Jeremy Renner Says In 'The Avengers' Hawkeye Is "Not The Character I Signed On To Play"

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by Kevin Jagernauth
August 8, 2012 2:12 PM
27 Comments
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As much as we enjoyed "The Avengers," one of our disappointments in the film is how thoroughly wasted Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye is. As we wrote in our breakdown of the superhero movie earlier this year, "…as soon as we meet him properly in 'The Avengers,' he's immediately turned to the dark side, a personality-free zombie serving Loki. He's eventually turned back, but the fact that we've never been that invested in him in the first place means that his return doesn't serve as some grand victory. It's presumably been done to give Black Widow some emotional investment in the whole thing, but it's hard not to feel that sidelining him is a waste of Renner's talents." And it would appear that Renner, to a certain degree, agrees.

Chatting with Hero Complex, the actor talks at length about working on "The Avengers," and is fairly candid about the fact Hawkeye didn't have much depth or dimension. At least not how he envisioned the character would be. "At the end of the day, 90% of the movie, I’m not the character I signed on to play. I’m literally in there for two minutes, and then all of a sudden…So there’s not a lot of back story or understanding we can really tell about who Clint Barton is, or Hawkeye, and is he working for SHIELD or not. There’s a lot of unanswered questions, even for me. And I was OK with that. At least I was still in the movie. And I was glad for that..."

And Renner continued to balance his concerns about his role, particularly about being hypnotized, with a general acceptance that unlike playing a guy who defuses bombs in Iraq, the part doesn't require that much work. "I prefer [playing] the good, because if we go to the evil part, or hypnotized or whatever the heck you want to call it, it’s kind of a vacancy. Not even a bad guy, because there’s not really a consciousness to him. The interesting part was being guilty about the bad things I did do when I was hypnotized. I think he’s already an interesting enough character. To really kind of take away who that character is and just have him be this sort of robot, essentially, and have him be this minion for evil that Loki uses," he explained. "Again, I could just focus on the task. I was limited, you know what I mean? I was a terminator in a way. So yeah, fun stunts. But is there any sort of emotional content or thought process? No. That doesn’t exist in that time [that he's hypnotized]. It happens to be for most of the movie."

But lest you think he's hating on the movie, Renner saw his participation thusly: "You know, there are a lot of people in that movie. And a lot of important characters. And my character, I felt like if I can help serve the story, then I did my job."

With Joss Whedon now signed on by Marvel to oversee phase two of their movie slate, and, of course, write and direct "The Avengers 2," hopefully he can give Renner a bit more to do by the time the mega-sequel arrives. But what did you think about Hawkeye and Renner in the film? Weigh in below. And if you want to see the actor in something meatier, check out "The Bourne Legacy" this weekend.

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27 Comments

  • Witch Hazyl | February 16, 2013 12:53 AMReply

    Apart from Nick Fury and Agent Colson and Romanoff (Black Widow), the others all had back story movies... Captain America, Iron Man (2), The Hulk (several versions), Thor... Colson tied all of them together, so we don't know where he comes from but we know his loyalty to S.H.I.E.L.D. and Fury. Hints were given about Romanoff when she was leading Loki to give her info on what he had planned (when he talked about the things she did before she was a good guy). But Barton was given no back story, no hints to his past, no clue as to why he is attached to S.H.I.E.L.D. X-Men started to do back stories of its various members in its prequels (Wolverine was the only one I know of that got a movie solely dedicated to his character alone)... . I know a bit about the comic book character of Hawkeye and his brother Trick Shot.... and would LOVE to see Renner have the chance to expand on that character. Hawkeye tries to keep his emotions in check, but there is a reason he is an expert archer and assassin... and I think he deserves his own story line.

  • Granny | January 7, 2013 5:10 PMReply

    It wasn't till near the end of the movie I found out he was Hawkeye. Not knowing all of the Marvel characters, I thought he was Pierced Arrow or something. It wasn't until Scarjo called out, "Hawkeye" that I rea l ized who he was. And one of their last repartees gives me the feeling that there will b e a sequel or prequel about the 2 of them when she says their fighting the aliens reminds her of Budapest & he replies that she must remember it differently than he does. Makes me think they'll have a chance in the future to give us the back history. JMO

  • Ellie | December 1, 2012 10:12 PMReply

    Renner is just so captivating and engaging to watch, no matter which film he's in or the character he becomes. Of course I would have liked to have seen more of Agent Barton/Hawkeye on the big screen, but his moments are important as they propel the motivation and actions of other characters.
    I have liked Renner since seeing him in "S.W.A.T." many moons ago and I have added a lot of his more quirky performances to my collection ("Dahmer", "12 and Holding", "The Unusuals").
    For "The Hurt Locker", I was on the edge of my seat for the entire film.
    I am looking forward to "Hansel & Gretel - Witch Hunters" in Feb 2013 and would gladly pay to see anything with this talented and gorgeous actor at the cinema.

