A recent exposé was posted two weeks ago on 4chan by a leaker who begged to remain anonymous. That leak claims Clint Barton is next in line to retire from avenging, with Disney+ miniseries Hawkeye scheduled to be Jeremy Renner’s long-overdue swan song from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Overdue, considering the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes’ resident archer has been meaning to hang up his bow as early as Captain America: Civil War.
Marvel let slip some time ago that Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye will be deaf in his first (and apparently last) solo outing as a superhero, a trait consistent with almost every comics iteration of the purple-themed Robin Hood. This would make Thor the only founding Avenger still alive and perfectly suited for combat. Avengers: Endgame witnessed the end of an era, with two founders dead, one crippled, and another vaguely retired by the conclusion of the Infinity Saga. Hawkeye and Thor are the only ones still active, with Dr. Banner implied to have mostly retired from the Hulk’s more physically demanding activities.
The mystery insider also asserts there will be two secondary antagonists for Jeremy Renner to battle. First up is the upcoming Black Widow film’s Taskmaster and a new contender known only as the Swordsman. In the comics, the Swordsman’s alter-ego is a would-be swashbuckler named Jacques Duquesne, a member of Hawkeye’s small, but memorable, rogues gallery. Duquesne tried to join the Avengers once, for purely superficial reasons, but was rightfully denied entry. Better Call Saul’s Tony Dalton will be playing the Swordsman opposite Jeremy Renner in Hawkeye.
The main villain of Jeremy Renner’s show will be the men and women behind scientific think tank A.I.M. — and if that sounds familiar, you’re right. A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics) first made its appearance in Iron Man 3 as megalomaniac Aldrich Killian’s corporate baby. Killian (played by Guy Pearce) repurposed the organization to fund the Extremis virus; he targeted war veterans and made them test subjects, only to use them against Tony Stark. In the comics, A.I.M. famously created M.O.D.O.K., a psionic nightmare originally mutated from the body of A.I.M. employee George Tarleton. A M.O.D.O.K. animated show starring Patton Oswalt as the titular villain currently has a May 21 release date and will come out on Hulu. A.I.M. also developed a copy of the all-powerful, reality-bending Cosmic Cube, though how that would tangle with the MCU’s version of the Tesseract is really anyone’s guess. Unlike the MCU Tesseract, the Cosmic Cube is not secretly the Space Stone.
The leaker caps off the Hawkeye exposé by adding John Walker, recently dubbed U.S. Agent, will be making an appearance in the show. Jeremy Renner’s Barton is initially recruited by Walker to join his team, but decides to retire instead. Kate Bishop will be taking his place in the last episode.
John Walker first appeared in Falcon and the Winter Soldier as the U.S. government’s choice for Steve Rogers’s successor, and clashed with Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson over ownership of the shield. Walker, played brilliantly by Black Mirror’s Wyatt Russell, was portrayed as a well-meaning, but terribly flawed, military man just hoping to do good. Flabbergasted by society’s towering expectations of his new role as Captain America, Walker gradually loses his sanity, only to overcome his demons in the final episode and triumphantly come out on the other side.
Hawkeye’s involvement with John Walker is indicative of the latter’s much-awaited turn to the light side, given that Jeremy Renner’s Barton once allied with Steve Rogers in Civil War and would never be caught dead associating with a madman. Though whether Bishop decides to keenly follow in her mentor’s footsteps remains to be seen. Will she be a hero like Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton or an anti-hero like John Walker? The leaker didn’t specify, but perhaps that’s one plot twist we’d rather be left unspoiled.
Marvel Studios takes non-disclosure agreements seriously; as a result, leaks are few and far between. The inside joke (which is truer to form for Disney than you might think) is that Marvel runs its information brigade like a police state: nothing comes out, not unless executives say so. MCU actors with a tendency to be chatty are left out of the loop on purpose — as was the case with Tom Holland — in a last-ditch effort to keep confidentiality clauses intact. But sometimes, an occasional industry pro (or poorly compensated assistant) manages to bypass protocol and expose relevant spoilers to the Internet at the risk of being blackballed, and as fans and journalists, we couldn’t be more grateful. Whistleblowers have provided the public with alternate ways of securing information since the printing press was invented; such mettle is particularly invaluable in show business where rumors are fans’ only source of insight in the absence of official updates. So thanks to this leaker, assuming the information revealed about Jeremy Renner turns out to be true.
Hawkeye stars Vera Farmiga, Fra Fee, Tony Dalton, Zahn McClarnon, Brian d’Arcy James, Alaqua Cox, and Jeremy Renner as Barton and Hailee Steinfeld as Bishop. Florence Pugh is rumored to take on Natasha Romanoff’s mantle of Black Widow, reprising the role of Yelena Belova from the upcoming film. Cox will be playing deaf Native American superhero Echo, otherwise known as Maya Lopez, in her debut appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The character was already green-lit to feature in her own solo TV show, also titled Echo, allegedly alongside Matt Murdock/Daredevil (Charlie Cox) from the Marvel-Netflix series.