Hawkeye isn’t usually the first person people think of when they think of the Avengers. That honor usually belongs to someone like Captain America, or Iron Man. What can a guy who shoots arrows do when aliens are invading New York City? At first glance, it may be difficult to understand exactly what it is about Hawkeye that warrants an Avengers membership.

However, it’s exactly these perceived shortcomings that make Hawkeye perfect for a solo Netflix series. Hawkeye a.k.a. Clint Barton is the most human superhero because he doesn’t have any powers. While his coworkers have healing factors and super-strength, Clint has to spend weeks in the hospital.

He’s (self-admittedly) bad at keeping a serious relationship and afraid of commitment, but dedicated and hardworking. Clint’s relationship with his protege Kate Bishop is now an essential and enjoyable part of his character. Most importantly, Hawkeye is a “normal” guy who managed to achieve what the majority of normal people couldn’t, and excel at it.

Hawkeye in the Avengers
We all need to appreciate Clint Barton more. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Clint Barton Started as a Villain

When Hawkeye debuted in TALES TO ASTONISH #57 in 1964, he was a villain. Albeit, a reluctant villain, but a villain nonetheless. Clint fell in love with Natasha Romanoff, otherwise known as Black Widow, and agreed to help her steal technology from Tony Stark. The pair escaped when Iron Man seriously injured Natasha during the battle. Natasha abandoned Clint shortly after and from that point on, he decided to become, literally, a “straight shooter.”

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Tales from a Carnie Childhood

Clint Barton grew up in an abusive household with his older brother, Barney. When his alcoholic father kills himself and his mother in a drunk driving accident, Clint and his brother bounce from orphanage to orphanage for years. After another foster parent turns out to be abusive as well, the brothers run away and join the Carson Carnival of Travelling Wonders. In the ALL-NEW HAWKEYE (2015) run, it’s revealed that the members of the carnival stepped up and protected the boys from being forced to return to their terrible living conditions.

Jacques Duquesne, the Swordsman, takes the boys under his wing while they’re part of the circus. The Swordsman and fellow carnie Trick Shot teach Clint archery, recognizing his aptitude for the sport and the opportunity to turn him into a new carnival act. However, things go awry when Clint discovers his beloved mentor is embezzling from the circus. A good Samaritan at heart, Clint attempts to alert the authorities. Unfortunately, the Swordsman beats him nearly to death and then leaves town. 

The Swordsman, Hawkeye's first villain.
This guy definitely looks like a father figure I’d want to have. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Clint remains with the circus once he recovers and adopts the name Hawkeye, known to all as “The World’s Greatest Marksman.” After migrating to the Coney Island Circus, Clint witnesses Iron Man in action and aspires to become a superhero. Cue the brief villain interlude with Black Widow. In the aftermath, Clint actively works to earn goodwill and clear his name. Honestly, this backstory is enough for a whole season’s worth of TV.

Hawkeye Offers a Chance for Representation

Despite his current portrayal in the MCU, Hawkeye is, at the moment, canonically deaf in the comics. ALL-NEW HAWKEYE (2015) alluded that Clint’s father struck him as a child it damaged his hearing, leaving him partially deaf. A later encounter with Crossfire left the archer 80% deaf.

Franklin Richard (the incredibly powerful son of Sue Storm and Reed Richards) restored Clint’s hearing on his Counter-Earth. Admittedly, this era is not the highest representation of a deaf character. Tony Stark gives Hawkeye hearing aids that work like magic, requiring no imaginative storytelling for the character. Soon after, writers eliminated Clint’s deafness from his storyline.

HAWKEYE (2012) volume four by Matt Fraction and David Aja features a newly deaf Hawkeye. After a bloody fight with the Clown, Clint is wholly deaf and requires hearing aids. There’s an entire issue of the comic dedicated to untranslated sign language that is still entirely understandable for non-ASL speakers.

As a kid, Clint learned to read lips to supplement his damaged hearing. After the Clown pierces his eardrums, Clint has a difficult time adjusting to, as well as being reluctant to utilize, ASL and lip reading. Blank speech bubbles depict Clint’s new reality. When someone turns their head or wears a mask, there is no text accompanying the bubble. In addition to this, lip reading isn’t a perfect solution to all of his problems. Clint has trouble accurately discerning the words, often filling them in with a few different possibilities.

Hawkeye and ASL
Clint is reluctant at first. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

It’s an unfortunate reality that people who have never experienced hearing loss underestimate the Deaf community and deaf people, or perceive them to be lacking something “essential.” That’s not true at all — and it’s why they deserve more characters that reflect their nuanced experiences.

Kate Bishop. ’Nuff said.

Kate Bishop is Hawkeye. Not Hawkgirl, or Hawkingbird, but Hawkeye. The other and (as it is often joked) better Hawkeye. Kate Bishop debuted in 2005 in the YOUNG AVENGERS comic. Like her mentor, Kate is just an average girl who decided she wanted to do something to help save the world.

Kate is estranged from her family, especially her father, considering he’s an actual supervillain. When she was a kid, Kate was kidnapped by one of her father’s enemies. She nearly managed to escape on her own, until a henchman almost grabbed her. Hawkeye saved her by shooting an arrow into her pursuer. Initially, Kate works with no official code name. However, after helping save the world from Kang the Conqueror, Captain America gives Kate the presumed dead Clint’s old bow and arrows, encouraging her to take up the mantle.

Kate Bishop and Clint Barton
You don’t stand a chance. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Kate and Clint meet officially in YOUNG AVENGERS PRESENTS #6. Clint gives Kate his blessing to be Hawkeye and later takes her on as his protege. The pair has a mentor-mentee relationship that has developed into a strong familial bond. Clint considers Kate his best friend and one of the single successful relationships he’s managed to keep. For Kate, Clint represents everything about why she wanted to become a hero in the first place. If you’re going to tell a story about Clint Barton, Kate Bishop has become a necessary addition to the character.

Beyond her relationship with Clint, Kate has plenty adventures of her own. Currently, she’s working as a private eye/superhero in L.A., establishing her own claim to the Hawkeye name after the events of CIVIL WAR II. Any YOUNG AVENGERS comic, as well as the current HAWKEYE (2016) title, details Kate’s solo adventures.

Kate Bishop Hawkeye
Kate is totally gonna take over L.A. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Run is Critically Acclaimed

If there was any story that was perfect to adapt to the small screen, it’s Matt Fraction and David Aja’s 2012 HAWKEYE run. Marvel’s Netflix series have already established themselves to be particularly adept at tackling “smaller” heroes with specific stories to tell.

The comic details Clint’s life when he’s not on crazy, world-ending missions with the Avengers. The story is small-scale and revolves predominantly around Clint’s Brooklyn apartment building. In the first issue, Clint ticks off the Russian mob and has to fend them off from attacking the building and its residents. Occasionally, Clint also goes off on a few superhero missions with Kate Bishop, busting a fraudulent circus and going toe-to-toe with Madame Masque and her henchmen.

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The series is complete and doesn’t require a ton of outside knowledge about other Marvel comics for it to be enjoyable. In addition to this, the comic received critical acclaim. The series received several Harvey and Eisner awards for Best Writer, Best New Series, and Best Continuing or Limited Series.

Plus, there’s an entire issue from the point of view of a dog. What’s not to love about that?

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