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What does Hawkeye’s new look mean for the Avengers?

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Edgy, hip, midlife crisis Clint Barton

I am still trying to process how I feel about this, stand by
Disney

The latest glimpse of Avengers: Endgame packed a wallop into a single minute: the remaining Avengers united and swearing to fight for what they have left, Pepper and Tony reuniting against all odds, glimpses of Avengers HQ and the Guardians’ spaceship, the return of Thanos (presumably preparing for a ... different kind of battle). But most importantly — and most shockingly — Clint Barton has a full sleeve tattoo.

While Cap searches for meaning by gazing at his chiseled reflection and Black Widow sulks in the rain, Hawkeye leans on a glass pane with all the swagger of a high school sophomore skipping class to skateboard behind the cafeteria dumpsters, and flexes his new sleeve.

Hawkeye’s look in Avengers: Endgame is decidedly edgier than his previous iterations. The first trailer debuted a darker and grittier costume and a pivot from his bow and arrows to a sword. The second, a new punk haircut (MOHAWKEYE). Now — a full sleeve of tats.

And it’s sent the internet into a tizzy.

While some felt their souls awakened by Clint’s daring and bold new look, others were confused. Between his family presumably getting snapped, and reconvening with the other Avengers to plan Thanos’ takedown, when did he have time to get a full tattoo sleeve?

And more importantly, why?

Perhaps the answer lies not in the fact Hawkeye got a tattoo, but just what type of tattoo it is.

Computer — enhance!

Bench me, Clint
Disney

We can see the vague outline of something resembling a dragon’s tail on Hawkeye’s forearm, as well as a skeleton samurai warrior. It’s heavily Eastern Asian-inspired, which fits with the glimpses of Clint in Japan that we got from the first trailer.

After the snap and the presumed destruction of his family, did Hawkeye go on an Eat, Pray, Love journey to find himself in East Asia? Or did this happen earlier, sometime between Civil War and Endgame, since we really haven’t seen Hawkeye in the MCU since Civil War?

After the homey sequence on his family’s farm in Age of Ultron, Clint got tangled up in the events of Captain America: Civil War out of respect and loyalty to Wanda Maximoff, ended up in prison, and Cap busted him out. The end of the movie saw him cut a deal with the authorities and retire from the life of superheroics, returning to his farmhouse to live out the rest of his days with his family. Because of that, it’s unlikely that this journey of self-discovery happened before the events of Infinity War.

But the new look, new weapon, and new attitude are reminiscent of a dark time in comic Clint Barton’s life.

Endgame’s darker, edgier Hawkeye falls in line with one of Clint Barton’s alternate identities in the comics: Ronin. Barton assumed this identity after returning from the dead (long story) and found that a young woman named Kate Bishop had taken his place as Hawkeye. In order to give the world (and himself) some space, he took up the samurai sword and a new costume instead of his old duds.

We aren’t entirely sure if Clint’s family got snapped, though a brief, teary flashback in the second trailer to Clint teaching a young girl how to use a bow and arrow would seem to confirm it. Spurred by the loss, it looks like Clint heads to Japan to learn how to become Ronin and ... somewhere along the lines finds a fresh barber to give him a mohawk(eye) and a solid tattoo artist to prick up a sleeve. Clint’s Ronin identity in the comics didn’t have tattoos or a mohawk, but Clint also doesn’t have kids in the comics: Nothing says mid-life crisis like a dad tattoo, eh?

We’ll get a full glimpse of Hawkeye’s alternative, edgy look when Avengers: Endgame hits theaters on April 26.