Now, when Sony and Marvel recently announced that Spider-Man would - finally - be joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there was widespread rejoicing among fans of the MCU and comic-books alike. When it was more-or-less confirmed that he'd be making his first appearance in Captain America: Civil War, though, that rejoicing turned into actual, factual joy. After all, we assumed, that meant Spidey would be taking his traditional role within the Civil War story-line, meaning the movie could be just that little bit more faithful to its original source material.
What, though, if we were wrong?
What if, in actual fact, someone else has taken his original, comic-book role. Specifically:
Has Hawkeye Already Taken Spidey's Role in Civil War?
Yup, that's right - everyone's favorite archery-themed Avenger, Hawkeye, might just have already stolen away Spider-Man's iconic narrative arc from Civil War.
Specifically, that whole will they/won't they deal, where Tony Stark convinced Spider-Man to register as a superhero, and reveal his identity to the public...
...only for Spidey to realize that Tony was manipulating him, and switch over to Captain America's band of freedom-fighting rebels.
Which, we all assumed, was what we would now see on screen in Captain America: Civil War.
Except, in fact:
That Wouldn't Actually Make Much Sense in the Movie
After all, this is going to be Spider-Man's first appearance in the MCU, and he's not actually likely to get all that much screen-time, what with it technically being Captain America 3. So, dedicating a bunch of the plot to a character some of the audience don't know that well trying to decide which side to end up on? Possibly not as great an idea as it initially sounded.
As it happens, though:
Hawkeye is Perfectly Positioned to Replace Him
Now, that's partly because he hasn't, as of yet, had all that much to do in the MCU, and a solid dose of plot relevance wouldn't do him any harm whatsoever - and partly down to the fact that his continued presence in merchandising suggests Marvel has a lot of faith in the character's popularity with the key merch-buying demographic. And, of course, the recent revelation that Jeremy Renner, who plays the hero, is already set for a role in Civil War.
There's also, though, an even bigger reason why Hawkeye taking on Spider-Man's decision-making role makes sense:
Hawkeye Is the Only Established Hero with Split Loyalties
After all, on the one hand, he's a long-time S.H.I.E.L.D. operative, who is likely fiercely loyal to those who trained him, and, by extension, to the government - which suggests he would default to supporting Tony Stark's government forces.
On the other, though, he's obviously much closer to Black Widow - all but guaranteed to be on Cap's side - than he is to Tony, which could easily sway his decision. And, of course, there's the fact that:
He's Already Betrayed the Government to Help Cap
Way back in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, in a scene that was never actually shot due to scheduling conflicts, to be precise. As Joe Russo, the movie's co-director - describes it:
"What it was going to be, we were trying to complicate the relationship between Cap and his S.H.I.E.L.D agent friends. If Hawkeye got a call from S.H.I.E.L.D saying Captain America is a fugitive, would he listen to that call or not listen to that call? That sequence actually was heartbreaking for us to cut it. I think it ultimately might have been a conflict with Renner’s schedule. But there was a great sequence where Hawkeye was chasing Cap through Washington D.C. there was an awesome sequence where they confronted each other in a ravine on the outskirts of D.C. and Hawkeye was shooting a series of arrows closing in on Cap, Cap closing in on him. And then Cap took him down and he realized for the first time that Hawkeye was trying to trick S.H.I.E.L.D, where he whispered something into Cap’s ear that Cap had a tracker on his suit and to punch Hawkeye to make it look real, because there was a Quinjet hovering above where they were watching the feedback back at S.H.I.E.L.D."
So, in other words: we already know that, as far as the creative types behind the scenes of the MCU (and, crucially, Captain America: Civil War's directors) are concerned, Hawkeye thinks of himself as being on Cap's side, at least in part.
Hawkeye Would Make Way More Sense in Spider-Man's Traditional Role Than Spidey Would
After all, he's in the perfect position to be legitimately torn between his sense of duty to his country, and his own conscience. If Black Widow or Falcon were to take that role, we'd all know right from the get-go that they'd end up on Cap's side - and Spider-Man'll be too newly introduced to guarantee that the audience'll care (also likely true of Ant-Man, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver and the Vision).
So, if Captain America: Civil War does indeed opt to include Spider-Man's classic story-line - they may well have no choice but to go with Hawkeye.
Which, if you ask me, would be awesome.