With Reporting by Kevin P. Sullivan
As Earth's mightiest heroes prepare to assemble in front of audiences for the second time, Clint "Hawkeye" Barton is getting ready for his first real debut.
Yes, Hawkeye was a part of the superhero squad in the first "Avengers," but before standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Captain America and Iron Man, he was a thorn in their side, thanks to being brainwashed at the hands of Loki. Now, in "Avengers: Age of Ultron," we're going to see more of what Jeremy Renner wanted to see out of Hawkeye — at least, that's what Renner said on the set of the "Avengers" sequel.
Here's what we can expect from Hawkeye in "Age of Ultron," according to Renner himself:
Marvel Zombie No More!
The days of Hawkeye taking orders from an evil alien overlord are over. In "Age of Ultron," we're finally getting to know the real Clint Barton, free of brainwashing — and he's the version of the character Renner and writer-director Joss Whedon wanted to offer up from the very beginning.
"It's a lot of the stuff that Joss and I talked about doing in the first one," said Renner, about what to expect from Hawkeye's material in the "Avengers" sequel. "It's really exciting for me and Joss to kind of delve into the character a little bit more. There's some wonderful secrets, and relationships deepen. There's a lot more of him to deal with, versus the hypnotized version of him."
Missing In Action
Hawkeye is the one Avenger we have not seen in a single Marvel Phase Two movie. Even with Bruce Banner, at least the Hulk's alter-ego appeared in the post-credits scene of "Iron Man 3." So, what has Hawkeye been up to? Where has he been? Renner said that the answer will be a big part of his character's story in "Age of Ultron."
"You'll know in this movie, where he's been," he laughed. "Yeah, you'll now. It's actually a really wonderful, secret reveal. It's pretty, pretty awesome."
The Company You Keep
In "Age of Ultron," the Avengers are operating without S.H.I.E.L.D. supervision, thanks to the organization's takedown at the end of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." Renner said that we'll find out a bit more on Hawkeye's reaction to the collapse of S.H.I.E.L.D., and interestingly enough, he's not that upset.
"My take on it is, it's probably a good thing," he said. "He's kind of a loner, anyway. He's a team player, only because he sort of has to be. He's not really a company man … I don't think S.H.I.E.L.D. was ever really that important to him. Fury's awesome, he likes Fury and will do anything for him, but a company is just not [for Hawkeye]. He doesn't punch in and punch out."
The New Recruits
The six Avengers from the first film will have new company in "Age of Ultron," with Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch entering the mix. Renner's Hawkeye plays a central role in vetting the two new characters, according to the actor, with both Maximoff siblings very much on his radar.
"They're great characters," he said. "They're a little blurry on kind of where they stand as far as good and bad, which [Hawkeye can] appreciate, I guess. I'm sort of policing them to see if they're worthy or not, I guess, of being good guys or bad guys. I question them a lot."
As Hawkeye wrestles with whether or not the Avengers can trust Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, he's dealing with all kinds of trust issues of his own. Renner described Hawkeye as a bit of a skeptic, and says that his lone wolf nature is actually an asset to the team.
"He's very skeptical of new people, because it's a military kind of thinking in the sense of, 'I have to trust that you have my six or you have my back while I'm trying to manifest something up here,'" he said. "You have to work as a unit, as a team, otherwise we all fail, or I die, or someone else dies. So that's where the skepticism comes in. Not just to be grumpy or not like somebody — it's all there for a reason, and it plays out a lot in this movie."
The Widow Maker
Of course, if there's one person that Hawkeye trusts — and that remains an if — it's likely to be Natasha Romanoff. Hawkeye's connection with Black Widow was front and center in his story in the first "Avengers," and their connection remains alive and well here in "Age of Ultron."
"They have a long, long history together," he teased. "There's more of that revealed in this [movie] as well."
Never Missing In Action
When it comes to Hawkeye, many fans continue to ask the same question: What business does an archer have hanging around with gamma-radiated giants, super-strong super-soldiers, thunder-cracking alien deities and the like? It's a fair question, and one that Renner has an answer for: Hawkeye's super power is his inability to miss the target.
"You have to be a smart fighter when you don't have super powers, and that's what makes him sort of super in a way," he said. "He has to use his mind as much as he has to use his physical ability — his ability to never miss."
It doesn't hurt that Hawkeye has some new tricks in his quiver this time around, thanks to teaming up with Tony Stark to beef up his archery arsenal. Exactly what we'll find in Hawkeye's hands won't be revealed until "Age of Ultron," but to hear Renner say it, "It's cool." Good enough for us.
Hawkeye takes aim in "Avengers: Age of Ultron" on May 1.