Hawkeye’s Ronin Past Makes Him Crucial for MCU Phase 5

In Avengers: Endgame, it was revealed that Hawkeye coped with the loss of his family by taking on the mantle of Ronin and becoming a decidedly grim vigilante – a moral slip that makes him an intriguingly perfect fit as a mentor for the Young Avengers, a new generation of heroes currently being teased for Phase 5. Before the snap, he had already proven himself to be a positive father figure in the lives of his children, and a capable instructor, teaching his daughter to use a bow. When audiences next saw him, he was ruthlessly making his way through an entire gang of armed criminals, lashing out in pain and despair. This could well be a key element in forging him into the mentor figure that the Young Avengers would need.

With Clint Barton set to train Kate Bishop as a new Hawkeye and potential Young Avengers leader in the upcoming series Hawkeye, his role as a mentor figure will offer an opportunity for him to come to terms with his violent past, first as a SHIELD sniper, and then as a vigilante. Through teaching a protege other reasons to fight than simple bloody-minded vengeance, he will have a chance to re-learn that same lesson himself. Between his grief over the loss of his partner Black Widow and his guilt over his actions, the healing process promises to be a long road. Having to work through that process may allow him additional insight into the needs of others going through similar problems.

Beyond question, Hawkeye has been pushed to extremes as a character. Even if he deserves a quiet life, there’s a good reason not to leave Hawkeye retired in Phase 4: with a growing team that hasn’t yet made the mistakes that the original Avengers fell prey to, having a mentor that can speak to those mistakes could help to keep them mentally and emotionally healthy, always a desirable set of characteristics in the powerful. While Clint doesn’t have the impressive power array of his fellow original Avengers, this has usually left him comparatively grounded. Hawkeye has sometimes struggled to balance his life as a hero and a father – that experience could be invaluable for new heroes who might need that kind of balance in their own lives.

Hawkeye’s greatest contribution as a mentor, and as an Avenger has been his humanity: his stint at Ronin was showing him breaking emotionally for the first time in the way that he has regularly been banged up physically. The fact that Hawkeye is a human not a superhero means that the Young Avengers will have a chance to learn from someone who took all the same risks as Thor and Iron Man, but without the divine strength or the power armor. The fact that he can model for them what grief, loss, and injury look like, and the determination to recover and do the right thing after being so injured makes him an ideal teacher.

Tempered by grief, guilt, the horrors of mind-control and war, Hawkeye was hardened in a way that other heroes have not. With an origin story involving his sword skills debuting on Disney Plus, audiences will learn just how far he’s come. Having the quality of hard-earned growth in their mentor offers the Young Avengers a chance to learn about the depths to which they could be driven without having to go there themselves. Either way, Hawkeye’s time as Ronin in Avengers: Endgame have left him in an unparalleled position to pass along some valuable lessons.

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