WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Hawkeye: Freefall by Matthew Rosenberg, Otto Schmidt and VC’s Joe Sabino, on sale now from Marvel.
The latest miniseries starring the Avengers’ resident archer, Clint Barton, presents a character who is very different from his big-screen counterpart. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Hawkeye underwent a dark trajectory after his family was snapped away by Thanos at the start of Avengers: Endgame. After the film’s five-year time jump, Clint went through a major transformation. After finding himself alone, the superhero adopted the new secret identity of Ronin and started acting as a vigilante, brutally murdering all the criminals who had been “spared” by the Snap.
However, Clint Barton is generally not that dark of a character in comics. More often than not, he’s a bit of a screw-up who’s usually covered in bandages and getting himself into trouble in his modern incarnation. Clint’s solo adventures are often more lighthearted, as evidenced by his latest scheme in Hawkeye: Freefall. While this series features a typically hapless Hawkeye, it’s also forcing him to confront his dark Avengers: Endgame persona as well.
In Hawkeye: Freefall, Clint Barton is facing the duality of his superhero identities head-on. In fact, the superhero stole time-travel technology that once belonged to Kang the Conqueror that allows him to travel one hour through time. Thanks to this device, he is able to essentially be in two places at once. On the one hand, he is the classic, goofy Clint Barton/Hawkeye, part-time superhero and Avenger; and, on the other, he suits up as the lethal Ronin and works to brutally dismantle the Hood’s criminal organization one bad guy at a time.
While the Ronin identity is closely associated with him, most of Clint’s superhero friends dismiss the possibility that it’s him underneath the mask because he couldn’t possibly be in two places at the same time, even though he actually is. As more and more people start to piece the truth together, Clint has started resorting to hilariously desperate measures to keep the lie alive. It’s both dark and funny, and it delivers the perfect contrast to the character’s different personas in the comics and on the big screen.
Therefore, Hawkeye: Freefall bridges the gap between these two versions of the character. In the limited series, Clint juggles his darker instincts with the idealism of being a superhero. His methods are unorthodox to say the least, but he’s doing what he believes he must to stop the Hood. By juggling these two personas, Clint is trying to have his cake and eat it too. However, it’s not a sustainable course of action and he will, eventually, have to choose one or the other.
Of course, Clint eventually stops his one-man crusade to join the Avengers once more in the MCU, but he’s still a much darker figure than he was in previous films. His actions as Ronin even drive him to willingly sacrifice his life on Vormir to get the Soul Stone — something he isn’t able to do because Black Widow ends up sacrificing her own life instead.
Still, the MCU’s Clint Barton will have to reconcile his dual identities too, and that may very well happen in the upcoming Hawkeye Disney+ series. And the basis for this story direction might be found in Hawkeye: Freefall — if not in a literal sense, then at least on a thematic level. After all, it sure looks like the comic series is heading towards a literal for a confrontation between the two different versions of Clint, and there’s no telling who might win that fight.
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In Hawkeye: Freefall, Clint Barton has to confront his dual identity as the darker hero Ronin, his dark persona who came to life in Avengers: Endgame.