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The biggest Marvel movie yet is nearly upon us, as The Avengers are ready to storm theaters and bring audiences the comic-book crossover event most fans could only dream of. But with so many heroes, gods and supersoldiers assembling from across half a dozen different movies, the question remains: who’s the best Avenger?
It’s time to pick sides. Join both Player Affinity Movies and Comics in making the case for each member of the Avengers as truly being Earth’s mightiest hero.
Julian Stark wants you to remember that newer and flashier fighting techniques aren’t always better. He’s also reminding you that Hawkeye is the best Avenger. Rooted in realism more than the others in the group, the hero uses his self-made physical strengths in combat.
Real Name: Clint Barton
Played by: Jeremy Renner
Previously Played/Voiced by: Chris Cox, Andrew Francis, and Adrian Pasdar (Renner’s is the first serious live-action portrayal of Hawkeye)
Abilities/Skills: Although Hawkeye boasts no actual superpowers, he is in prime physical condition and can engage with others in hand-to-hand combat. His primary strength, however, is in long-range weapons such as the bow and arrow, aided by his superb accuracy. All of his strengths are from his own creation.
Love Interests: Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, Barbara Morse/Mockingbird
First Comic Appearance: Tales of Suspense #57 in 1964
Comic Re-imaginings: The Ultimates re-imagines Hawkeye as using the alibi of being an Olympic archer to escape a charge of murder. This series also portrays him as having severe emotional struggles that result in brash and self-harming behavior. Perhaps The Avengers gives Hawkeye a surprisingly strong dramatic arc?
Feature Film Appearances: Thor (2011)
Notable Television Appearances: The Marvel Action Hour: Iron Man (1994-1996); Avengers (1999-2000); The Super Hero Squad Show (2009); The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (2010-2012)
Weaknesses of the Movie Interpretation: As is the case with his love interest Black Widow, Hawkeye didn’t even get his own movie. That in itself presents a huge disadvantage in Marvel’s cinematic portrayal of him. What’s more, he only briefly appeared in last year’s Thor in an awkward, cameo-like bit that undoubtedly confused viewers who weren’t familiar with the Marvel universe. Even to those of us who are privy to such information, the moment greatly disrupted the flow of the film and seemed like a half-hearted way of introducing the character. Given his emotional struggles in The Ultimates, we can hope that The Avengers gives him more to do than puzzlingly pop up every now and then.
Why Hawkeye is the Best: Hawkeye is the best Avenger because he’s the most relatable and human of the group. He doesn’t have Tony Stark’s fancy Iron Man getup, The Hulk’s supernaturally gargantuan form, Captain America’s enhanced strength, or Thor’s mighty hammer, but Nick Fury saw something in him that sparked his interest. Additionally, he has personal demons that seriously need some exorcising. Despite the modernity and superficiality of the others on the team, he sticks true to his gut and his own talents. In short, Hawkeye’s the best Avenger because he speaks to the lonely outsider in all of us and presents the best kind of superhero: one whose transcends the ordinary by simply relying on his own physical strengths.
Weaknesses: Unfortunately, his self-made strengths present a huge weakness: he’s vulnerable to many things that other Avengers could easily outmaneuver. His lack of superhuman abilities means that he, like average people, is susceptible to gunshots, stabbing, incineration, etc.
Why Hawkeye is Better than Captain America: Captain America would have been nothing without genetic alterations. Aside from that transformation, he’s nothing other than a skinny kid whose patriotism is admirable yet slightly annoying. Even with that transformation, he’s basically a guy with above-average human strength who’s used to encourage US troops. Hawkeye doesn’t have any specific national ties, symbolizing a sense of universality. What’s more, his strength is something he came into on his own and not through an oddly successful science experiment.
Why Hawkeye is Better than Iron Man: Hawkeye’s strengths don’t come from a heightened sense of privilege. On the other hand, Tony Stark/Iron Man is a rich guy who got lucky. When you’re one of the world’s wealthiest individuals who came into your money by way of family and not work, you can basically do anything you want. For instance, you can buy the Taj Mahal – the real one – and still have money to spare. Discover a weakness in your Iron Man suit, and any amount of money can buy you the solution. Hawkeye must rely on his own self-made means to survive in the heat of battle.
Why Hawkeye is Better than The Hulk: It’s virtually common knowledge that The Hulk is a frighteningly strong giant. However, is that really a good thing? He specializes in close-range combat, and though he can pick up objects like cars and throw them at enemies, how precise is he in his throwing of such projectiles? Hawkeye lacks The Hulk’s superhuman strength, but if you’re looking for someone to annihilate some long-distance foes, Hawkeye’s trusty bow and arrow will do the trick. Relying on The Hulk to do that would probably leave you with a long-distance enemy still approaching you and – perhaps even worse – unwanted auto and property damage.
Why Hawkeye is Better than Thor: Thor was born into a royal family and as such had access to a supernatural hammer. He also has a dangerously spontaneous temper. Although separated by time and, well, universes, Thor can be seen as representing both the privileges of Iron Man (family) and the weaknesses of The Hulk (temper). Thor has an amazing weapon in the hammer, and his naivety when making his way in our universe is endearing, but he, in essence, represents the worst of the Avengers with his brashness and lack of self-made strength. Hawkeye contrasts both negatives by putting his tempers aside and making himself into an incredible superhuman force.
One Thing We Hope Hawkeye Will do in The Avengers: In The Avengers, we’re hoping that the bow-wielding Avenger isn’t simply relegated as a side character to the more privileged members of the gang, showing that he can hold his own alongside them in the midst of battle. We’re consequently hoping that he gets a powerful dramatic storyline in the film as is the case in The Ultimates. Not only would it make up for the failed attempt to add dramatic realism to Iron Man 2 (though Robert Downey Jr. did a great job at trying to make it work), it would also give The Avengers the right to call itself more than an epic superhero conglomerate.