Yes, I know, I know. A few weeks ago, the Vision was the ultimate Avenger. But he’s not the only Avenger that’s ever embodied the ideal of the team. With the renewed focus on Hawkeye in Age of Ultron, let me tell you why Clinton Francis Barton is the ultimate Avenger.
Of all the Avengers, it’s hard to argue that anyone came from a more difficult upbringing than Clint. Orphaned in a drunk driving accident, Clint and his brother Barney bounced from foster home to foster home until they finally had enough and ran away. They joined a travelling circus, where they met the Swordsman and Trick Shot. Clint and Barney were trained by the two, and both became skilled fighters and archers.
Clint attempted to become a costumed hero, inspired by Iron Man, but was mistakenly branded an outlaw, and was forced into a life of crime by the Black Widow. He wanted to reform, and asked Iron Man’s help to do so. He soon joined the Avengers as a member of “Cap’s kooky quartet”, and had to fight almost instantly to dispel his criminal past.
Years later, after he had met and eloped with his wife, Bobbi “Mockingbird” Morse, he was forced to fight her by hypersonic hypnosis. Yeah, that’s kind of weird, but there was a great (for the readers) consequence- he lost hearing in one ear. Still, he went on to lead the West Coast Avengers.
And near the end of his tenure with the “Wackos”, Mephisto and Satannish kidnapped Bobbi (who had been replaced by a Skrull, but that’s just too complicated to get into). The AWC followed, and attempted to rescue her, however she was killed as they escaped Hell. Naturally, he left to mourn, but he did eventually return to the Avengers.
Every time he was faced with a great obstacle, he rose above it, a true mark of an Avenger.
Mark(sman) of a Leader
There have been a variety of satellite and spin-off teams from the Avengers- Young, New, Mighty, the Academy... The first, and perhaps still the greatest was the West Coast branch. When it came time to organize that team the Vision, chairman of the East Coast branch, went right to one man- Hawkeye.
Clint led the team until Bobbi’s “death” (sometimes unofficially) with only a few short breaks.
Later, after the Onslaught Crisis, Clint rejoined the East Coast team, but found himself leaving shortly afterwards to join, and lead, the Thunderbolts. The team, formerly the Masters of Evil, had betrayed their leader, Baron Zemo, and helped save the world from his plan. However, the members of the team were still wanted felons, and at that point were on the run from authorities.
Clint saw their potential, especially after his own criminal history and redemption. Under his leadership, the Thunderbolts went from being the Masters of Evil, to essentially becoming another team of Avengers. Several members actually were revealed to become future Avengers and heroes in their own right. If it hadn’t been for Hawkeye, that wouldn’t have happened.
His next leadership stint came during the “dark reign” of Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers. Although Luke Cage had organized the team, Clint found himself slipping into the leadership role until it was made official with a unanimous vote. Under the guise of Ronin, he lead the team’s PR campaign against Osborn, and actually attempted to assassinate the former Green Goblin.
Finally, after Steve Rogers returned to the role of Captain America, Steve needed to find someone to lead the Secret Avengers, a black ops team he founded. He turned to one of the only men he felt he could trust- Clint. He successfully lead the team against several threats, including Bagalia, a country run by the Masters of Evil, and Father, a malevolent scientist specializing in artificial intelligence.
Although he was the “anti-establishment” member of the team at first, he became an asset to the point that he’s become one of the team’s greatest leaders.
Strength of Character and Strength of Will
It’s often said that Hawkeye is just a guy with arrows, and yet he’s right in the middle of all of the dangers the Avengers are in. For some, that’s reason enough that he SHOULDN’T be a member. However, it’s a perfect example of why he should.
He doesn’t have the training of Black Widow. He doesn’t have a super solider serum running through his veins. He doesn’t have a suit of nigh-indestructible armor. He’s an ordinary guy with a bow and arrow. Yet, he still wakes up in the morning, throws his quiver over his shoulder, and saves the world.
In fact, he’s continued to do this while battling the same insecurities that his detractors point out. But he does it anyways. He’s an ordinary human, but he still gets out there and faces down monsters like Thanos, and Ultron.
He’s just plain a good guy to have around
He’s the team’s comic relief more often than not. He’s quick with a quip as much as he is with his quiver, breaking the tension of horrible situations.
He bought his apartment building, just to prevent a group of gangsters, the Tracksuit Draculas (bro), from forcing his neighbors out of their homes. And after that, he always held an impromptu barbecue for those neighbors.
He adopted a one-eyed dog he named Lucky after rescuing him from the aforementioned Tracksuits (bro).
He’s an honestly good guy, doing good things for deserving people.
And when it comes down to it, THAT is why he’s the ultimate Avenger.