I was considering putting a spoiler warning in here, but, to be honest, it's 'Age of Ultron.' It came out ages ago. Shame on you if you haven't been beholding of its thrilling awesomeness!
When I think back to the first, and not only time, I saw Age of Ultron, I have to admit I was well and truly swept along on the tide of the famous Hawkeye red herring - will he die in the movie? What if they'll make him perish to make space for Quicksilver's addition to the Avengers?
Well, obviously they didn't. It was Quicksilver who paid the price for Hawkeye not seeing the hail of bullets from the Ultron piloted Quinjet coming, and sprinted in to act as a muscular shield to protect Barton and the carefully placed plot device that was the kid from certain* death.
So after feeling the strange pangs of relief over one of my favorite Avengers not perishing in Sokovia, and led to Barton hanging up his bow and quiver and settling down to a life spent building patios, it obviously made my mind jump to the family Barton and their inclusion in AoU. Why were they included? What effect on the narrative of the movie and the future of the MCU would they have.
That's why after the now pretty obvious red herring, I think that Hawkeye's family may end up being a catalyst for Civil War. Bare with me...
Death in the Family
In the Civil War graphic novel, the superhero registration act is kickstarted after a devastating incident involving super-people, following public disenchantment over certain superheroes' prior acts. One involving the Hulk saw him kill 26 people in Las Vegas.
The straw that broke the camel's back was an incident that saw villain Nitro level several city blocks. Being pursued by the New Warriors, a group of young heroes, for a reality TV series, Nitro and his team of villains went into battle with the Warriors.
Nitro was forced to use his incredibly powerful abilities and created an explosion so big, it decimated 600 people - 60 of them being children from a nearby elementary school. This forced the Government to push through the Superhero Registration Act, and the rest is Earth-616 history.
The Family Barton
The inclusion of the Barton's surely must be more than a narrative device to offer Hawkeye more character development, or give the viewer a breather from action. Each of the Avengers had their moments searching the recesses of their memories, thanks to a wild Scarlet Witch. Each of those well crafted moments offering us a peek into their most private memories.
But, in what could be a cruel yet fitting move, what if Clint and Laura Barton's children were to die in some terrible incident that drew from the source material. Imagine the family were visiting New York and - boom - cataclysm strikes, forever changing the face of the world and their protectors. Or something along those lines.
An even redder herring! That f**ker would be Daredevil crimson, if that's how Marvel Studios chose to play. This event would bring the Avengers together in mourning, and lead to more heated discussion between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers, who will be the figureheads on both opposing sides.
Is It Viable?
I think it's a solid idea ("of course you would," some of you may say), because the MCU has begun to take a bit of a darker turn of late. And considering how horrible Thanos is, expect the movies to get even darker.
Though saying that, we know that Marvel Studios is keen on refraining from introducing characters on a whim, for fear of confusing the audience. So we may not be seeing Nitro and the New Warriors appear, unless they all die during the movie's prologue.
So what could the cataclysms that may spur the creation of the Superhero Registration Act be?
They will more than likely be born out of the repercussions of Sokovia and Hulk's destructive spree in Africa, the dissolving of S.H.I.E.L.D. (the organization tasked with keeping an eye on supers), and the alien invasions of Thor: The Dark World and The Avengers.
The world was watching as Ultron, the act of Starkian hubris, nearly caused a global extinction event by crashing the capital of Sokovia back into the earth. And the Avengers just about managed to deal with the problem, while creating a bunch more during the process.
You could argue that the family Barton were included to add a sense of grounding to the movie, because a man fighting a hoard of cyborgs with a bow and arrow may be a tad too farfetched.
Perhaps they were there to raise the stakes that little bit more - this is what humanity is (read: should be) about: peace, love, hard work and understanding. And if those integral parts of the human condition are eradicated, then what is worth fighting for?
Or, in a feat of humanizing an underused character, in one stroke Whedon manages to make him the one with the most to lose, and the most to gain from a peaceful world. Brilliant actually.
What do you think?
*Nobody truly dies in the comics! Tahiti is a magical place, right?