Hawkeye Features the MCU's Best Clint Barton Yet
Margaret David
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the first two episodes of Hawkeye, now streaming on Disney+
Clint Barton is the last original Avenger to get a solo spotlight, and Hawkeye opens with a charming pair of episodes that start an action-packed Christmas countdown. Clint is not often a fan favorite, and his turn as Ronin didn't help; however, Hawkeye turns that into a strength, leaning into Clint's truculent behavior and using his lowest points as effective story leverage, but that's not the secret to why Clint is finally the best he's ever been. Hawkeye sets out to prove that Clint is everyone's tired dad.
Clint Barton is a literal father, of course. His Marvel Cinematic Universe incarnation borrows more from his Ultimates comic backstory at first, with Age of Ultron introducing us to his wife, Laura, and his kids. Hawkeye then opens with Clint trying to have a nice holiday with his kids, suffering through an Avengers musical and taking them to see the Rockefeller Christmas Tree. His one goal is to be at home with them come Christmas Day, but Hawkeye is fast to introduce elements from Matt Fraction and David Aja's acclaimed comic run, and Christmas morning isn't the only thing under impending threat.
His first minutes with Kate Bishop put him in the position of an exhausted father trying to clean up his kid's mess, and it's clear he doesn't realize how he's used to the routine. By the time he's sitting Kate down and showing her how to properly clean up the wound on her forehead, it's obvious he sees her as another child, even though Kate is an adult. In fact, he talks to her the same firm way he talks to his daughter, Lila.
Clint Barton wearing hearing aids in Hawkeye trailer
Clint Barton wearing hearing aids in Hawkeye trailer
Clint was granted the unenviable position of being the most ordinary dude on the Avengers team. He's a fairly baseline human with great accuracy, military discipline and a lot of sarcastically-tinged loyalty, but even he knows he is painfully human. Plus, his role in the previous Avengers films left him as a sardonic moral waypoint, and although he always treated Wanda Maximoff with surprising gentleness through Captain America: Civil War, now he's doing the same with Kate.
So far the shining trait of these Disney+ series is those close-in looks at a character's humanity. It's a feature that's explored Wanda's grief, Bucky's recovery, Sam's struggle with legacy and Loki's loneliness. For Clint, we're set to explore who he is at last, and so far, the answers are exactly what he's needed all along.
He's a father who knows what it's like to be scared and grieving. He's lost everything he loved, regained some of it and is still healing from damages both mental and physical. He's made some big mistakes, and they're coming back to haunt him.
Clint is a human being, and while the comics have informed many of the charming details of the show, from the aesthetic, to Pizza Dog, to the Tracksuit Mafia, the biggest thing the Disney+ show needed to take from the source was Barton's affable, bad luck humanity. The best news for the series is that the show is already giving us exactly that.
Hawkeye's first two episodes are now streaming on Disney+. New episodes drop every Wednesday.