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Ronin: Everything Fans Need to Know About Hawkeye's Avengers 4 Identity

The long-awaited trailer for Avengers 4 was finally released after months of waiting and revealed the title of the sequel to be Avengers: Endgame. This title was long-rumored following a line of Doctor Strange's during the battle with Thanos on Titan and references both the final battle between the Avengers and Thanos, but also the culmination of years of work spread over 20 films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that have all led to the upcoming fourth Avengers film. The first trailer introduced the original Avengers following the events of the "snap" AKA The Decimation, where Thanos wiped out 50% of all living beings. Some of the survivors included in the trailer are original members Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Natasha Romanova (Scarlett Johansson), Thor Odinson (Chris Hemsworth), and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), who are all dealing with tremendous loss after Infinity War.

While there were a number of interesting moments between the survivors, a clear standout in the first trailer was the return of Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) and the reveal of his new identity. He is shown on the streets of Japan in a new black and gold outfit, complete with a hood and a mask, far from the tactical S.H.I.E.L.D. uniform the character usually wore as Hawkeye. This appearance in the Endgame trailer not only helps answer the lingering question of Infinity War - "Where's Hawkeye?" - but also introduces a new aspect of Clint that reveals a lot about the character following the Decimation. Comic fans know the character better as Ronin, but there is a lot of mystery still surrounding Hawkeye's new identity. So here's everything fans need to know about Hawkeye's Endgame identity, Ronin.

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20 RONIN IS A JAPANESE TERM FOR A MASTERLESS SAMURAI

The original word "rōnin" references a feudal Japanese term for a samurai warrior who has lost their master. The literal meaning of the term is "wave man" which was an expression for someone who wanders or is emotionally adrift. Both of these defining aspects of the word seem to resonate perfectly with the character of Clint Barton as we see him in the Endgame trailer. He is no longer a member of the Avengers and operating as a lone warrior, and he has lost the favor of his government following the events of Captain America: Civil War. We'll discuss the likelihood that he is emotionally adrift soon as well.

19 THIS IS NOT FRANK MILLER'S RONIN

The name Ronin has been used before, most notably by comic legend Frank Miller for his 1983 DC maxi-series Rōnin. Set in a dystopian New York City, Miller's story follows an ancient samurai reborn in the future with telekinetic powers and robotic limbs to fight his eternal foe who has allied with a corrupt AI program. The series has itself been optioned to receive a live-action adaptation, though hasn't made much progress in recent years. Besides having a shared origin in the lore of the Samurai and Feudal Japan, Barton's new identity is unrelated to Miller's iconic story, which served as inspiration for Genndy Tartakovsky's Samurai Jack.

18 THIS IS NOT RONAN THE ACCUSER

Another confusing similarity here is that the MCU actually already has a character named Ronan. Lee Pace first appeared as Ronan the Accuser in James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014. While spelled slightly different, the character's origins are quite different as well, as Ronan is an alien fanatic of the Kree Empire, whereas Ronin is an Earth-based cover identity.  Of course, another big difference is that Ronan the Accuser is dead after his defeat by the Power Stone-powered Guardians at the climax of GotG, though we will see the character again in the upcoming Captain Marvel which is set in the 90s.

17 RONIN WAS CREATED BY BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS AND JOE QUESADA

Brian Michael Bendis and Joe Quesada both joined Marvel during an interesting transitionary period and did very well for themselves and moved the company in a newer direction to positive sales. Bendis helped launched the Ultimate universe with Ultimate Spider-Man while Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti's Marvel Knights line brought in huge sales following a troubled period for Marvel. Bendis soon made his move to the Avengers, which at the time was not a flagship comic property, and Disassembled the team to make way for something new. With the launch of his New Avengers, a new character known only as Ronin was included among the unique lineup of popular Marvel heroes.

16 RONIN'S ORIGINAL DESIGN WAS MUCH DIFFERENT

Ronin's ninja motif was the final look for the character, but the second print cover released for New Avengers #1 by David Finch featured an alternate version of Ronin. The black ninja tong remained, but the gold was missing, and a sheer fogged out faceplate helmet that really seemed to enhance the mystery of the wearer. This version gave the character a bit of a tech feel instead of the overall warrior aesthetic Bendis and Quesada eventually settled on but would have been an interesting direction for Ronin. After seeing the final costume represented in the trailer for Avengers: Endgame, the Mysterio-like helmet would not have made quite as big of an impact as the mask and hood.

15 HAWKEYE WAS NOT THE FIRST RONIN

The character of Ronin was a huge mystery upon the release of New Avengers, as the character didn't actually appear until New Avengers #11, despite being represented on covers during the launch of the series. Ronin had been suggested to the team by Matt Murdock AKA Daredevil, who worked with this new team of Avengers when they first assembled but declined the offer to join the team. Ronin was then revealed to be Maya Lopez AKA Echo, another Bendis creation who debuted during his run on Daredevil. Lopez was a deaf musician and dancer who was trained by Kingpin to use her photographic reflexes to replicate the fighting style of heroes like Daredevil, much like the Marvel villain known as Taskmaster.

