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How Hawkeye Could Factor Into The Future Of The MCU

When Jeremy Renner joined the MCU ahead of production on 2011's "Thor" — where he appeared briefly as a sharp-shooting S.H.I.E.L.D. agent — it was seen as a coup for the studio. Renner was coming off an Oscar nomination for his lead role in the 2009 Best Picture winner "The Hurt Locker," but it would be a few years before the actor would get much to do in the role as Marvel's premiere archer.

Famously frustrated by his villainous supporting role in his first major appearance — the 2012 team-up "The Avengers" — Renner has since settled into the part, especially after Barton was given more to work with in its sequels. He played a key part in "Age of Ultron," where we first met his wife and family and he became an early mentor to Wanda Maximoff, and in "Captain America: Civil War" he had a memorable team-up with Paul Rudd's Ant-Man. Clint Barton would take center stage in the biggest MCU film of them all, "Avengers: Endgame," and many — including Renner himself — must have wondered if that might be his swan song. But then Disney and Marvel announced that he would star in his own "Hawkeye" streaming series, which debuted on Disney+ in November 2021.

Producer Trinh Tran has already said that the series may not mark the end for Hawkeye, teasing a future beyond the season finale for Renner's Clint Barton. But how exactly could he factor in to a post-"Endgame" MCU? Keep reading to find out.

More seasons of Hawkeye on Disney+

Let's start with the obvious one here. With the first season of "Hawkeye" a big hit with fans and critics alike, it's easy to imagine that Marvel may not stop with just one. "There are always new stories to be told, especially with Clint Barton. There is so much more to explore," said Marvel producer Trinh Tran when asked about Hawkeye's future. We agree, and more adventures for Hawkeye in his own series seems like the most obvious and easiest route for them to take in terms of Barton's way forward in the MCU. 

Whether further seasons of his own series include — or even focus on — Kate Bishop, Barton is a character with such a rich backstory, both in the comics and in the MCU, that any number of new adventures could be dreamed up for the pair of archers. Season 1 opens with a brief look back to his bloody tenure as Ronin, so further stories could tie back to his past with S.H.I.E.L.D. Of course, more seasons on Disney+ could be nixed should Marvel have other plans for Barton, such as seeing him return to the Avengers — or leading a new team on the big screen.

Leader of the next Avengers team

With "Avengers: Endgame" seeing the deaths of Tony Stark and Black Widow and the loss of Steve Rogers, it's anyone's guess what the next team of Avengers might look like. It's possible that, as in the comics, we could see more than one Avengers outfit, with Anthony Mackie's new Captain America leading a team in New York, and Clint Barton leading a B-Squad on the West Coast. With Hawkeye atop the roster, a team of Wanda and the Vision, She-Hulk, Ant-Man and others could make sense, whether it's a movie or a TV miniseries. The West Coast Avengers have a long legacy in the comics, and it would be a shame if the group never made their way to the MCU.

At the same time, many have pointed out how Marvel Studios seems to be heading toward the introduction of the Young Avengers, with Speed, Wiccan, Patriot, Kate Bishop, Cassie Lang, and even the potential for Iron Lad (a young variant of Kang) all having been introduced over the past year or two across movies and TV series. Who better to act as a guide to an inexperienced team than Bishop's mentor, Clint Barton? Whether it more closely hews to the roster from the comic books, or incorporates other young heroes like Spider-Man or Ms. Marvel, the idea of Hawkeye leading a team of new young Avengers might be too tempting an idea to pass up.

A supporting role in Echo

The mute Native American character of Echo was created by David Mack and Brian Michael Bendis in 2003 as an adversary to Daredevil, and his mirror opposite of sorts — a skilled martial artist who also happens to be deaf, a counter to Matt Murdock's blindness. Echo is Maya Lopez, the daughter of a New York City crook who was killed by the Kingpin — who took in the younger Lopez and raised her as his own, and not just as a daughter, but as a fearsome killer as well. Introduced in the closing moments of the second episode of the "Hawkeye" series on Disney+, Echo will be getting her own spinoff series in 2023 on the streaming service.

It's early so we have no way of knowing what direction the "Echo" series might take, but a supporting role for Hawkeye in her series would seem to make sense at least for now. There's been unsubstantiated talk online that "Echo" may serve as an unofficial fourth season for "Daredevil," bringing Matt Murdock and his supporting cast into the MCU. Given Echo's comic book origins, that might make sense, but so does including Clint Barton as a major player in "Echo." That may even put both the red and purple Marvel heroes on a collision course, which creates possibilities of its own.

