Everyone Is Wrong About Hawkeye, And These 12 Classic Storylines Prove Why

Clint Barton doesn’t always get the spotlight he deserves in Marvel Comics, which is a shame because Hawkeye is a great Avenger, even if he never shows up at the top of anyone’s favorite character list. Think about this: Hawkeye is an excellent marksman; he’s awesome in hand-to-hand combat; and he has great one-liners that put him on part with all our favorite wisecracking heroes like Spider-Man and Deadpool.

Maybe Clint will never get to be front and center in the Marvel Universe, but he is still the focus of plenty of classic stories that showcase all that he’s about. So, the next time you get into a debate with a fellow comic fan who thinks Hawkeye has no place on the Avengers, show them this list and help get Hawkeye the respect he deserves.

1. In ‘Avengers’ Annual #16, Hawkeye Outwits The Grandmaster To Save The Universe

Avengers Annual #16 is kind of like Marvel Comics’ version of Mortal Kombat as the Grandmaster pits his peeps against Earth’s heroes in a contest of champions. Surprisingly, only Captain America and Hawkeye survive until the end.

Instead of continuing the fisticuffs, Hawkeye proposes a game to the Grandmaster that will decide the fate of the universe. He holds two arrows in his hands and asks him to guess which has an arrowhead. The Grandmaster chooses but gets it wrong. What’s utterly hilarious is Captain America’s shocked reaction when he realizes Hawkeye cheated and he wasn’t about to leave fate to chance. At least he didn’t challenge Grandmaster to a dance-off …

2. The Collector Got The Best Of Everyone Else In ‘Avengers’ #174, But Hawkeye Saved The Day

The Collector is a strange fellow. While other people collect stamps, vinyl records, or art, he prefers to collect creatures and people. In 1978’s Avengers #174, the Collector has successfully caught 13 past and present Avengers. Now, it’s up to Thor, Iron Man, Wasp, and Hawkeye to try and save their friends and put a stop to this weirdo.

The Collector manages to incapacitate Thor, Iron Man, and Wasp, leaving Hawkeye as the last man standing. The odds are against him, and the pressure to save his friends is insurmountable, but he never gives up, utilizing his electric-charged arrow to make the Collector suck eggs instead of collecting people. Hooray for Hawkeye!

3. Clint Started Up The ‘West Coast Avengers’ As A Way To Help Spread The Avengers’ Message Far And Wide

In any workplace, there are teams. Then there are teams of teams, as people create their own factions and offshoots. The same holds true for comic book super-groups. The Avengers, for example, have had several spinoff teams, including the West Coast Avengers.

The story behind the West Coast Avengers is simple: Vision believes the main group should be spreading their influence further, so Hawkeye gets the idea to start a new version of the team on the West Coast. As the founder and leader of this outfit, Clint Barton demonstrates a different leadership style to Tony Stark and Captain America, but he proves more than competent at keeping his peeps alive – well, for the most part.

4. Clint Knew He Wasn’t Living Up To The Captain America Shield So He Became Fan-Favorite Ronin Instead

Clint Barton isn’t the first person to use the Ronin mantle, but he may be the most popular person to adopt it. After Civil War and the presumed passing of Steve Rogers, Tony Stark convinces Clint to take up the shield and costume of Captain America, which he proves more than adept at. However, Clint soon realizes he isn’t standing for what Cap did and decides to take a page out of Elsa’s book and let it go.

Clint reappears as Ronin and as a part of the New Avengers team. Not only is Clint’s new costume cooler than Iceman at an ice cream convention, but he also demonstrates his lethal fighting abilities and magnificent sword use. Ronin is cool in the MCU, but he’s even better in Marvel Comics.

5. Clint Makes The Ultimate Sacrifice To Save Everyone In ‘Avengers: Disassembled’

In 2004’s “Avengers Disassembled” storyline, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes find themselves in a world of trouble. It appears as if their team is fracturing right in front of their eyes, though there’s the belief there are nefarious forces at play.

As all the members meet to discuss what’s happening, the Kree lay siege to Manhattan. Unfortunately, Hawkeye’s trick arrows are caught in the crossfire, and he knows they are about to blow. The Avenger isn’t going down without a fight, though, so he sets his sights on a Kree soldier wearing a jetpack and flies towards the ship, setting off the explosion as his last stand. He sacrifices his life to protect the city of Manhattan and all his friends. What a hero!

6. Clint’s Nefarious Past Put Him In Perfect Position To Become Leader Of The Thunderbolts

While Hawkeye might be known as a hero nowadays, he is introduced as a reluctant wrongdoer in his early Marvel Comics appearances. In fact, he falls head over heels for Black Widow, who flutters her eyelids and gets him to become an accomplice in their pilfering of Tony Stark’s tech. Eventually, Hawkeye sees the light and uses his marksmanship for a good cause as an Avenger.

