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Hawkeye's Entire Timeline In The MCU Explained

Clint Barton aka Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) occupies a strange position in the MCU. He was one of the OG Avengers that helped make the franchise what it is today. But he was never a main character with his own movie, and many fans question the need for a dude with a bow and arrow on a team that included the likes of the literal God of Thunder, a reality-warping witch, and a super soldier.

But despite his detractors, Hawkeye has played an important role within the MCU, and made using a bow and arrow in gun fights look badass instead of dumb. As many fans have pointed out, the Avengers won during the times when Clint was on the team. The two times he tried to retire, first the Avengers broke up over the Sokovia Accords and later were defeated by Thanos when he snapped half of all life away. 

So here is a celebration of the life and times of Clint Barton, and the work Hawkeye has put into the MCU. After more than a decade of being a supporting player, he now has his own Disney+ series. Let's take a look at the events that led up to this moment, and where the master archer might go next. (Warning: Spoilers ahead)   

Joining SHIELD

Baby Clint was born in Iowa to one Edith Barton. A headstrong lad, he dropped out of high school, preferring to spend his time working on his exceptional marksmanship. Clint was especially adept at working with a bow and arrow. He also learned to use a sword under the guidance of Jacques "Jack" Duquesne, an expert swordsman.

After maturing into adulthood, Clint met a woman named Laura (Linda Cardellini), and married her. It was around that time that Clint's skills with weaponry of all kinds drew the attention of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), who personally hand-picked him to be a part of SHIELD (The Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division). 

Clint soon developed a reputation as one of SHIELD's most skilled operatives, and one of Fury's most trusted men. When Clint and Laura decided to start a family, Fury helped keep their personal data out of SHIELD's files, and also found a farmhouse for the couple in Missouri to raise their children away from the eyes of their enemies.

Near-death experience

During his early years in SHIELD, Clint did not have to deal with any aliens or magicians or extra-dimensional threats. But his work was still fraught with danger. After becoming known as one of SHIELD's most dangerous agents, the increasingly infamous archer found himself in the crosshairs of the many international criminal organizations that SHIELD was in the business of stopping.

One of the criminal organizations hired a man called Marcus Scarlotti (Falk Hentschel), an assassin and one of the most dangerous men in the world. Much like Hawkeye, Scarlotti had an affinity for an unusual weapon: A rope dart that he used to attack opponents from across long distances during combat.

The details of Clint and Scarlotti's battle have remained mostly a mystery. But we do know that Scarlotti came closer to killing Clint than any other opponent had before, as mentioned in "Agents of SHIELD" (2013-2020). Clint himself was also unable to take down Scarlotti, and the master assassin continued to operate from the shadows. Scarlotti later founded an entire team of mercenaries who continued to tangle with SHIELD on occasion.

Recruiting Black Widow

After becoming one of SHIELD's top agents, Hawkeye was assigned increasingly complex missions of an international nature. One such mission would prove to be a turning point for Hawkeye and the future team of Avengers as a whole. Clint was assigned the task of locating and eliminating a dangerous new Russian assassin called Black Widow, who was stated to be a threat to global peace.

Clint managed to track down Black Widow in Russia, where she turned out to be one Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson). During their interactions Clint realized that there was a potential for good in Natasha, who had been forced to become Black Widow — along with a bunch of other kidnapped women — by a clandestine Russian program called "Red Room." Instead of killing her, Clint offered Natasha the chance to defect from Russia and become a SHIELD operative. Natasha accepted the deal, and she and Clint teamed up to put an end to the Red Room once and for all. 

To that end, they tracked down Dreykov (Ray Winstone), the leader of the Red Room, to a secret location in Budapest. Natasha and Clint arranged to bomb the building Dreykov was operating from. As a result special forces got after Clint and Natasha, forcing them to engage in a brutal firefight before hiding out for 10 days in the ceiling of a subway station. With Dreykov apparently dead, Natasha officially joined SHIELD and became Clint's partner on many new missions, and his close friend.

Watching over an enchanted hammer

Years later, Clint was instructed by Nick Fury to go down to New Mexico to help with the investigation of a strange new object that was of special interest to SHIELD. Arriving at the site in 2011's "Thor," Clint was joined by Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), and put in charge of watching over the facility which housed the object, a hammer-shaped construct that no one seemed to be able to lift

Although Clint was told to use a gun, he opted to have his trusty compound bow at his side instead as he watched over the facility while being suspended from a crane. From that position, Clint watched an unknown blond, hulking man tear through the guards protecting the facility and make his way to where the hammer was located. Clint had the intruder in his bow's crosshairs, but Coulson ordered him to wait so they could see what the blonde stranger, later revealed to be Thor Odinson (Chris Hemsworth), would do with the hammer. 

Clint was witness to Thor's initial failure to lift the hammer. He also saw Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) leaving the facility, and allowed them to leave so Thor and Jane could be secretly tracked. Later, Clint witnessed Thor regain his power and battle the Destroyer sent by Loki. After Thor won, Clint helped transport the body of the Destroyer to a secret SHIELD facility.