A Daredevil team-up

When he became Ronin during the period leading up to "Endgame," Hawkeye went from globe-trotting, alien-stomping superhero to street-level vigilante. And with the "Hawkeye" series set on the streets of New York City, involving the underworld criminal element, it could just be a matter of time before he bumps into the Man Without Fear. We've already seen Echo — a character with close ties to Daredevil in the comics — and rumors have been swirling for months that Kingpin could appear in "Hawkeye" and that Charlie Cox may be reprising his role as Matt Murdock in "Spider-Man: No Way Home." Whether those rumors are true or not though, it's clear that an eventual appearance by Daredevil in the MCU is inevitable. So why not right here, right now? 

Charlie Cox or not, now or later, teaming up these two top-flight fighters would be a great way of helping to introduce a new Daredevil into the MCU and firmly entrench him into the cinematic universe, unlike his own Netflix series that seemed to distance itself, with few direct connections to the MCU. Perhaps during the events of "Infinity War" Daredevil was blinked out of existence, and without his nemesis to stop him, Kingpin ran amok — only to be thwarted by Ronin. With Daredevil back in town, and Hawkeye in the crosshairs of NYC mafias, the two heroes could join forces to take down Kingpin once and for all, perhaps leading to a friendship that could see Murdock join a future Avengers team alongside Barton.

Leader of the Thunderbolts

In Marvel Comics, The Thunderbolts are a team of villains who turn hero and become a supergroup — led by Baron Zemo – in the absence of the Avengers and Fantastic Four, who were trapped in a pocket dimension during the "Onslaught" event. Using the opportunity to gain the public's trust, Zemo and the likes of the Beetle, Moonstone, the Fixer, and others, become apparent champions of justice, with each villain taking on a new identity. But Zemo — now called Citizen V — plans to use their newfound standing as heroes to gain supreme power. Eventually, the rest of the team enjoys their new life as superheroes and stops Zemo, and in the wake of the betrayal looks for a new leader. They find it in Hawkeye, who in the comics was once a villain himself, and Barton turns them from a loose collection of former villains into a heroic super-team in their own right, battling everyone from the Masters of Evil to Mephisto.

We've seen hints already in the MCU that a version of the Thunderbolts may be assembled, with Julia Louis-Dreyfuss' Contessa Allegra De Fontaine recruiting the likes of John Walker and Yelena Belova for some kind of team. If this is the MCU's answer to the Thunderbolts, it could very well be leading to a story where the team becomes heroes in disguise. If they follow the comic book storyline, they may ultimately give up their villainous ways and cede leadership to Clint Barton.

Joining the World Counter Intelligence Agency

Before he retired as a world-saving Avenger, Clint Barton spent most of his career as a super-spy for S.H.I.E.L.D. alongside Natasha Romanoff and Nick Fury. We have yet to see much of that part of his life, with the exception of a very brief flashback in "Black Widow," but if Barton is to resume his life as a hero full time, why not return to his super-spy ways? As a retired Avenger, Barton seems eager to put field duty behind him, so perhaps it makes sense for him to become a more Nick Fury-like administrator or leader, and in Marvel Comics, he was a part of a government service branch called the World Counter-Terrorism Agency, alongside his comic book lover Bobbi Morse, aka Mockingbird.

Though we have yet to see this agency in the MCU, it could already exist now that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been dismantled and S.W.O.R.D. seems focused on larger priorities. While those departments help thwart supervillain attacks, Earth still needs a global anti-terrorism unit, and there's few better than Hawkeye to serve such a group in the MCU. His experience with S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers would surely make him a top target if they were looking for a new director, and Morse — who we saw on "Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D." — would also be a prime target, and give fans a chance to see the comic book couple finally paired up, even if just as a professional partnership, onscreen.

World War Hulk

Rumors have been going around that Mark Ruffalo's Hulk is about to embark on a journey of his own, barreling towards the celebrated comics storyline "World War Hulk." The comic book event saw the Hulk — having been banished to space by Marvel's greatest heroes — return to Earth on a rampage looking for revenge. Though the precursor to that storyline, "Planet Hulk," was loosely adapted as part of "Thor: Ragnarok," some fans are salivating over the thought of the Hulk becoming a villain. 

After becoming the so-called Smart Hulk in "Avenger: Endgame" we've already seen Ruffalo teased as becoming fully human once more in the upcoming "She-Hulk." If "World War Hulk" does indeed make its way to the MCU, there's an intriguing story element that could be lifted from the pages of "Civil War II" that would give Hawkeye a key role. In that event series, Banner entrusted Clint Barton with a specially created arrow that could kill him should he turn into the Hulk again. So who better than Jeremy Renner's archer to stop the rampaging Hulk in a "World War Hulk" adaptation? Within the confines of the MCU's mythology, Banner and Barton are the two men closest to Natasha Romanoff (in different ways), giving them a special and unique kinship, so it might make sense for Banner to place his trust in Barton.