14 BENDIS INTENDED FOR MATT MURDOCK TO BE RONIN

The launch of the New Avengers was accompanied by a few mysteries, including the true identity of Ronin and the eventual roster for the new team of heroes. New characters and street-level heroes like the Sentry, Spider-Woman, Luke Cage and Spider-Man were mixed with Avengers mainstays Captain America and Iron Man, who took the grouping as a sign that they should team up as the New Avengers. Matt Murdock AKA Daredevil was a crucial part of the battle at the Raft prison that first brought them all together and therefore offered a spot on the team but was forced to decline, suggesting Maya in his place. Bendis revealed that Matt Murdock was initially supposed to use the Ronin identity to be a New Avenger, though events in his own solo book scrapped those plans.

13 RONIN FIRST APPEARED IN JAPAN

When Ronin first appeared in the book, it was as Maya before she had joined the team, in secret conversations with Captain America. The first appearance in costume as Ronin was in Japan watching the Silver Samurai, who was dealing with the Hand and the Yakuza. This grouping of ninjas seemed like the perfect setting to debut Ronin, and it echoes the brief glimpses we saw in the Endgame trailer of the character. Barton is seen unmasking on the streets of Japan, with what appear to be dead Yakuza members at his feet. It not only potentially reveals where Clint has been since Infinity War but serves as a nice callback to the character's first appearance in the comics.

12 RONIN HAS A DEADLY NEW WEAPON

While Clint Barton was known for his skill and marksmanship with the bow, Ronin uses an entirely different set of weapons. We see a deadly looking katana that he wipes clean of blood on his tong, mirroring the various blades the character uses in the comics. Maya Lopez chose her weapons to match those of the Yakuza and the Hand, and Barton followed suit when he adopted the persona. Katanas, nunchucks and throwing stars replaced bow and arrows, though Clint was a skilled combatant using many weapons, having been initially trained by the villain known as the Swordmaster. It was also a means of further hiding his identity, as he was keeping a very low profile during the time he wore the Ronin identity.

11 RONIN REPRESENTS A DARK PERIOD FOR CLINT BARTON

When Bendis first took on the Avengers, he used Disassembled to upset the status quo to make way for his New Avengers. He did this by killing half the team due to the betrayal of longtime member Scarlet Witch. One of those deaths was Hawkeye, who sacrificed himself to take out a Kree starship. He was later resurrected by Scarlet Witch during the "House of M" event but decided to keep his return a secret. The Hawkeye identity was being used by the Young Avenger known as Kate Bishop, so Clint adopted the guise of Ronin, with Maya Lopez's blessing. Clint was forced to deal with reignited trauma over the death of his wife (Bobbi Morse AKA Mockingbird) after his own experience with mortality, furthering the dark persona he exhibited as Ronin.

10 BARTON USED RONIN TO DODGE THE SHRA

Following the events of the comic mini-series Civil War, the superhero community had been divided due to the S.H.I.E.L.D.-backed Superhuman Registration Act, which caused Barton to hide his identity and go underground with the New Avengers after his return. The SHRA actually exists in the MCU as well, albeit in a slightly different form. The Sokovia Accords introduced in Captain America: Civil War serves a similar purpose and attempts to force the Avengers to work under the government's authority instead of their own, splitting the team. This caused Hawkeye to pick a side and go against the government, which presumably leads to his eventual adoption of the Ronin identity.

9 RONIN LED THE NEW AVENGERS DURING DARK REIGN

Following the events of Secret Invasion, which saw the superpowered remains of the Skrull Empire face off against the combined forces of the New and Mighty Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and the Norman Osborn-led Thunderbolts. Osborn used the increased publicity to take command of S.H.I.E.L.D. and rebrand it as H.A.M.M.E.R., while also creating his own version of the Avengers. He was opposed by Clint, now in charge of the New Avengers, who had gone public with his identity as Ronin, launching his eventual return to the persona of Hawkeye following Osborn's defeat. Clint continued to share the Hawkeye identity with Kate Bishop, though that wasn't the end of Ronin.

8 HAWKEYE WAS NOT THE LAST RONIN

Longtime New Avenger Luke Cage departed the team after Secret Invasion in order to better take care of his family. However, he soon launched a new initiative known as the Mighty Avengers, which was soon pulled into a supernatural war between vampires. During this scuffle, they were assisted by a new hero wearing the Ronin uniform who was invited onto the team by Monica Rambeau AKA Spectrum. It was soon revealed that Eric Brooks AKA Blade was the half-vampire behind the mask, a lackluster reveal that most fans saw coming. The guise of Ronin was abandoned shortly after this was revealed, and Blade moved on from the team soon after the vampire situation was resolved.

