Heading into The Avengers, Jeremy Renner was at a distinct disadvantage. Most of his co-stars had already had one or two full movies to flesh out their super characters, and Mark Ruffalo was given a central role in the story to make up for being the third Bruce Banner to grace the big screen in a decade. Renner was also a two-time Oscar nominee about to be turned into a somnambulant archer.
“In the first Avengers … I was just getting to know who Hawkeye was, and then, zap, I go around like a zombie,” Renner recently told the audience at a London-based Q&A (via Radio Times). “I’m like Loki’s minion, and I’m still not even sure who Hawkeye was at that point, so I’m a little frustrated because I was so excited to figure out who Hawkeye was.”
Renner’s solution? Give Hawkeye a heart attack.
The actor revealed that he would act out heart attacks during takes to give Joss Whedon and company something to work with.
“I’m giving you an option,” he would tell Whedon. “If you just want to kick me out of this movie. Just, you know, at any given moment, if you wanna kill me off, daddy’s gonna be having a heart attack.”
It’s unclear why “Daddy’s gonna have a heart attack” didn’t become Hawkeye’s catchphrase, especially since Renner was given much more room to breathe in Age of Ultron (at least for a movie with 17 main characters). In the 2014 film, he was painted as an everyman figure with a supportive wife, children who miss him, and a blissful countryside homestead. It turned his supposed weakness as the least useful member of a super-powered team into the strength of being the closest thing they have resembling a normal human being.
The irony, of course, is that giving us a glimpse of his idyllic personal life would have been a perfect (and very Whedonian) setup for killing him later on. Probably of something more heroic than a freak heart failure. But Renner found out back in 2012 what we’ve all known for a long time: nobody with a multi-film contract ever dies in the Marvel universe. It’s a good thing Hawkeye didn’t, because the franchise is much better (and more grounded) with him in it. Now, Renner agrees.
“I don’t really want him to die now,” Renner said. “I really got to explore him a lot, and I can’t wait to explore him more, and there’s some really cool ideas coming up. Really cool ideas. Great deaths! Amazing ways to die.”
Featured Image: Disney/Marvel Studios