Nonetheless, his history as someone on the wrong side of the law has helped him to think like a rogue would, too. Naturally, this helps him to relate and become the leader of the Thunderbolts – Marvel’s version of the Suicide Squad – on multiple occasions. 

7. The Matt Fraction/David Aja Run Run Of Hawkeye Comics Are Perfect Because They Focus On The ‘Just A Dude’ Of The Avengers

As the direct inspiration for the Hawkeye television series, Matt Fraction and David Aja’s 2015 Hawkeye run is like eye candy for comic book fans. Aja’s art stands out from the pack of other superhero titles, with a clean, minimalist approach that hits the spot much like the character himself.

Yet, it’s the contents of the series that transcend and humanize the person behind the superhero. Fraction focuses on who Clint Barton is when he isn’t fighting crime, such as how he saves a stray dog, spills coffee over himself, and becomes a mentor to Kate Bishop. Heck, there’s even an issue from the dog’s point of view, too. As Fraction told Comics Alliance: “He’s the ‘Just a Dude’ of the Avengers; these are those stories. About what he does and who he is when he isn’t punching the clock.” 

8. ‘Hawkeye: Freefall’ Came Along In 2020 To Remind Everyone Just How Great The Character Could Be On His Own

Hawkeye isn’t a classic hero in the sense of always sticking to the rules and telling kids to say their prayers and take their vitamins. More than once, he has shown that he isn’t afraid to employ dirty tactics if the end justifies the means, occasionally dipping his feet into antihero territory.

In 2020’s “Hawkeye: Freefall” by Matthew Rosenberg and Otto Schmidt, Clint Barton becomes outraged at how the justice system fails and allows the crook known as The Hood to get out of prison. Realizing he can’t take him down as Hawkeye, he reverts to the Ronin moniker to bring a world of pain on the villain. At the same time, to divert attention from himself being Ronin, he uses various methods to throw everyone off his scent. It had been a while since Clint had his own solo title, but Hawkeye: Freefall is another reminder of how Clint can still be a rich source of captivating stories.

9. Clint Can Get Weird And Change Things Up When Necessary And It’s Great

A change is as good as a holiday. Hawkeye isn’t like other superheroes who become precious about their costumes or codenames. He’s changed up his outfits on more than a few occasions, even dropping his infamous purple mask, much to the horror of longtime fans. Plus, he’s gone by the name of Ronin, too.

However, he had another two notable aliases in Marvel Comics. The first is Goliath, which he adopts after taking Hank Pym’s growth serum and becoming the opposite of Ant-Man. After ditching the Goliath moniker and returning to regular size, he reverts to Hawkeye and then takes on the name the Golden Archer for a mission where he pretends to be a bad guy while simply trying to get Captain America to rediscover his mojo. Comic book logic, right?

10. Hawkeye Shows Up As A Blind Swordsman In The Classic ‘Old Man Logan’ Storyline And He Still Kicks Butt

Mark Millar and Steve McNiven’s “Old Man Logan” storyline serves as the main inspiration for 2017’s Logan film. While its premise is largely about the aging Logan and how he deals with a new world where supervillains take over, Clint Barton is a central character in the story as well.

It’s Barton who hires the former Wolverine to help him deliver an important package, which turns out to be Super Soldier Serum. At this point in time, Barton has lost the use of his sight; however, his natural instincts and fighting abilities are still there. Someone might try to take a swing at Grandpa Barton, but he’ll break their nose before they have even clinched their fists. This version of the character proved so popular that he received his own in-universe series, Old Man Hawkeye.

11. In ‘Occupy Avengers,’ Clint Keeps His Promise To The Hulk And Goes Around The World Helping As Many People As He Can

In Marvel Comics, there wasn’t only one Civil War but two. In this second event, Hawkeye plays a pivotal role as he puts an arrow in Bruce Banner, revealing he had been asked by his friend to put him down if he ever lost control as the Hulk.

Clint Barton is haunted by his actions in Civil War II, though, so he does everything to make amends afterward. In 2016’s “Occupy Avengers” by David Walker and Carlos Pacheco, he goes around the world to communities and places where superheroes are usually not present. This is his way of righting his wrongs and giving back to everyone who needs assistance. If anything, it shows how huge his heart is.

12. In 2022’s ‘Avengers’ #60, Clint Proved He Is Slightly More Useful Than A Mailbox, Which Is Also Amazing

Sometimes, comics get a little weird. In 2022’s Avengers #60, Clint Barton meets a Celestial who tells him he will be judged and needs to justify his existence. Hawkeye argues with the Celestial posing as Black Widow, asking what the baseline is. The Celestial compares his existence to a mailbox, which is unfair since only 2015’s Fantastic Four film should be compared to such a thing.

What occurs afterward is a fairly humorous issue where Clint contemplates life and his meaning as a superhero, while constantly thinking back to how people love the mailbox. In the end, it’s shown he is slightly more valuable than a mailbox.