What to watch before you watch ‘Hawkeye’

Hawkeye homework, if you will.

words by: Alee Kwong
Dec 8, 2021

Hawkeye has never really been a focal point for new Marvel fans. He was always known as the “least powerful Avenger” and Marvel Studios never gave us much to work with seeing as they always positioned Clint Barton/Hawkeye as a side character and more of a character of convenience in contrast to the other Avengers.


But since the announcement of the Hawkeye series on Disney+ in 2019 (following Hawkeye’s emotional arc in Avengers: Endgame), Marvel fans old and new couldn’t have been more supportive. Diehard Marvel fans have always griped about how little attention Hawkeye received in the MCU movies and had been fighting for years to get him a solo project outlining the superhero’s abilities and in-depth backstory.


If don’t want to go into the new series blind, here’s a list of content to watch beforehand. Believe me, you’ll be glad you had some context before jumping in because the Hawkeye series is a very reliable bridge for new Marvel characters to use when they enter the MCU.


— For a spoiler-free list, scroll to straight down to the bottom —

Note: The list goes in order from top to bottom


Thor (2011)


Important characters to keep in mind: Thor, Loki, Nick Fury


This is our very first introduction to Clint Barton/Hawkeye. That’s really the most important part of this film and overall this movie doesn’t feature Hawkeye as much as it does Thor (obviously), Loki, and their home of Asgard. However, Barton’s involvement with S.H.I.E.L.D. is something that you’ll need to know about if you want to understand Barton’s beginnings in the MCU.


The Avengers (2012)


Important characters to keep in mind: Avengers, Loki, Thanos


Now, this is where Barton’s story gets interesting. We see how Barton is used as Loki’s pawn against the Avengers in this film and the coolest parts about his involvement in Avengers are all the bow and arrow action shots. You really get to see how useful and skillful he is and why is he is a part of the MCU’s first introduction to the Avengers.


Captain America: The Winter Solider (2014)


Important characters to keep in mind: Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier, Sam Wilson/Falcon, Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, Sharon Carter, Nick Fury


Captain America: The Winter Soldier doesn’t actually feature Clint Barton whatsoever, but the events that transpire in this film do directly affect Barton. Without revealing too much — S.H.I.E.L.D., for the purpose of the movies, no longer existed after this movie, meaning Clint Barton becomes a free agent. When he teams up with the Avengers, it’s because he’s helping out a friend, not because it’s his job.


Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)


Important characters to keep in mind: Avengers, Wanda Maximoff, Pietro Maximoff


Avengers: Age of Ultron provides so much backstory about Renner’s Clint Barton. Again, at this point he is helping out the Avengers as a friend, not as a contracted employer under the rigid instructions of Nick Fury. When he isn’t out avenging as Hawkeye, he lives a relatively normal life at home, complete with a wife and three kids. Hawkeye also has a huge role in helping Wanda Maximoff (played by Elizabeth Olsen) become an Avenger.


Captain America: Civil War (2016)


Important characters to keep in mind: Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier, Sam Wilson/Falcon, Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, Wanda Maximoff, Black Panther, Scott Lang/Ant-Man, Rhodey/War Machine, Helmut Zemo


This is a pivotal point in which the Avengers break up and take sides over a moral issue. We see a recently retired (but then quickly pulled out of retirement) Clint Barton and Natasha Romanoff — who have a very close relationship in the comics — find themselves on separate sides of the divide. Again, because Barton is not contractually obligated to help anyone at this point, we get to see where his values align when asked to pick a side, Barton gives us an indication of who he is more as a person rather than a hero.


Avengers: Endgame (2019)


Important characters to keep in mind: Nastaha Romanoff/Black Widow, Bruce Banner/Hulk, Captain Marvel, Rhodey/War Machine, Thor, Scott Lang/Ant-Man


The opening scene of the film starts on Barton’s farm with his family. Shortly after a target lesson with his daughter, he finds that his entire family has disappeared into thin air — being victims of Thanos’ Blip that wiped out half of all living beings in the universe. This leaves Barton completely alone, with no family to anchor him. So what does he do?


Old habits die hard — he spends the five-year gap in the film as a murderous vigilante out to kill anyone he deems unworthy of having survived the snap. Natasha pulls him back from his killing spree, with the hope of getting his family back. The two team up with the rest of the surviving superhero group to retrieve the Infinity Stones. What happens to Barton in this movie will definitely affect his character development leading into the Disney+ series.


Black Widow (2021)


Important characters to keep in mind: Yelena Belova, Valentina Allegra de Fontaine


Again, this is another movie that doesn’t feature Clint Barton at all, but there is a minor mention of him. His ties to Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow run deep in the comics but in the MCU they met because Barton was assigned a mission to take out the Black Widow. Before he had a chance to complete his mission, Romanoff decided to defect to S.H.I.E.L.D. and then found herself becoming co-workers with Barton. The scene to pay the most attention to is the end-credit scene of this film. It creates a direct link that will surely be brought up again either in the Hawkeye series or a film in the near future.


Daredevil (2015-2018)


Important characters to remember: Matt Murdock/Daredevil, Wilson Fisk


Yes, a whole different television series on Netflix. While Clint Barton is (again) not directly involved in Murdock’s story during this series, it’s the main characters in this show that matter. Hawkeye takes place in New York City and it’s well-known that he will encounter Echo, who is canonically Wilson Fisk’s adopted daughter. An introduction to a direct character from the Daredevil comic book storyline is HUGE to say the least. To understand the relationship between Hawkeye and Echo, you need to first understand the world Echo comes from — which means understanding her father and his adversary.


Spoiler-free watchlist

Note: This list goes in the order that is listed, not by year.

  • Thor (2011) 
  • The Avengers (2012)
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
  • Captain America: Civil War (2016)
  • Avengers: Endgame (2019)
  • Black Widow (2021)
  • Daredevil (2015-2018)


Photos via Marvel and Netflix