With the season 1 finale of Hawkeye this past week, the former Avenger, Clint Barton, looks like he’s got some extra tech up his sleeves. Forget about the trick arrows — Marvel fans are finally going to see a detail that they’ve been patiently waiting to see in the Marvel Cinematic Universe for nearly a decade.
— WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS FOR EPISODE 1 AND 2 —
Hawkeye has hearing aids
In an interview with IGN, executive producer Trinh Tran explained why it was important for the show to recognize that Clint has trouble hearing now. “It’s the realistic nature of having him being a human being with no superpowers,” she said. “He does get injured.”
“[Clint and Kate] are human beings who have no superpowers. They’re just skilled at what they do,” Tran told Polygon. “[We wanted] to really hit at the idea that they can get injured, and they can get hurt during these missions that they go through, and to showcase that, to see him being taped up because he is feeling that pain, and he’s feeling that injury. And the hearing aid is a nod to the idea that, through his experience, this can happen. And I think that’s one of the most relatable elements of the story that we tried to tell here.”
Throughout various points in his Marvel Comic history, Clint Barton has either had partial hearing loss, lost around 80% of his hearing, or lost his hearing entirely. Hawkeye shows us a brief flashback through some of Barton’s epic (and memorable) MCU moments such as flying through the windows during the Battle of New York in The Avengers, a huge blast during Avengers: Age of Ultron, and helping protect the gauntlet during the life-altering battle in Avengers: Endgame.
Is his hearing loss canon?
Yes. Barton has experienced hearing loss throughout his existence in the Marvel comics. But Hawkeye is specifically inspired by the 2012 to 2015 line of comic books titled with the same name, which centers around what Clint Barton is up to when he is not busy being an Avenger.
Clint Barton’s stints with temporary hearing loss began in 1983’s Hawkeye #4, the final issue of the character’s very first solo miniseries. In the issue, written and drawn by Marvel legend Mark Gruenwald, Clint purposefully deafened himself to evade supervillain’s sonic brainwashing device — and got a hearing aid only a few pages later, fully “restoring” his hearing.
Hawkeye #19 is widely considered an eye-opening example of deafness being shown in a comic book. The edition exhibits Barton’s hearing loss by showing empty word balloons when people are talking. In the comics, Barton communicates with his brother in American Sign Language (ASL).
The 2012 Hawkeye series written by Matt Fraction and drawn by several artists (but most notably and often by David Aja) turned Clint’s experience with deafness into a modern plot point, and a significant part of the design of the series. Their Hawkeye was famous for its experiments in storytelling form, including an issue in which as much dialogue is “heard” from Clint’s deafened perspective as possible, rendered on the page in American Sign Language or only-mostly-accurate lip reading. In the same issue, the two also established hearing loss as something that Clint experienced early in life, at the hands of his father, who regularly beat him and his brother Barney.
Marvel Studios has been coming in fast with the back-to-back deaf representation in their films and television series. In early November, Eternals gave us our very first deaf superhero in the MCU — Makkari (played by Tony Award-nominated deaf actress Lauren Ridloff). Hawkeye also features Echo (played by deaf actress Alaqua Cox), the daughter of the villain Kingpin and one of the few deaf characters from the Marvel comics.
Hawkeye is now streaming on Disney+. In related Marvel news, Kevin Fiege confirms Charlie Cox will return as Daredevil in the MCU.
Photos via Marvel