Project PEGASUS

Thanks to working for SHIELD, Clint found himself dealing with increasingly bizarre and extraterrestrial problems that his previous training and missions had not prepared him for. After the events of New Mexico, Hawkeye was tasked with breaking into SHIELD's Helicarrier as a means of testing the giant machine's defenses. Upon breaking through the last level of security, Clint obtained secret files pertaining to something called "The Avengers Initiative."  

Soon afterward, Clint was put in charge of the security detail for Project PEGASUS, a team founded to explore the nature of the Tesseract that had been previously used during the Kree-Skrull war in the 1980s, as seen in 2019's "Captain Marvel." Fury brought in Thor's friend Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) to examine the Tesseract. Clint did a background check on Selvig and his team to make sure they were clean, and they discussed what they knew about the Tesseract's alien origin.

As shown in 2012's "The Avengers," Clint saw the Tesseract as a doorway through space. He reasoned that a doorway can be opened from both sides. That was when the Tesseract started acting up, and Clint and his security team were caught unawares by the arrival of Loki (Tom Hiddleston). In the ensuing battle, Clint managed to save Fury's life, but at the cost of becoming a mind-controlled slave to Loki along with Selvig. At Loki's command, Clint took himself, Selvig, and the God of Mischief away from SHIELD's area of control, while telling Loki everything he had learned about "The Avengers Initiative."  

Joining the Avengers

Still under Loki's thrall, Clint worked with the equally mind-controlled Selvig to create a method of disrupting the Tesseract using iridium. Loki wanted to test Earth's mightiest warriors in preparation for ruling Earth. To that end, the God of Mischief allowed himself to be captured and brought on board the Helicarrier that also contained Nick Fury, Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor, and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo). 

While Loki distracted the people on the Helicarrier with his mind games, Clint led an aerial assault against the Helicarrier itself. He almost succeeded in taking down the giant machine, but was brought back to his senses at the last minute by Black Widow. Now free of Loki's mind control, Clint vowed to make up for his earlier actions by aiding the newly formed Avengers in their fight against the God of Mischief. 

To that end, Clint joined the other heroes in the battle against Loki's alien army in New York. He was able to hold off the army long enough to fire an exploding arrow at Loki, which briefly took the villain out of the battle. Finally, Hawkeye and the other Avengers combined their forces to stop Loki's army, imprisoned the God of Mischief, and stepped out of the shadows to become heroes for all of mankind.   

Dealing with the aftermath

While Loki had been captured, the effects of his attack on Earth were felt long afterwards in a number of ways. Clint was now officially a member of the Avengers. The team of heroes learned that Loki's enchanted scepter had passed into the hands of prominent HYDRA agent Baron Strucker. Strucker had already used the scepter to carry out experiments on humans, with the most successful products of such tests being Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and her twin brother Pietro (Aaron Taylor-Johnson).

While the Avengers managed to retrieve the scepter at the start of 2015's "Avengers: Age of Ultron," Wanda slipped in a bit of hypnosis in Tony Stark's psyche to make him paranoid. With the help of Bruce Banner, Tony began work on an AI named Ultron that could defend humanity against any alien threats. The AI eventually broke free of Tony's programming and became sentient. Ultron decided that humanity needed to be destroyed, and once again Clint and the other Avengers had to step up to save the world.

After a long and hard-fought battle, during which Clint was forced to reveal the existence of his secret family farm to the other Avengers, they were able to destroy Ultron. Pietro died while saving Clint, and Wanda became an ally to the heroes. A new member was also added to the team in the form of Tony's former AI butler-turned-sentient-cyborg Vision (Paul Bettany). 

Retiring from the game

Despite managing to defeat Loki, Ultron, and other major enemies, Hawkeye was starting to become uncomfortably aware that he was hopelessly outmatched in such battles against literal gods and monsters. In the days leading up to the final assault against Ultron, Clint promised his wife that he would retire from active duty if he managed to survive the next battle intact. 

Once Ultron was gone Clint made good on his promise and officially retired from the Avengers and SHIELD. He made it back home in time for the birth of his third child, Nathaniel Pietro Barton, who was named after Natasha and Pietro. Despite trying to enjoy retirement, Clint did not find regular activities much fun. He mentioned to Tony later that he had taken up golf, but found the pastime unchallenging since his incredible marksmanship allowed him to make a hole-in-one with every swing.

Clint then learned about the creation of the Sokovia Accords designed to rein in superhumans, and how the question of signing the accords had led to infighting between the Avengers during the events of 2016's "Captain America: Civil War." Feeling compelled to help his friends, Clint came out of retirement to fight at Captain America's side. This eventually led to Clint becoming a fugitive from the law, and being taken into custody by the military along with Cap's other allies.   

Trying retirement again

While Steve Rogers aka Captain America broke Clint and the others out of prison soon after the events of "Captain America: Civil War," they were still wanted fugitives. Clint decided to turn himself in to the FBI and agree to the Sokovia Accords in return for being placed under house arrest on his own farm instead of being imprisoned. 

