Avengers: Infinity War was the largest-ever gathering of Marvel superheroes, but there were still a few notable absences.
Paul Rudd's Ant-Man was getting stuck in a Quantum Realm off-screen, while Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye was on house arrest at his farmhouse with wife Laura and their three children. The first trailer for the follow-up film, Avengers: Endgame, sees the return of both Ant-Man and Hawkeye. But while the former is his usual goofy self, the latter looks irrevocably changed and has assumed a new identity.
Part of the journey is the end. pic.twitter.com/vejn1Bx8Nz
â€” Marvel Studios (@MarvelStudios) December 7, 2018
Marvel Comics fans may recognize Hawkeye's new persona: He's transformed into Ronin, the alter ego he took on after dying in the comics. In that story, the new identity was a way of protecting himself after his resurrection. But in Endgame, Ronin appears to have a darker origin. As Captain America says in a voiceover, "We lost, all of us. We lost friends. We lost family. We lost part of ourselves."
Those words play over a shot of Clint Barton as Ronin, with a new suit and a new Samurai-like weapon. He has taken someone down in the streets of what looks like Tokyo, and turns to face Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, who has tracked him down (maybe to recruit him for whatever mission she and Steve are planning). The two friends share a pained look. She appears frightened at what he's become, while his expression is one of sadness, possibly grief. If the Avengers lost family, as Steve implied, does this mean Clint's wife and children turned to dust when Thanos snapped his finger and eliminated half of the world's population?
That seems like the likeliest answer, and sets us up for an even darker sequel than we might have expected (and we already thought it looked bleak). It also leads us to wonder what happened to Clint between the snap and the present. In the comics, he isn't the first person to wear the Ronin gear. That was Maya Lopez, a deaf Avenger, who first appeared as the character to investigate the Silver Samurai in Wakanda. Clint's Ronin appearance appears less altruistic. Slain bodies are all around him when Black Widow tracks him down, and his absence from the core Avengers shows that he's working on his own, under mysterious terms.
Hawkeye hasn't had much of the spotlight in other MCU films. He's been on the sidelines, but his story's never been pushed under the microscope like Tony's or Steve's. Will Clint's path in Endgame be the standalone movie we'll never get otherwise?We're not sure just yet how Hawkeye got to Japan or who he's working for--or if he's working for anyone other than himself--but Clint's transition is one of the things we're most excited to see played out when Avengers: Endgame hits theaters April 26, 2019.