Secret empire, Hydra hunter

When we first met Clint Barton onscreen, he was little more than a highly skilled but otherwise ordinary S.H.I.E.L.D. field agent. It's never said if he ever officially resigned from the agency upon joining the Avengers before "Age of Ultron," but in the wake of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," S.H.I.E.L.D. is brought down for good, having been taken over by the villainous HYDRA. With many friends and colleagues surely counted among the ranks of S.H.I.E.L.D. it's curious that we have yet to see any real fallout from that story for Barton himself. One possible future storyline for Hawkeye could see Nick Fury recruiting Barton to help lead a fight against a re-emerged Hydra, perhaps in the aftermath of "Secret Invasion" that could see their return.

This potential storyline would mirror the Marvel Comics "Secret Empire" event, during which Hydra used a brainwashed Captain America to take over the United States, and most superheroes were captured and imprisoned. An MCU version of this story might already be underway without us even realizing it, as Contessa Allegra de Fontaine's recruits — whose ranks include super-spies and super-soldiers — might just be capable of enacting such a plan. If Renner wants a bigger, meatier role for Barton moving forward, leading the remnants of the superhero community against a HYDRA takeover of the United States would be one thrilling route to take.

Guardian of the Scarlet Witch

Scarlet Witch's ongoing troubles in the MCU are only going to get bigger, and Marvel just might want to consider bringing Clint Barton into the story. From "WandaVision" to "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," we know that Wanda Maximoff has become the Scarlet Witch, one of the most powerful magic beings in existence. It's clear that the Scarlet Witch will play a role in the "Doctor Strange" sequel, but we still don't know exactly what form that will take, what will occur, or in what shape Wanda will be when it's all said and done.

But should Wanda recover from her "Multiverse" ordeal, she might need some help from a respected ally, and that's where Hawkeye comes in. When we first met Wanda in "Avengers: Age of Ultron," it was Hawkeye who helped motivate her to join the Avengers in battle, and Clint even named his son after her brother Pietro. In "Captain America: Civil War" it became clear that there was a real bond between them, with Wanda seemingly viewing Clint as a parental figure of sorts. Growing that dynamic by having Hawkeye act as a guardian for Wanda as she rebuilds her life would strengthen the existing relationship, and it's that kind of continued growth that makes the MCU's ongoing story so special. 

Old Man Hawkeye

In the comic book miniseries "Old Man Logan" we meet many older versions of classic Marvel heroes, and that includes an appearance from what has since been dubbed "Old Man Hawkeye." In the story, set some decades hence, Clint Barton is old and blind but still manages to help an aging Wolverine in his quest. While doing the rounds to promote the release of the "Hawkeye" series on Disney+, Renner was asked about his future as Clint Barton and the possibility of playing Old Man Hawkeye in the MCU. Renner seemed positive about the idea, saying "Yeah, I love it. Old Man Hawkeye. Yeah, I hope I'm a super joyful Hawkeye. If I'm that old, I hope I just forget all the bad things that happen in life, and he's just happy. He's happy Hawkeye." 

While the original comic storyline was loosely adapted into the acclaimed 2017 film "Logan" by James Mangold, Fox's ownership of the X-Men franchise meant Hawkeye was nowhere to be found in that film, much to the disappointment of fans. But now that the "X-Men" appear to be headed to the MCU, there may yet be an opportunity for a more faithful adaptation that could include Renner as Old Man Hawkeye, as well as others, such as Hulk, Kingpin, and Red Skull. Whether they would adapt it sooner or wait for the actors to age into their "old man" counterparts is anyone's guess, but no doubt fans would line up to see Wolverine and Hawkeye teaming up.

Partners with Ant-Man

During an interview with The Playlist, "Hawkeye" director Rhy Thomas talked about some of the original ideas for the streaming series. When asked whether they'd had any ideas that didn't make the cut, he was quick to answer, "Ant-Man. Paul [Rudd] and Jeremy's dynamic together I enjoy. I enjoyed their press tour dynamic when they were on the 'Avengers' run. So [Ant-Man] was a character that felt like a fun way to play at the absurdity of Clint's situation ... but I did get to have a little nod to that." 

And it was more than their real-life chemistry, as we saw Hawkeye and Ant-Man team up in "Captain America: Civil War" with Barton retrieving Paul Rudd's Scott Lang for their mission to stop Baron Zemo — even using their powers together to recreate an iconic Marvel moment – before coming together to travel through time and eventually battle Thanos together. There's no denying that the pair might have a genuinely fun dynamic, with the possibility of Rudd's happy-go-lucky, carefree nature juxtaposing hilariously against Barton's jaded world-weariness leaving us begging for a bigger onscreen partnership.