I know I’m not alone here when I say that I’ve seen Marvel’s The Avengers about twenty-seven times. Joss Whedon is my favorite writer, the Marvel Studios flicks are my favorite superhero films, and each of these actors seems veritably born to play their respective roles. The film – and those leading up to it – are a geek’s most dreamy dream come true.
So it’s kind of weird to think that we’ve not really seen much of Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye or Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow.
Right? I mean, Scarlett in the Black Widow get-up is pretty much etched permanently into my mind. When she first came down that hallway, snappin’ necks and taking names in Iron Man 2, her dream girl status was officially cemented. And Renner – the entirety of my Tumblr feed sometimes feels like gifs of Renner as Hawkeye, gifs of Renner on set, gifs of Renner being smarmy at conventions, and very, very, very many pictures of his tree-trunkular arms. But the truth of the matter is, these characters have not gotten that much screen time yet. In an eye-opening article, Vulture clocked the amount of time each Avenger got in The Avengers… and the results are kind of surprising.
Hawkeye was on screen for a total of twelve minutes and forty-four seconds. Twelve minutes and forty-four seconds! And during that very, very short while, he was mostly possessed by Loki, doing villainy things! He was a blue-eyed Loki-bot for the majority of the flick, before getting konked in the head and sharing some high-chemistry scenes with Scarlett as Black Widow. And speaking of her…
Widow easily beat out Hawkeye for screen time, clocking in at the third most prevalent Avenger after Captain Tightpants (gah, sorry, wrong Whedon movie) America and Iron Man. She’s on screen for thirty-three minutes and thirty-five seconds. A lot of that time is spent hinting at backstory, both between her and Hawkeye and her life before S.H.I.E.L.D., and establishing that she’s so intelligent than she can out-manipulate the master of manipulation. We’ll get to that, though. Point is, we’ve seen a lot of Black Widow in a supporting role, but for whatever lame reason, she is still confined to that. A Black Widow film has yet to be announced, though she does seem to be scheduled for a major role in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
With the overwhelmingly positive fan reaction to Hawkeye and Black Widow, eventual leading roles in solo films is inevitable for these characters. Whether it’s a joint film or individual films is yet to be seen, but thrusting these supporting characters into the limelight is the next logical step.
RED ON MY LEDGER
One of the most tiresome thing about superhero movies is that the first installment of a new series is the inevitable origin story. Every time studios reboot Spider-Man or Batman or Superman, we can expect a two-hour retelling of the hero’s humble beginnings. One of the coolest part about Hawkeye and Widow is that we don’t need that. They already have fresh, fleshed-out backstories that have been hinted at in their roles so far. Though I’m sure we can expect some juicy flashbacks, we know that Widow was a spy who was set to be assassinated by Hawkeye. That gives us a lot of information about both characters. Widow has a dark past, and Hawkeye is SHIELD’s weapon much in the same way he was Loki’s weapon. He chooses SHIELD, sure, but does that make him less of a weapon?
Widow and Hawkeye both have the same problem – they’re brilliant, creative, problem-solving minds that are being utilized by a government agency that, as shown in The Avengers, they have begun to distrust. However, what they do have is each other.
This next bit drives me a little crazy, actually. The Hawkeye/Widow fandom has been obsessing over what was a line designed to quickly develop their history together – the now infamous Budapest line. Okay, painting the picture. Widow and Hawkeye are getting down with the Avengers, all ready to kick some Chitauri ass. The battle banter ensues because, c’mon, it’s Joss Whedon.
WIDOW: This is just like Budapest all over again.
HAWKEYE: You and I remember Budapest very differently.
The Tumblrsphere (or, as I call it, “home”) has been dying to know what the hell happened in Budapest, but I think the speculation is a little bit missing the point. It’s a line designed to show the history, the camaraderie, and the lightness between these two. They may be about to die in an alien invasion, they may have met because one was hired to kill the other, and they may have a whole lot of red on their respective ledgers, but they’re also buddies.
(But for real, follow this link. This is what happens when you type “Budapest Hawkeye Widow” into Google Images. The Internet loses its shit.)
No robotic suits with repulsor tech. No Super-Soldier Serum. No big green monsters. No muscle-gods from far away realms. No shrinking Paul Rudds. No, Black Widow and Hawkeye are you and me. I mean, granted, they’re government trained agents and they probably eat way less Doritos, sure. But they aren’t armed with superpowers when dealing with intergalactic crises alongside of the Avengers. They are grounded characters that hang with the big boys not only because of their training, but because of their human qualities: their intelligence, their drive, their quest for redemption and validation in their own and each other’s eyes.
The first Black Widow scene in The Avengers has me convinced I’d rather go one-on-one with a cranky Bruce Banner than throw down with her:
<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/ncgjW1i8ZrM?rel=0″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>
Widow and Hawkeye have displayed a tremendous amount of chemistry. Through Widow’s affection for Hawkeye in the first act of The Avengers, we come to care about a character who we’ve basically only known as a vessel for Loki’s villainy. That is character development. There’s sexual tension between the two of them, sure – but romance or not, the two have undeniable chemistry. Whether they get their own films, a joint film, or end up as guests in each others, I think it’s safe to say that they’ll be sticking together.
Unless, you know, Joss Whedon kills one of them.