In "Avengers: Age of Ultron," Marvel Studios gave birth to many new characters sure to have an impact on its superhero universe in the movies and years to come. Vision's the most obvious one, of course, what with his Infinity Stone-infused forehead and his doe-eyed robot face. But he wasn't a secret. As much as Marvel tried to keep a lid on their Vision reveal, we knew all about the fan-favorite character's impending arrival prior to hitting the movie theater.
No, the REAL surprise characters had very little to do with Vision, or even Ultron, or any other costumed superheroes for that matter — save for one: Hawkeye. The bow-wielding member of the Avengers emptied a big bag of secrets on his teammates in "Age of Ultron," revealing that he's not the loner everyone thinks he is.
The existence of Clint Barton's wife and two kids (make that three, actually. Hi, Nathaniel!) was one of the biggest shocks of "Age of Ultron," and certainly one of its happiest. Word trickled out about veteran actress Linda Cardellini having a role in the "Avengers" sequel a few weeks before release, but few people could have guessed she would be playing Laura Barton, Hawkeye's wife and mother of his children.
With today being Cardellini's 40th birthday, and with Jeremy Renner hard at work shooting "Captain America: Civil War" as we speak, we got to thinking about Laura and Clint, and their future together in the Marvel Cinematic Universe… and honestly, we're hoping it's as happy as it appears in "Age of Ultron," but we're worried.
By the end of the "Avengers" sequel, Barton takes a hike from his superhero days, hanging up the bow and quiver, and opting instead to focus on his family. It's impossible to question Hawkeye's decision to retire, between the trauma he endured while watching Pietro Maximoff die before his very eyes, to the birth of his new baby son. The man has earned some rest.
But there's no rest for the wickedly accurate sharp-shooter. We already know Renner has a role to play in "Civil War," despite his character being retired from the Avenging business. What could possibly shake him out of retirement when he has so much going on in his personal life?
This is where we start to get nervous. In the comics, "Civil War" kicks off its inciting incident with a massive explosion that all but wipes Stamford, Connecticut off the map. That exact incident isn't likely to occur in the "Civil War" movie, but some comparable disaster is needed to get Captain America and Iron Man in such a fiercely oppositional place with one another — something disastrous enough to call Hawkeye back into action.
One imagines Hawkeye's motivation for leaving the farm yet again will be a personal one. After all, awesome as he is, it's not like he's the most essential Avenger in the lot. With high-flying folks like War Machine and the godlike Vision in the mix, does either side of the Rogers/Stark aisle really need an eagle-eyed archer? Want is one thing, but need? Maybe not.
You have to imagine something personal needs to happen to shake Hawkeye out of retirement. "Age of Ultron" didn't give Clint the happy ending on the farm for no reason, if he was just going to wind up working with one set of Avengers or another by the time the next Marvel movie rolled around. Could it be because the inciting incident of "Civil War" has dark repercussions for Hawkeye's family life?
Adding to the list of reasons to worry is the fact that in the Ultimate comics, Laura Barton and the rest of Hawkeye's family are brutally murdered, thanks to a traitorous Black Widow. Soooooo, there's that.
That said, there are a lot of reasons to think the Bartons will be totally fine. For one thing, these movies aren't soul-crushingly depressing, and killing the Bartons would be the epitome of soul-crushing depression. For another, the movies are far from 1:1 adaptations of the comics, so the Ultimates story could mean absolutely nothing for the films. What's more, "Civil War" is already overloaded with characters, to the point that making such a personal story out of Hawkeye's family is probably asking too much out of the film.
The good old saying of "hope for the best, prepare for the worst" applies here. In all likelihood, Clint's family won't have much to do in "Civil War," if they have anything to do at all. We might not see them again until the next "Avengers" sequels, in 2018. That's probably the best-case scenario.
The worst-case scenario, though? It's pretty much the worst. So consider this our birthday wish to the erstwhile Lindsey Weir: Stay happy, stay healthy, and for all things holy, stay right where you are on that freaking farm.