This week marks the arrival of the first comic to spin out of for Mark Millar and Steve McNiven’s 2007 Old Man Logan not to star, well, Old Man Logan. Instead of being about the grizzled Wolverine in a terrible dystopia, the series focuses on Old Man Hawkeye, an aged version of Clint Barton on the precipice of losing his vision and deciding to avenge fallen friends before he’s permanently unable to see.
In the original Old Man Logan, Clint had been blind for years, though he was no less deadly. Like Matt Murdock, he had something of a radar sense and remained armed with his trusty bow and arrow, plus a katana for close range encounters. With that apocalyptic universe being what it was, Clint met his end at the story’s penultimate issue, having been shot between the eyes by undercover S.H.I.E.L.D. agents.
All things considered, he’s a strange character to launch a miniseries for. While Hawkeye fans love both Clint (and his younger fellow Hawkeye Kate Bishop), it isn’t like this aged version was brought up much on social media or as a supporting character in the comics of other heroes. Unlike the older Logan, Old Man Hawkeye didn’t participate on Battleworld during Secret Wars, nor has he even been hinted at somehow surviving the fusion of various Marvel worlds. But then again, neither did Ultimate Wolverine Jimmy Hudson until X-Men Blue, so we can’t entirely rule out the possibility an Older Clint is somehow, somewhere, alive and kicking.
What if, then, the inspiration for this series came not from the comics, but from Hollywood? It’s been all but officially confirmed that Hawkeye will adopt the Ronin identity at some point, but could Avengers: Infinity War or its still unnamed sequel also feature this take on Jeremy Renner’s hero? At some point, Thanos will acquire all the Infinity Stones, including Doctor Strange’s Time Stone. All he would have to do is decide to age Clint to the point where he’s no longer a viable threat. It’d be a darkly funny moment from Thanos, yes, but also thematically appropriate: Clint more or less acts and grouses like an old man in Age of Ultron and Civil War to begin with, so why not make him look the part as well? Of all the original Avengers that you could do suddenly age up, even if for a short while, he’d be the most logical.
It’s pretty much accepted by fans at this point that Marvel uses its comics as testing grounds for potential multimedia ideas. Case in point, Old Man Hawkeye’s first issue comes a week after Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s last episode featured Flint, an Inhuman created from Charles Soule’s Inhuman run back in 2013. Some comic creations make the leap to the MCU more quickly than others, so it wouldn’t be a huge shock if Old Man Hawkeye was a soft run to get folks used to the idea of an older, more unlucky Clint before he’s kicking butt in either Infinity War film.
Should an older Clint be in the cinematic cards, it would easily set the MCU up to bring in Kate Bishop. Renner, all things considered, is just fine at portraying Hawkeye, but it’s doubtful that he’ll ever actually get the solo movie or TV show that he wants for his character. Kate, however, is a character fans have wanted to see come brought to life for some time now, and with Renner’s contract presumably coming to an end with the Infinity War films, this would be the perfect opportunity to have him pass the mantle on. Just as Tony Stark proved to be something of a mentor to Peter Parker in Spider-Man Homecoming, so too can Clint for Kate. Should his potential aging be permanent, that would be a clever way to keep him as a presence in the MCU without outright killing him off, in case the studio decided to bring him back around for something at a late point.
Of course it’s also possible, if not more than likely, that Old Man Hawkeye is just a fun comic. Since Occupy Avengers ended last year, Clint hasn’t been seen much, with his most recent appearances being in Kate’s solo Hawkeye book and a supporting role in Avengers’ new event storyline, “No Surrender.” But the release of this book in relative proximity to Infinity War is too intriguing to ignore. There are going to be some big shakeups in the MCU when all things are said and done. Why can’t one of them be that its resident archer finally looks like the grumpy old man he’s always been inside?
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