7 A RONIN HAS A BLACK WIDOW CONNECTION

The identity of Ronin was still not done with, and soon a new mysterious character appeared during the Widowmaker miniseries. Hawkeye and Black Widow teamed up following the cancellations of their respective series to take on a new Ronin, who had killed his way to power in Bulgaria. This version of Ronin used a kusarigama as his primary weapon and was soon revealed to be Alexei Shostakov, a former KGB agent who was also known as Red Guardian, the Soviet's answer to Captain America. Shostakov was also married to former Russian spy Natasha Romanova AKA Black Widow. Widow eventually defected to the US to work with S.H.I.E.L.D. while Shostakov remained in his position as Red Guardian until he took on the Ronin identity.

6 RONIN HAS TIES TO A JAPANESE SECRET SOCIETY

When Shostakov first appeared as Ronin, he was working alongside a group known as the Dark Ocean Society. This is a real group from history that was considered to be an ultra-nationalist secret society known as "Gen'yōsha," which has an odd similarity to the mutant island of Genosha. The Gen'yōsha became a violent extremist organization in the 1900s that recruited ex-samurai and eventually even gained political power, before being disbanded by Americans during the Occupation of Japan after WWII. In the Widowmaker mini-series, the Dark Ocean Society is shown to have used the Ronin identity over the years when needed. This created an extended history for the character before Maya Lopez, who was originally considered to be the first iteration of Ronin.

5 ULTIMATE RONIN WAS ACTUALLY MOON KNIGHT

The Ultimate universe is an alternate reality that features a different, modernized take on classic Marvel heroes free from years of continuity. Brian Michael Bendis brought the character of Ronin into the Ultimate universe in the pages of Ultimate Spider-Man, though with a bit of a twist. This version of Ronin was actually Marc Spector, who is also the hero known as Moon Knight, who has a multiple personality disorder. In the Ultimate universe, Spector and his personalities created the Ronin persona to infiltrate Kingpin's organization. Unfortunately, they created too strong of a personality and Ronin took over their shared body to side with Kingpin, before being dealt a head wound that allowed Spector to regain control.

4 ANIMATED RONIN IS AN ENTIRELY ORIGINAL CHARACTER

In 2014 Walt Disney Japan released Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers, an anime that featured members of the Avengers that could be summoned by five teenagers using Digital Identity Securement Kits, or DISKs. The DISKs were created by Tony Stark and Dr. Nozomu Akatsuki, who is the father of two of the teens who can summon the trapped Avengers for short periods. Nozomu Akatsuki also appears as Ronin in the series and is the first known character to take on the identity that wasn't a previously established character. So far this version is the only animated representation of Ronin on the small screen.

3 THE RONIN COSTUME WAS SPOILED BY ENDGAME SET PICS

While most of the filming of Avengers: Endgame was kept tightly under wraps, there are always set leaks of some kind. Whether those were orchestrated or legitimate slips is unclear, but eagle-eyed paparazzi were able to snap photos of Jeremy Renner on set. He was wearing a robe to hide most of his costume, but the black and gold tong and kneepads were still visible below the robe, revealing the change in identity. While this evolution into Ronin had been rumored before, these set pics were early evidence that Ronin would be coming to the big screen, although the final reveal was handled so well it didn't feel spoiled.

2 RONIN COULD BE HAWKEYE'S INFINITY WAR JOURNEY

Avengers: Infinity War was the ultimate team-up movie that combined the rosters of the Avengers, along with newer heroes like Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, and the Guardians of the Galaxy. Yet when the movie hit there were a couple notable absences from the film that raised questions - Scott Lang and Clint Barton. Lang's whereabouts and house arrest after the events of Civil War were explained in Ant-Man and the Wasp, with the implication that Clint took a similar deal. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo revealed that Hawkeye was on his own journey during the events of Infinity War, does that mean he was operating as Ronin to avoid the Sokovia Accords? Or did he become Ronin after the Decimation?

1 RONIN COULD MEAN BAD NEWS FOR BARTON FAMILY

We're heading back to the Ultimate universe for this one, as that version of Hawkeye is really the only version of Hawkeye that is a family man. Joss Whedon adapted this aspect of Hawkeye for Avengers: Age of Ultron, which revealed his wife and two (soon to be three) children. This made for an effective bait-and-switch when Quicksilver died instead of Hawkeye, but it left a feeling of dread within fans. In the Ultimate Universe, Hawkeye and the Ultimates (that universe's version of the Avengers) were betrayed by Black Widow, and Hawkeye's entire family was murdered. Considering his new look as Ronin and the loss of so many during the Decimation, it's likely that Hawkeye's family was wiped out by Thanos. Clint Barton's Ronin could very well be more foe than friend to the Avengers at this point if he blames them for failing to stop Thanos.

Avengers: Endgame hits theaters on April 26, 2019. Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, Endgame stars Robert Downey Jr., Josh Brolin, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Olsen, Sebastian Stan, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Bettany, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Benedict Wong, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, Vin Diesel, Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Holland and Anthony Mackie.

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