  • Elizabeth | November 23, 2012 4:33 PMReply

    I loved Renner in this film. Yes he didn't get nearly enough screen time, especially as one of the good guys. However that being said he did an amazing job with what he was given. I would love to see a back story movie on him and Black Widow, or a movie set after the avengers about S.H.I.E.L.D with lots of Hawkeye. I hope in Avengers 2 he is given more screen time and I can't wait to see it.

  • pamela | November 15, 2012 11:45 AMReply

    I like Renner and i was upset they turned him bad it made him seem weak n that is so not the Hawkeye character although i understand things need to be done to make the movie work. For those of you who talk about blackwidow and hawkeyes relationship, you obviously didnt read comics growing up blackwidow ends up with capt. America n hawkeye with the mockingbird so i hope she is eventually brought in shes awesome n i love hawkeye and loved renner playing that role

  • Aleana | October 13, 2012 12:16 PMReply

    I Loved the Avenger Movie. I recently watched it for the second time. I was excited to know Jeremy Renner was in the movie and disappointed when I saw so little of him and no back story on Hawkeye. I would have liked to see the Black Widow and Hawkeye relationship brought out alittle more, they have an interesting and some times tumultuous relationship. Renner is Gold no matter what. Hurt Locker, on the edge of my seat the whole time. The Town, Outstanding! Neo Ned, You just want to reach out and give the poor mixed up _astard a hug. Breathlessly waiting to see JRs next film.

  • Fennec | October 10, 2012 3:10 PMReply

    A little late on the game here. But just came across this article.
    I believe he did a fantastic job with what was tasked to him. I was very disappointed he was taken over so easily; But when he did finally come back as himself, i couldn't get enough of the seen with hawk and the widow. To see more of him and what he can do with this character would just be such a treat! I really loved seeing the two characters with no real 'superpowers' take their part in this film and i would love to see them in a film of their own. Especially for getting to know more about theirs pasts.
    Renner is a great actor from what i've seen and i can't wait to see more of his talents!

  • Saphira R | September 22, 2012 12:24 AMReply

    I don't really know much about Marvel so I had to ask my brother about stuff but Hawkeye, the moment he came on, was my favorite. He should've gotten a bigger role and it sucks that he's not as popular because he was bad most of the time but he's just as good as the other Avengers. I can't wait to see the next one and hopefully he has a bigger role to prove how awesome he really is.

  • Angela Chavez | September 20, 2012 1:00 AMReply

    A two-time academy award nominee will get his breakthrough part in the next Avengers movie, his success has risen so high that they will see the potential in hin, just keep supporting him fans!!!

  • Lilia T | September 11, 2012 3:10 PMReply

    I absolutely totally LOVED Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye in the Avengers. He is such a good actor, his talent was totally wasted because they really didn't do much with Hawkeye in the movie. They NEED to give him a humongous role in Avengers 2 because his character really is an interesting one and Jeremy Renner is a FANTASTIC actor. They totally gave him NOTHING to work with in the Avengers and I hope they give him his own movie!!!

  • AF | September 8, 2012 4:54 PMReply

    Renner is an unbelievably talented actor who can burn holes into the screen with his intensity (see "The Town"). And yes, he wasn't given enough to do in The Avengers (note that his comments on that are completely professional and appreciative of where his role fits into the film -- those commenters who claim he is "shitting on the movie" don't seem to have read what he actually said. It's also worth noting that he does wonders with the one emotionally intelligent scene he was given, namely when Black Widow frees Hawkeye from Loki's spell. The chemistry between these two crackles (including at the very end). I do hope that we get to see a Hawkeye/Black Widow S.H.I.E.L.D. movie at some point. And no, please no purple suit. I like the black, thank you very much!

  • HunterK | March 2, 2013 11:43 PM

    The black suite is NOT accurate to the comics or Hawkeye in the Marvel universe. He has always been featured in a purple suite and the movie adaptation of him was out of character. No one knew who he was as his back story was not explained. It's like making Hulk blue or putting Wolverine in orange...just wasn't correct. Also the fact he had Ruby glasses made him more identifiable as Cyclops than Hawkeye. He's an assassin, why would he show his face and not have a mask?! I do think the purple suite would be a bit of a turn-off so perhaps a black and purple suite modification would be good to have. The movie version however was not iconic Hawkeye and it made him look like any other soldier. Sorry but he needs a purple suite.

