WARNING: The following article may spoil a major plot twist from Avengers: Infinity War.
As we count down the weeks until Avengers: Infinity War, it seems the biggest question on fans’ minds is also a pretty basic one: Where is Hawkeye?
Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton has not been in the trailers and has appeared in very little of the movie’s marketing thus far. Speculation ranges from the belief he will show up for the final battle in his Ronin guise, to the idea he has been sent on a secret mission with Ant-Man by Steve Rogers.
Directors Joe and Anthony Russo have both made comments assuring fans that the Avengers’ marksman is indeed in the film, and more, that he has a “special spot” in the epic storyline. Not wanting to spoil how Barton’s perfect aim will help stop the cosmic threat of Thanos and his Black Order, Anthony Russo recently stated, “All will be explained when people see the movie. It’s all tied into the story.” And with that declaration, we dig deep into the source material the movie appears to be drawing from for answers.
We know from what we’ve pieced together so far that Avengers: Infinity War's plot is pulling from various big Marvel events, including 2013’s Infinity, which introduced the Cull Obsidian aka The Black Order; 1992’s Infinity War, from which the movie obviously gets its name; and the seminal 1991 miniseries that sparked years of crossovers based around the Infinity Gems, Infinity Gauntlet.
Within six issues, Gauntlet creators Jim Starlin, George Perez and Ron Lim told the saga of Thanos the Mad Titan’s ascension to godhood, and his brutal fall from power. Footage from trailers and TV spots has revealed various scenes that seem to be panel-for-panel recreations of key moments from Infinity Gauntlet. For example, Captain America going toe-to-toe with The Mad Titan, Banner crashing into the Sanctum Sanctorum, and Thanos threatening that with the power of the Infinity Stones, he will be able to snap his fingers and wipe everyone out -- these are all comic book moments brought to life.
The same may prove true for Hawkeye's role in the film, so beware - we might be spoiling some major developments.
In the first issue of Infinity Gauntlet, Silver Sufer recounts to Doctor Strange that Lady Death has resurrected Thanos because she feels the universe is out of balance. The purple-skinned tyrant is tasked with wiping out half of all the universe’s living beings, and to do so, she grants him immeasurable power. He uses this might to gather the Infinity Gems, which then renders him omnipotent. Lady Death feels betrayed by Thanos’ scheme, so when his cohort suggests that he can win her favor by fulfilling his promise to cull half the universe’s population, he does so with a snap of his fingers.
While we mentioned the adaptation of that iconic moment above, it's the next twist that may tell us where Hawkeye is. Fifty percent of humanity is snuffed out of existence in the blink of an eye, including several heroes. Hawkeye is with Captain America at Avengers HQ when he starts to fade away, with Rogers helpless to do anything about it. While there is a whole lot of story in-between, by the end of the miniseries Thanos’ descendent Nebula has gained control of the Infinity Gauntlet. She uses it to set the universe back one full Earth day, which in turn means the the heroes never disappeared.
Audiences may very well see Barton zapped out of existence in the first or second act of the film, and then come back for the final battle. It’s even possible he could be held back for Avengers 4.
Of course, if we're right about Hawkeye, we expect others may suffer the same fate. Considering Ant-Man also seems to be MIA in all promotions so far, he is a likely candidate, along with The Wasp. Daredevil and Luke Cage were also erased in the comics, which we doubt will be dealt with on screen, but could be a fun nod and in-story explanation for the Defenders' absence from the biggest moment in the MCU Earth's history - so far.
Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, Avengers: Infinity War arrives in theaters April 27, and stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, 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.