Dear Marvel: Never Give Hawkeye His Own Movie

By  · Published on September 24th, 2014

Marvel Studios

It’s been at least six hours since our last piece of Marvel movie news, so we have to find something to tide us over. In this case, a wink will do nicely.

The wink (two winks, really) in question comes from the upper and lower eyelids of Jeremy Renner, who played Hawkeye in The Avengers, showed up for like half a second in Thor and has otherwise gone unused by the Marvel Universe gods. And according to Renner, that’s just fine; he’d much rather be the “utility guy,” called in whenever a Marvel venture needs another vaguely super dude to add a little interconnectivity.

This comes by way of MTV News, who spoke with Renner about his future in the Marvel stable. Just before that line about being a “utility guy” comes this frank declaration: “I’m not scratching or clawing to do a solo movie by any means.” And just after comes two big fat winks, directly after the words “Cap” and “three” enter the conversation.

I’m no entertainment lawyer, but something tells me the joining of Renner’s eyelids in this coy fashion is meant to imply that his character may appear in Captain America 3 without him speaking the words aloud and thus breaching some non-disclosure agreement with a “reveal this and we will kill you” clause. Another piece of evidence that Hawkeye is meant to be the utility guy and never headline any movie or television show ever.

Which is just about the smartest move Marvel could make. Not because Hawkeye is a poor representation of the superhero set – sure, people rag on the guy because he has no powers, uses a weapon from about 10,000 years ago and only showed up in The Avengers to get brain drained and fight on the wrong team – but because Hawkeye has a scruffy, lovable loser-ish warmth to him, from his early days of being a huge dick to Captain America, to his later days in the most recent solo “Hawkeye” comic, where he fends off a group of identical Russians in identical tracksuits that only speak in variations of “bro.” Also, he has a dog named Pizza Dog, who loves pizza and at one point got an entire comic in his own POV.

All these things are wonderful parts of Hawkeye’s comic footprint. And they should never appear in a piece of filmed Marvel media by themselves, because if we’re going to keep doing this expanded universe thing we should take the opportunity to do things you can only do in an expanded universe. Like have a character (or characters, preferably) who isn’t the star of any particular movie but makes a home in the in-between moments of other people’s movies. You know, in the actual connective tissue that makes an expanded universe movie different from regular ol’ Blade or Batman Begins.

This is a notion that gets a lot of pushback. Example: Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is another character who’d probably be better off adding expanded universe cred to other people’s solo acts. And no one else seems to think this. Not Kevin Feige, who in February started talking about Black Widow: The Movie. Not Robert Downey Jr. Not Jessica Chastain, who has absolutely no ties to Marvel but is a fine actress in her own right, so what the hell, let’s throw her in, too.

Black Widow, like Hawkeye, is basically a superhero utility guy (or, more gender-accurately, utility girl). She’s had a handful of solo comics, but mostly she’s there to make the other people look all cool and Marvel-y. Having a live-action Black Widow do the same isn’t the worst thing in the world. It might even be to the benefit of the Marvel Universe.

But hey, maybe Renner just got two extremely sharp specks of dust in his eyes, and those winks are being construed as something they’re not. And in that case, I look forward to sighing heavily at the presence of Hawkeye: The Movie, and then paying to see it twice anyway.

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