  • Gaby | September 4, 2012 1:46 AMReply

    OMG, he is so good in Bourne Legacy & as an Hawkeye. Hawkeye is not a super hero icon like iron man, thor or capt. america. But Jeremy R make the character stand out & qualify to be one of the avengers.
    Can't wait to see his next project!

  • Bunny | August 22, 2012 12:28 PMReply

    I LOVED Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye...If you follow him in his interviews he likes playing people with depth and I'm sure it was hard for him to just zombie out in this. He doesn't sound ungrateful or like he's bashing the movie, just that he didn't have to delve too deeply into emotion as most of the time he was playing an emotionless person while under Loki's power.
    Now I'm totally bias I'm sure because I think Jeremy Renner is an amazing actor and is totally sexy. I'd love to see a backstory on him and Black Widow and would definitely pay to see it.

  • Cpm | August 9, 2012 9:34 PMReply

    Frankly having to play a lame character like Hawkeye, I would lobby for as little screen time as possible and just cash the paycheck.

  • theshiredog | October 17, 2012 11:36 PM

    Lame character? You're mistaking, friend.

  • RWMendez01 | August 9, 2012 12:38 PMReply

    The whole movie was mainly to unite the heroes from the past films and have them fight a bunch of CGI. It was a pretty busy movie. First off Hawkeye was pretty much irrelevant, if you want to call him Hawkeye since they changed him so much I thought he was just the leader of a special ops team rather then one of the actual Avengers (and people hated Nolan's change in Bane's costume, even though his Bane was as intelligent and menacing as he was in the comics). Second off, people are right. They get a change to introduce him and within the first few minutes, he's already under the spell of Loki? No chance to know who he is or how important he is. But again, the movie's purpose mainly consisted of Ironman, Captain America & Thor fighting each other, then CGI. People blindly give this film praise without even really looking at the details. They'll realize that this film is less a "true comic adaptation" and more of a film that just brought heroes from previous films into one. Nothing special.
    The film was entertaining but it certainly doesn't deserve the praise it's getting.

  • Kim | August 9, 2012 6:17 AMReply

    It was a busy movie and I think he had to have known Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, and Nick Fury were going to be in this (so Robert Downey Jr, Sam Jackson, Chris Evans, and Chris Hemsworth).... oh and hey he was going to be tacked in! Outside comic geeks how many people knew about Hawkeye? And granted when I heard about Renner in "Thor" I geeked out. My friends can attest I was super psyched in the theater when he came on, but again... I am a geek.

  • srmorrow | August 9, 2012 2:35 AMReply

    It's so diverting to watch over-confident, still-unestablished actors shit on future paychecks in their hand by asserting their unproven ego a bit too hard. Elizabeth Shue won an Oscar too, Renner. Where is she?

  • srmorrow | August 9, 2012 2:28 AMReply

    Watch your step Jeremy. We all remember Terence Howard. Is it possible you and your character simply that important?

  • Tom | August 8, 2012 10:49 PMReply

    Renner is fantastic in The Hurt Locker, and pretty good in Jesse James as well. Too bad he's whoring his sweet ass out for franchises only these days.

  • Cpt. Falcon | August 8, 2012 5:34 PMReply

    I wish he wore his classic purple costume in the movie.. And I wish they would make a modern blue and yellow Wolverine costume for Hugh Jackman. That would be bad ass, in my opinion.

  • Jesse | August 8, 2012 4:11 PMReply

    People actually like Renner? I have a pretty hard time watching him in anything. Not a bad actor, but not a great one either. His name on a poster instantly pushes me away.

  • srmorrow | August 9, 2012 2:30 AM

    Funny, to me he is simply pretty much of a non-person in cinema (doesn't attract or repel me) and he sounds pretty resentful that most agree.

  • St.Jon Clark | August 8, 2012 2:33 PMReply

    I wished there was more of Hawkeye but I still loved him in the parts we got to see him in. Even while he was under the influence of Loki we see how effective a fighter and asset he is. After Black Widow brings him to his senses by conking him on the head and we begin to discover his personality I was even more intrigued. As JR says in the interview, there were a lot of characters in the film and I think it would have been difficult to showcase them all individually. I would love to see Hawkeye have his own film and if there isn't enough interest in that, how about a backstory film on Hawkeye and Black Widow, there was plenty of chemistry there.

  • Absolutely | August 8, 2012 3:08 PM

    *talking* I meant. Stupid autocorrect.

  • ABSolutely | August 8, 2012 3:07 PM

    Totally agree!! I also wish to see more of HAWKEYE. I understand Renner's opinion on how the character turned out. I would love to see a Hawkeye/Black Widow movie or a SHIELD movie taking about the organization itself.

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