After 10 years, 18 films, and a cinematic universe that may have changed the face of mainstream cinema forever, the battle to end all battles is almost here with the impending release of Avengers: Infinity War. But in the lead-up to the newest entry in the MCU, one question has been on a lot of fans' minds: where is Hawkeye? Marvel's archer has been conspicuously absent from all press materials, promotion, and most noticeably trailers for Avengers: Infinity War. We have a theory just why that might be... could Clint Barton have actually been replaced by a SKRULL?
What's a Skrull, you ask? First introduced by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee in Fantastic Four #2, this villainous race of alien shapeshifters have been causing havoc in the Marvel Universe for almost six decades. Long thought to be lost to Fox due to the sale of the Fantastic Four and their impressive rogues gallery, Marvel shocked fans when they announced that the Skrulls would feature heavily in Captain Marvel. Their inclusion in Carol's story makes a lot of sense, as she got her powers from a Kree superhero called Mar-Vell, and in the comics the Kree and Skrulls are constantly at war. So what does any of this have to do with Hawkeye?
Well, the Skrulls have a history of taking the shape of famous superheroes—we'll get to that a little bit later—and Hawkeye's prominent absence and history make him a prime candidate to be the first Skrull in the MCU. Hawkeye has proven himself susceptible to brainwashing and mind control before. As we saw in the first Avengers movie, Hawkeye was easily controlled by Loki's Scepter (which contained the Mind Stone) and in turn aided Loki, the Chitauri, and ultimately Thanos. Could it be that during this period Clint was replaced by a Skrull? In the comics, Skrulls have been known to take on the identities of heroes for a long time without their families and friends knowing, so it's not too hard to believe that Clint may have been replaced and his replacement could be about to introduce the Skrulls into the MCU.
The Russo brothers have been fielding a lot of questions about the apparent absence of the purple-suited archer. During interviews on set of Avengers: Infinity War, the Russos were quick to state that Hawkeye is "on his own journey in this movie." Could that journey be the real Clint attempting to escape captivity onboard a Skrulls ship—where they kept their prisoners in the comic—to help the Avengers foil the impending threat of a full-on Skrull invasion?
Though Skrulls have been in the comics since the '60s when they were introduced to the Marvel Universe, they'll likely be used in a plot similar to Secret Invasion crossover event, a 2008 miniseries by Brian Michael Bendis and Leinil Francis Yu. The eight-issue story revealed that the Skrulls had replaced multiple important figures in the Marvel Universe over many years in an attempt to destabilize Earth and make it their own. We know the Skrulls are being introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and after Marvel Studios used their Ultimate universe analogues for the Skrulls—the Chitauri—as a replacement for the famed aliens in Phase One, they're going to have to do something impactful with the new additions, and Secret Invasion makes a lot of sense.
There's also the fact that Hawkeye is the only Avenger who doesn't have any actual superpowers or superpowered tech at his disposal. As the most human of the Avengers, doing a story focused on him being replaced gives the filmmakers a chance to explore the most heroic qualities of humanity in the MCU. Along with that, there's also the point to be made that Hawkeye never found the fandom of the other stars of the Avengers. This could be the chance for the Russos to center him in a story that matters while not upsetting too many people that their fave has actually been an evil alien for a really long time. With the introduction of the Skrulls we're pretty sure that Secret Invasion will make up a large part of Phase Four, and the mysteriously missing Hawkeye seems like a prime candidate to be the trigger.
How do you feel about the potential alien invasion? Are we reaching further than one of Hawkeye's trick arrows? Are we totally wrong and it's actually Tony? Hit us up and let us know!
Images: Marvel Studios, Marvel Comics