We Already Had A Hawkeye Standalone film, It Was Called Tag
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has provided us with many pressing questions over the years. What are the Infinity Stones? Who is the Winter Soldier? And most importantly, where the hell is Hawkeye? While the other Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy and the entire nation of Wakanda were all trying to drop-kick Thanos in Infinity War, Hawkeye was MIA. And from the looks of the Endgame trailer, he apparently spent most of that war tending to his Mohawk.
And on that note, where was he the other times his friends needed help? Like in Iron Man 3? Or Winter Soldier? Is Hawkeye just that bad at choosing his vacation days?
Well, for the answer, we don't need to scour tie-in comics or watch any of the recently cancelled Netflix series. You just need to see Tag, 2018's strangely star-studded movie about a bunch of grown men who continue to play a children's game well into their 40s. Because as far as I'm concerned, Tag is our Hawkeye solo film. There have been calls for a Hawkeye movie for years, and we finally got one, albeit one that also stars Ed Helms.
First, the obvious: Jeremy Renner, award-winning man of maybe two faces, plays both Hawkeye and Tag's untouchable Jerry Pierce. Both characters are gruff, somewhat aloof, supernaturally athletic, and -- as evidenced via arrows and donuts, respectively -- stellar marksmen.
The crux of Tag is this: In all the 35 years this friend group been playing their game of tag, Renner's Jerry has never been tagged, and his friends have decided that by gum, this is the year they get him. It's ... not a complicated movie. But Jerry and his pals take the game far too seriously. Helms' character, Hogan "Hoagie" Malloy, talks his way into a job as a janitor solely to surprise Jon Hamm's Bob in a meeting, while Jake Johnson's "Chili" falls several stories onto a parked car to get away from Helms.
But even with corporate espionage and grievous bodily harm on the table, Jerry is head and shoulders above his playmates. His commitment to the game of tag actually scares them. They have marveled in fear and awe for the vast majority of their lives, since 1983, at the lengths to which Jerry will go to not be declared "it." Even when they corner him, he easily takes out all of them without making physical contact, all the while providing narration like he's the only man who got anything out of those Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes films.
He is, in other words, superhuman. Jerry is always several steps ahead of his friends. He knows exactly what their moves will be, down to the millisecond. You know, kind of like how Hawkeye can arrow-explode a passing alien without even looking.
Jerry, like his purple-favoring superhero alter-ego, also favors crafting unnecessarily elaborate traps out of his environment, with little-to-no regard for destruction or personal damage. At one point, Jerry leads his "friends" into the woods, whereupon it's revealed that he's turned the entire forest into a multifaceted deathtrap. Moreover, he somehow seems to know exactly where his friends will walk, despite there being presumably acres of woodland.
A man fighting with his friends and knowing impossibly, spookily well exactly how they'll react? Reminds me of when Hawkeye (and the Scarlet Witch) rained down an entire parking garage full of cars on Iron Man in Civil War, with our archer correctly predicting that his armored compatriot would dodge and taunt instead of just, y'know, lasering more than one of the arrows or crushing Clint's skull between his metal hands.
He's also largely a mystery, even to his friends. At one point, Jerry and his fiance fake a miscarriage (from a false pregnancy that they had set up well in advance, in a relationship that his friends weren't even aware of) to get out of a crisis. A tag crisis. It's not hard to see the parallel here:
In Age Of Ultron, it's revealed that Hawkeye kept his entire family a secret from the Avengers. We the audience are supposed to be shocked -- especially the fans, as this wasn't even pulled from the comics. But really, what do we actually know about the MCU's Clint Barton? Next to goddamned nothing.
The comic book version of Clint has ample pages spent on his absurd childhood, but Renner's version is an enigma, with nary a mention of him being raised by circus folk to be found. Maybe that's because in the MCU's history, Clint grew up normally, as Jerry Pierce, and then joined S.H.I.E.L.D. and took on an assumed name. Or maybe he changed it specifically to protect his tag friends. He obviously has affection for them, even if he's never around, and it would be a major bummer if Tag ended with Ed Helms being eviscerated by Ultron.
But how does this theory actually fit into the Marvel movies' continuity? Better than their Netflix shows, that's for damn sure. For one thing, it gives us a reason that Hawkeye is never around to help his Avenger buddies in their solo movies. Conversely, constantly saving the world explains why Jerry never seems to be around his normal friends either. It also answers the question posed by Civil War, in which the audience is left wondering, "What does Hawkeye get up to in his off-time, anyway?" Golf, after all, was too easy. "Played 18, shot 18," Clint says, just coming short of winking at the camera.
So what if instead, Hawkeye threw himself fully into this lifelong game of tag with his friends? It would certainly explain the efforts Jerry goes to. After all, unless he's part Ewok, building a sternum-shattering battering ram out of a tree is going to take a little time.
And then, of course, there are the three very obvious, very goofy hints that the movie gives us. The first being that Jerry's name is Jerry fucking Pierce, just like that thing arrows are famous for doing. It's kind of a dead giveaway, though it's better than Jerry McDefinitelyNotHawkeye.
Secondly, at one point, while threatening to launch a purse at Helms, Jerry, after going through some unnecessary theatrics, holds the bag taut and up to his chin, like a damned bow, and not low and wrapped around his thumb like a slingshot, as any sane person would obviously do.
And finally, Jerry jumps out of no fewer than two windows during Tag, and Renner actually broke both his arms during filming (on Day 3!), but kept going anyway. You know who else repeatedly jumps out windows and injures himself and keeps going anyway despite all reason and logic?
I think I can close my case. Tag is officially part of the MCU, Ed Helms' character needs a spinoff, and I can't wait for Tag 2, in which the gang deals with the aftermath of the Snap.
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