And so Hawkeye vowed to once again retire from the superhero business and devote all his time to taking care of his farm and his family. Clint spent his house arrest bonding with his children and teaching archery to his daughter Lila, who showed a similar talent with the bow and arrow as her father. 

While Clint was enjoying his downtime with his family, in 2018 his life was turned upside down when he discovered that his wife and children had mysteriously disappeared in his very presence. He would later come to learn of Thanos' (Josh Brolin) mission to eradicate half of all life in the universe, and how the Avengers had failed to stop the Mad Titan, resulting in the death of untold trillions including Clint's entire family at the end of "Avengers: Infinity War." 

Becoming Ronin

Having lost his family, and blaming himself and the other heroes for not being able to stop Thanos, Clint grew increasingly unstable. He took the fact that so many criminals survived the snap that killed his family and many other innocents as a personal insult. Clint decided to get back into active duty, this time as the vigilante "Ronin."

Armed with new weaponry, most notably a retractable sword, Clint waged a brutal war against the criminal underworld of New York. Having killed every villain he could find in the city, Ronin turned his attention to the Mexican cartel. In 2019's "Avengers: Endgame," James Rhodes aka War Machine (Don Cheadle) described Clint's actions in Mexico to Natasha Romanoff in chilling terms: "The federales found a room full of bodies, looks like a bunch of cartel guys. Never even got a chance to get their guns out."  

Still thirsting for vengeance, Clint then made his way to Japan to take down the Yakuza crime syndicate. After eliminating the other members of the mafia group, Ronin engaged in a tense one-on-one sword fight with major Yakuza leader Akihiko (Hiroyuki Sanada). Despite some close shaves, Clint won the battle, at which point he realized Natasha had joined him. After a somber conversation, Clint allowed Nat to take him back to the Avengers headquarters to figure out a plan to bring everyone back from the snap.

Time heist

Initially, Clint was reluctant to hold on to any hope at all that his family might return, fearing he would not be able to bear it if their plan failed. Eventually he came around to the plan the Avengers were making to go back in time to collect the six Infinity Stones before Thanos and make their own Infinity Gauntlet. 

Clint was the first to volunteer to test the new time-traveling technology. He used Ant-Man's (Paul Rudd) Pym Particles to successfully travel back in time to his farm, where he heard his children's voices nearby. An overwhelmed Hawkeye called out to his daughter, but was whisked away before he could see her. Now convinced the plan could work, Clint helped the other Avengers decide on a plan of action to retrieve the infinity stones.     

Clint and Natasha were tasked with getting the Soul Stone on the planet Vormir. Arriving at the location, they discovered that one needed to sacrifice the other in order to find the stone. Clint insisted he be the one to sacrifice himself, but Natasha beat him to the punch. Devastated over now having lost his best friend as well, Clint returned to the Avengers headquarters with the Soul Stone as the other teams brought each of the other five stones. Bruce Banner was able to use them to snap everyone who had disappeared five years ago back into existence, including Clint's family.   

Final stand against Thanos

Still grieving the loss of Nat, Clint's cellphone started ringing after Hulk's snap. Clint picked up his phone, and was moved to tears upon hearing his wife at the other end. But before the Avengers could celebrate their victory, the Thanos from the past arrived into the present, bombing the Avengers headquarters in preparation for getting his hands on their Infinity Gauntlet.

Clint regrouped forces with the other heroes as they prepared to make a final stand against Thanos. Clint got to the gauntlet first, and he continued to protect it from Thanos' army while being aided by the other heroes. The gauntlet passed from Clint's hands to Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) to Spider-Man (Tom Holland) to Captain Marvel (Brie Larson). Thanos tried to get his hands on the gauntlet, but Iron Man managed to retrieve the Infinity Stones from the gauntlet and used them to snap the Mad Titan and his army away.

Despite having won, Clint spent the next few days mourning the loss of Black Widow and attending the funeral of Tony Stark. Clint also reconnected with his old friend Wanda Maximoff, and comforted her over the loss of Vision. At long last, Barton returned to his family on their farm. Due to enduring years of loud explosions and head injuries, he had become partially deaf, requiring the need to wear a hearing-aid.

Training the next Hawkeye

Trying to live a peaceful life with his family, Clint decided to take his children to a new musical about the Avengers opening in New York City. But the memories triggered by the musical proved too much, and Clint excused himself early. Back in his hotel room, Clint learned through the news that a new vigilante who wore his old "Ronin" suit had become active in the city.

Feeling personal responsibility for the "Ronin" persona, Clint tracked down his doppelganger, who turned out to be a young woman named Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld). She revealed that she had gotten the Ronin suit off a black market site, and was using it to fight crime just like her hero Hawkeye. 

Clint wanted nothing to do with the superhero world again, but he agreed to aid Kate in her fight against an organization called the "Tracksuit Mafia" while searching for his Ronin suit, which had disappeared once again. Clint and Kate bonded over their mutual love of archery and their conflicting ideas of heroism, as the Tracksuit Mafia circled ever closer, along with a bunch of new villains. And so continues the saga of Hawkeye on his new Disney+ show.