Despite Clint Barton’s stint as the bloodthirsty vigilante Ronin in Avengers: Endgame, he will return as a mentor figure to Kate Bishop in the upcoming Marvel Phase 4 Disney+ series Hawkeye. Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton had been a hero long before Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, and Captain America became official Avengers. Clint spared Natasha Romanoff’s life in Budapest before recruiting her and almost neutralized Thor (or almost killed him, according to What If…? episode 3) when the Asgardian god was banished to Earth by Odin. Although Hawkeye’s abilities are pedestrian compared to the other Avengers, he still managed to fight side by side with the most powerful beings in the universe multiple times and lived to tell the tale.
When the Avengers failed to prevent Thanos from decimating the universe, Hawkeye was one of the heroes who took the worst hit. He had come out of retirement to help Steve Rogers in Captain America: Civil War and got house arrest as a result. He then took that as an opportunity to enjoy his long-awaited retirement with his family, but all his loved ones were disintegrated around him after Thanos’ snap. Clint was overtaken with a desire for vengeance and traveled to Japan to become Ronin, a bloodthirsty assassin who took law into his own hands. Soon enough, he returned to help the Avengers defeat Thanos, but not without first sacrificing Natasha Romanoff to achieve it.
Clint Barton deserves to leave superhero affairs in the past and live a peaceful life, but it’s necessary to remember that Natasha Romanoff died in front of his eyes to save the universe, and he won’t let that memory or its meaning go away so easily. Hawkeye wouldn’t let her sacrifice go to waste in a moment when Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, and Black Widow aren’t there to help, much less when a new generation of heroes and villains will fill the vacuum left by Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania may be the inception of the Young Avengers, and Clint could play a crucial role in their training during Phase 4. Clint’s role beyond Hawkeye is not yet known, but he will definitely contribute by training Kate Bishop, who takes over as the new Hawkeye in the comics and in the upcoming Disney+ series.
In the comics, Hawkeye’s protégé, Kate Bishop, chased her position in the Young Avengers. Like Clint Barton, she didn’t get her abilities from a mutant gene or a freak accident, but by sheer skill and disciplined training. The first full-length Hawkeye trailer has confirmed that the Disney+ series will follow the source material very closely, with Clint finding himself forced to tutor Kate not only because of her persistence but also because he feels responsible as an established hero. Although S.H.I.E.L.D. has disappeared, it was Nick Fury who recruited Clint Barton and protected his family while he worked with the organization. Clint’s last job in the MCU could be to pay it back and seek redemption for his time as Ronin.
The Hawkeye trailer also connects Kate Bishop with Ronin, as it appears that she’s inspired not exactly by the archer Avenger, but instead by his murderous alter ego. Clint first gets to know about Kate Bishop when a Ronin wannabe fights street-level criminals, and only when he confronts the mysterious figure is that he realizes that she’s the one under the mask. So, not only will Clint Barton take up the role of mentor to help his admirer survive the difficulties of crime-fighting but also will try to do his best because his name and legacy are on the line. If he allows Ronin copycats to roam free, it’s likely that his name will be tarnished not long after his definitive retirement. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier presented a similar issue with John Walker aka US Agent embodying the worst aspects of the Captain America iconography and with the Flag-Smashers going from a group of freedom fighters to a terrorist organization.
The launch of the multiverse and the arrival of villains like Kang the Conqueror (who united Kate Bishop and the Young Avengers in the comics) calls for the support of more experienced heroes. Doctor Strange will be busy mentoring Peter Parker in Spider-Man: No Way Home and possibly Wanda Maximoff in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Thor will be far away fighting Gorr the God Butcher in Thor: Love and Thunder, Hulk will be helping Jennifer Walters in She-Hulk, War Machine will have to deal with the conflict of Armor Wars, and Nick Fury will be crucial to Secret Invasion. The least Clint Barton could do is to remain active and offer his support to the new heroes of the MCU’s Phase 4.
Hawkeye has suffered more than enough in the MCU. Yet, his help in Phase 4 would come in handy to keep the world safe. Avengers: Endgame might have broken him, but what he does with that pain will determine whether he’s defined by the time he spent as a hero or the crimes he committed as Ronin. And with Kate Bishop bringing Clint’s best and worst traits to the forefront in Hawkeye, it’s the perfect time for him to establish what makes him one of the most essential Avengers.