. Clint Barton - is such a beloved figure among comic-book fans. Here, then, are:
The 12 Most Bad-Ass Things Hawkeye's Ever Done
With, of course, an accompanying look at whether or not we'll see any sign of them in Age of Ultron - which will, you'd have to imagine, set out a far more awesome, comic-book-faithful version of the archer.
First up, then:
12. He Was the First Real Bad-Guy Turned Avenger
That's right - Hawkeye was originally not a hero at all, but a seriously mis-led young man, tricked into villainy by none other than The Black Widow, back when she was a Soviet spy. Soon enough - though not before he'd fought Iron Man a handful of times - he found his feet as a crime-fighter, and was invited to join the first reshuffling of the Avengers line-up, back in Avengers #16.
Will we see it in Avengers: Age of Ultron? Nope - because we kind of already did back in The Avengers, with that whole 'mind-wipe' deal.
Speaking of the Black Widow:
11. He's the Taylor Swift of Comic-Books
As in, all of his relationships end in fascinatingly catastrophic fashion - but always lead to a good story or three. Over the years, Hawkeye became a Soviet spy because the Black Widow seemed to like him, left the Avengers because the Scarlet Witch didn't return his affections, had the world's most dysfunctional marriage with Mockingbird, and then managed to repeatedly screw-up dating Spider-Woman. All of which was fantastic to read about...
Will we see it in Avengers: Age of Ultron? Remember those rumors of a Hulk/Hawkeye/Black Widow love triangle? Done, done and done.
It might, though, have something to do with the fact that:
10. He's Seriously Good at What He Does...
Specifically, being the world's greatest archer - the movies haven't yet really captured just how awesome it is to watch Hawkeye disarm a room in the most unexpected way possible, all the while throwing out equally sharp quips.
Will we see it in Avengers: Age of Ultron? Short answer? Yes. Long answer? Hells yes.
Of course, that's:
9. ...Just So Long as That Isn't Actual Fighting
Y'see, for all that "Hawkeye's the world's greatest archer," he's also distinctly lacking in any other actual superpowers - something that has, over the years, led to him being bumped from the Avengers for often vague and arbitrary reasons, as well as being horribly injured on a bunch of occasions. Most memorable of them all? Matt Fraction's recent arc in which Clint was thrown off a building...almost every issue.
Will we see it in Avengers: Age of Ultron? Well, he'll be going up against giant killer robots...so probably.
On the plus side, though:
8. He Has a Kick-Ass Sidekick
It took almost fifty years, but Hawkeye has, in the past year-or-so, finally gotten his crap together enough to actually find himself a sidekick - and all it took was him dying, and a tough-as-nails socialite (and Young Avenger) named Kate Bishop took up the mantle. When he inevitably returned to life, she became (in Matt Fraction's recent Hawkeye solo series) his half-protegee/half verbal sparring-partner, and it was consistently one of the best things in comic-dom.
Will we see it in Avengers: Age of Ultron? Almost certainly not - though if Hawkeye ever manages to get his own solo spin-off movie (or get himself killed), Kate Bishop'd make for an excellent addition to the cinematic universe.
Speaking of getting himself killed:
7. He's Died a Bunch of Times...and Been Resurrected
One of the biggest down-sides to Hawkeye's complete lack of actual powers is that he's died a whole bunch of times - on one occasion even being completely wiped from existence by a semi-real child of The Scarlet Witch, back when she accidentally changed the whole of reality (it was a weird story-line). Every time, though, he's made it back to life eventually - and has actually seemed to have matured a fair bit along the way.
Will we see it in Avengers: Age of Ultron? Well, the resurrection part, probably not - but despite his apparent appearance in Captain America: Civil War, those death rumors just won't go away...
His resurrections have also, however, led to the fact that:
6. He's Not Always Been Hawkeye
Over the years, Clint's taken on a number of other identities, including briefly taking over as the Avenger's size-changing Avenger as Goliath, and a spell as the more solitary Ronin. For a very brief spell after Civil War, he was even Captain America - though since he'd been manipulated into it by Tony Stark, it didn't take too long for him to realize that it was a bad call...
Will we see it in Avengers: Age of Ultron? Odds are that...no, no we won't. For one thing, there's likely no reason for him to...
Meanwhile, in a surprising twist:
5. He's Actually Led the Avengers
I mean, sure, it was technically the West Coast Avengers (and, more recently, the Secret Avengers), but even so - Hawkeye's proved himself to be a capable leader on a number of occasions. Even if it does tend to not really stick...
Will we see it in Avengers: Age of Ultron? While Cap and Iron Man are around? Not a chance...
4. He's the Comic Relief
It might seem a little odd to anyone who only knows him from the movies - in which Tony Stark has very much taken the role of lovable goofball all for himself, but in the comics, Hawkeye is one of the pre-eminent sources of snarky comic-relief in the Marvel Universe - right up there with the likes of the Human Torch, Iceman and Spidey...
Will we see it in Avengers: Age of Ultron? Well, Tony'll still get all the best lines - but here's hoping...
Also, on that note:
3. He Has Another Kick-Ass Sidekick
Now, sure, it's a dog - but in a comic-book world where there is an actual Norse Frog of Thunder, Hawkeye's pet dog Lucky is about as awesome a superhero pet as they come. Plus, he once got his own issue of Hawkeye's solo comic, in which the whole thing was told through his eyes (and understanding of human language). Which was awesome.
Will we see it in Avengers: Age of Ultron? Nope. Life isn't that fair.
Accompanying Lucky, though:
2. He Has a Code
It might not be the inflexible decency of Captain America, or the desperation to change the world for the better of Iron Man, but in many ways Clint's approach to super-heroism is simpler, and more human: He just wants to do the right thing. He may screw up pretty frequently, but all through his hero-ing career he's never stopped trying to stick up for the little guy - something that can't be said of a whole lot of other, more famous heroes.
Will we see it in Avengers: Age of Ultron? With a little luck, yes - though I'm not holding my breath.
And, finally, as an extension of that:
1. He's Always Been One of Us
Having been orphaned as a little kid, and then run away to literally join the circus, Hawkguy's had it tougher than most superheroes - and with his relatively low status (and lack of an actual job), had a life a whole lot more like the rest of us than, say, Iron Man. Sure, we may not have all become crime-fighting archers, but his constant romantic-misadventures, snark and screw-ups, all combined with just trying to do the right thing, inevitably strike a chord with many. He's one of us - and that's just the way he'd want it.
Will we see it in Avengers: Age of Ultron? Y'know what? It's Joss Whedon, so we just might...