(Warning: if the following fan theory is true, then this article could theoretically contain SPOILERS for future movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Proceed with whatever level of caution your theoretical SPOILER-aversion suggests to you is wise...)
Of all Marvel's Cinematic Avengers, Clint "Hawkeye" Barton has arguably gone through the biggest shift in popular opinion. After all, he went from 'pretty much the only thing wrong with The Avengers, because mind control' to 'pretty much the best thing about Avengers: Age Of Ultron, because no mind control' in the space of just two movies. Indeed, when he's not being played with like a cheap hand puppet by a Norse god of mischief, there's really no beating Clint Barton and his archery-themed brand of snarky badassery — just like in the comics.
What, though, if Clint has been hiding a secret this whole time? Y'see, according to a new fan theory from intrepid Redditor IronedSandwich:
Hawkeye Might Just Have Been Spying On The Avengers All Along
Specifically, so the theory goes, he might just have been spying for Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. this whole time, with his loyalties always ultimately lying with everyone's favorite eye-patch wearer and his blue-suited compadres.
As IronedSandwich argues:
Hawkeye is Nick Fury's right-hand-man and he assigned Hawkeye to the Avengers so he could keep Fury posted on the Earth's Mightiest Heroes, if they try anything SHIELD wouldn't want or... slip off the grid.
Which certainly makes sense, especially considering that in the Ultimate Marvel universe (on which the Marvel Cinematic Universe is heavily based) Hawkeye is very much Fury's go-to guy for pretty much everything.
The big question now, though?
Why Would Hawkeye Be Spying For Fury?
Well, aside from the obvious fact that Nick Fury clearly doesn't trust too many people — presumably least of all the inherently untrustworthy Tony Stark — Hawkeye would also make the most sense from a purely military standpoint. As IronedSandwich puts it:
Hawkeye is the most sane avenger. Think about it. Iron Man is a carefree megalomaniac, Captain America is out-of-place as well as extremely left-wing, the Hulk is scared of his other self, Black Widow is a killing machine. These are not people you want to put together in a room without someone to keep them under control."
With Fury being both a pragmatic and deeply paranoid man, Hawkeye would seem both a sensible choice, and perhaps a necessary one.
What Evidence Is There Of Hawkeye Spying, Though?
Well, for one thing, Hawkeye being Fury's embedded agent would certainly explain how ol' Nick always seems to know where the Avengers are, even when they're burrowing themselves away at Barton's farm.
Similarly, Clint's suggestion regarding that same farm in Avengers: Age Of Ultron...
"Fury helped me set this up when I joined. He kept it off S.H.I.E.L.D.’s files; I’d like to keep it that way."
...would seem to suggest that the pair have a whole lot of history — and that Fury has a whole lot of potential leverage over Barton.
What Does That Mean For 'Captain America: Civil War,' Then?
After all, Hawkeye seems set to be firmly in Cap's camp — something that certainly fits with his general air of anti-authoritarian insouciance. Could that suggest that both he and Fury (and therefore, perhaps, parts of S.H.I.E.L.D.) are in fact on Cap's side? Or, alternatively, could Hawkeye be a double agent, sent by Fury — and Iron Man — to infiltrate Cap's team?
Perhaps though, it's also entirely possible that Fury has chosen to sit this one out, and that Clint simply doesn't want to have his identity (and thus quite possibly the location of his family) shared with too many government officials.
Either way (and whether it ever turns out to be true or not), it's an intriguing theory, and one that sure seems to make a lot of sense. Nicely played, IronedSandwich. Nicely played indeed...
What do you think, though?
Do you think Hawkeye has been spying for Nick Fury this whole time?