WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War, in theaters now.
When it was revealed that not all of the Avengers would make it out of Avengers: Infinity War alive, most expected to see Hawkeye be one of the heroes to meet his end by the hand of Thanos. Except, unlike some of his fellow Avengers, the fan-favorite archer managed to escape the events of Infinity War unscathed.
So, how did Clint Barton manage to survive? It's simple, really -- he wasn't involved in Infinity War. At all.
Along with Ant-Man, Wasp and Valkyrie, Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye doesn't actually appear in Avengers: Infinity War, even though director Joe and Anthony Russo had teased his character as having a "special role" in the film ahead of release. Instead, he retired following Captain America: Civil War in order to spend more time with his family. His whereabouts are briefly addressed in the film by Black Widow (after Bruce Banner asks where Clint is), but after that, we hear next to nothing about him.
And in this case? That's a good thing.
We know that a handful of characters that didn't appear on screen in Infinity War are still very much alive thanks to recent quotes from various Marvel creatives. However, details have continued to remain sparse regarding Hawkeye and his future role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Perhaps the Russo brothers weren't simply trolling us and were instead teasing the archer's role in Avengers 4? After all, the original Avengers team is going to need some help, and although he may only have a bow and arrow, Barton's sure to be more helpful to the team than Banner at the moment. Unless Banner is, somehow, able to bring out the big guy by the next movie, of course.
As it stands, though, the Avengers are down quite a few members and if they're going to stand any chance at fixing the destruction caused by Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet, they're going to need all hands on deck. Which is why is a good thing we know Barton is still alive, and (hopefully) plays a large role in the forthcoming follow-up to Infinity War.
Over the course of filming on Infinity War and Avengers 4, a handful of set photos surfaced, providing us our best looks at some of the new costumes being sported on the big screen -- including Barton's new duds. In photos that surfaced late last year, Renner was seen sporting a costume that is relatively close to the comic design of Clint's other persona, Ronin, confirmation that, yes, Renner did actually film scenes for Avengers 4, and that he doesn't turn to dust like half of the population.
That isn't to say that the events of Avengers 4 couldn't lead to a much different take on Barton. After all, Renner did also tease his classic Hawkeye costume in an Instagram post last year shortly before he had wrapped filming on the project. Although it's unknown when he'll actually sport that costume in the film as the Russo brothers have suggested that time travel will not play a role in Avengers 4. (Then again, they promised us Hawkeye in Infinity War, so...)
Even then, Renner's character's presence would seem to suggest that he has, indeed, managed to survive after the Mad Titan wiped out half of humanity. What remains to be seen, however, is whether or not his family survives alongside him as they were the reason he initially retired. Perhaps it's only after something happens to them that he comes out of retirement? It's hard to know for sure, especially this far out.
What matters, though, is that he's still alive. Sorry Thanos, but Hawkeye wins this round. Who's laughing now?! Barton, that's who -- and the Russo brothers.
Avengers: Infinity War is directed by Joe and Anthony Russo and stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Paul Bettany, Anthony Mackie, Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Olsen, Tom Holland, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Tom Hiddleston and Josh Brolin, among others.