Grasping at Straws: Hawkeye

Welcome to Grasping at Straws, the weekly blog where the unheralded, the underappreciated, and the long forgotten get their time to shine! Each week, I will “make the case” for an unpopular opinion regarding any topic or category of culture and life. Suggestions for future topics will be taken and considered at any of Sour Power’s social media channels, but please, keep it classy.

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Here at Grasping at Straws, we’re usually all about having a little bit of innocent fun. We’ve recounted dramatic experiences at the airport baggage claim, dedicated poems to breakfast sandwiches, and outlined the key components to singing in your car. Each blog has taken commonplace items, events, and activities and gave it a wacky spin that you hadn’t seen coming. Often times, even, the topics we cover (especially Wikipedia or John Hancock) aren’t about anything you ever think about on a daily basis.

Today, however, I have a serious point I want to make. With Avengers: Endgame hitting theaters everywhere tomorrow, and these films becoming so mainstream that I assume you’re aware of what will be going on in this blog, I would like to officially declare Hawkeye as an underrated choice for the title of most heroic Avenger. There it is. The hot take. The clickbait. The thing that’s supposed to make you read the rest of this (that is, if you don’t exit out at this point) with a ceaseless disapproving shake of your head.

Except there is a legitimate argument to make here. Not that Hawkeye is the most powerful. Or most compelling. Or most essential. Just that he is the most heroic. The one most aware of the stakes in each movie and willing to do what is necessary each time.

Let’s begin with some character background. Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye (played by the great Jeremy Renner), is a farmer and arguably the character with the least amount of “superpowers” among any that have appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or MCU. He’s insanely talented with a bow and arrow, sure, but the abilities of the rest of the Avengers make Hawkeye look like a a regular old hawk that can’t even fly. He doesn’t have a cool suit of armor, doesn’t possess superhuman strength, and can’t do any of the quasi-magical things that the Scarlet Witch or Dr. Strange can do. Again, definitely not the most powerful.

In the first Avengers film, Hawkeye was brainwashed by the main antagonist, Loki, near the beginning of the film and spends a good portion of the movie doing his bidding. Tough break for my guy Hawkeye. However, once he was eventually freed from this mind control, he eventually joined the fight against Loki and put on an absolute clinic of marksmanship against extraterrestrial invaders. There was zero hesitation there despite facing a horde of terrifying aliens. He even makes sure to save a bus full of civilians (although I don’t know how far those poor people made it within that calamitous war zone).

Later in the fight, after he’s fired his last arrow, Hawkeye bests one of the aliens in hand-to-bow combat and executes a daring survival jump to perfection all on the fly. Oh yeah, at one point he also takes down a flying alien without even looking. Just another day at the office for Hawk. This guy has no business being this brave and effective in these sorts of battles, yet he consistently comes away with some of the coolest looking kills as well as generally seeming like absolutely nothing phases him.

Heroism extends beyond the action sequences, though, and in Avengers: Age of Ultron is where Hawkeye separates himself as an elite Avenger. As the newly introduced Scarlet Witch cowers in fear of the chaos around her in Sokovia, Hawkeye delivers one of the best 2-minute stretches any Avenger has ever had in a major battle. He demonstrates excellent motivational skills, inspiring courage, and is downright hilarious all while, as he says, the city is flying. None of this may make sense, but every aspect of Hawkeye’s heroic nature is on display during that sequence.

Also during Ultron, Hawkeye goes way beyond what is expected of an Avenger by opening his home to the entire squad just to keep them safe. Remember, this dude lives on a farm. He’s not a billionaire like Tony Stark. Still, he does what is necessary based on what the situation demands. Plus, we get to see some heartwarming, humanizing stuff with Hawkeye just being Clint, the regular family man.

As for the final Avengers film that has to this very moment actually been wide-released, well…Hawkeye never shows up. In Avengers: Infinity War, the only mention of him is to say that he isn’t coming. Unsurprisingly, I have a defense for his absence: it’s the smart play. He had the foresight to know that the good guys would lose the initial battle to Thanos and decided he would hang back with his lovely family until the remaining group truly needed him. Now that he’s all rested up and ready to come off the bench, Hawkeye is going to be a key component in the struggle to defeat the purple Titan.

Hawkeye’s exact role in Endgame is not likely to be anywhere near the most crucial, but I can guarantee that he’s going to be right in the thick of all the action, making every right decision possible to give the Avengers the best chance to succeed. Just like in any workplace, someone you can depend on is often among the most important and respected people there. Combine that with his standing as an original Avenger (meaning no one has more experience), and Hawkeye is truly the consummate pro.

A pro is an expert at their job. And what is Hawkeye’s job? Being a hero.

Go ahead and laugh at how Hawkeye stacks up to the rest of the Avengers. You wouldn’t be the first. You won’t be laughing, however, when Hawkeye places an arrow right between the eyes of an enemy who has your favorite Avenger on the ropes. The man is as clutch as it gets, and he’s going to be eager to prove his doubters wrong in the upcoming final showdown against Thanos. As you’re walking out of the theater following the end of the film this weekend, I’d be shocked if you don’t come away thinking that the team couldn’t have (presumably) saved the universe without the help of the trustworthy, brave, and heroic Hawkeye.

Or maybe, I’m just grasping at straws.