Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Missing the mark on Hawkeye in less than three pages

Hawkeye is a fun character. Amongst the Avengers he is one of the physically weakest members, yet the character is traditionally portrayed as holding a bottomless supply of bravado (if not a bottomless quiver of arrows). He's brash, cocky and often a loudmouth who disputes the authority of others. He first joined the Avengers as a hothead who would question Captain America's right to lead the team during their downtime, but over the years he developed - if not a friendship - a high regard for Cap's leadership. Over time, Hawkeye himself honed his leadership skills with the West Coast Avengers and Thunderbolts. He retained his flippant sense of humour but had become a true team player (now that he was finally the one calling the shots).

Allow me now to take you back in time to a scene from Avenging Spider-Man #4 (2012) by Zeb Wells and Greg Land:

Above you see an archery expo suddenly interrupted by Hawkeye's arrows as he ruins the expo for all the participants. Although Hawkeye's loud personality clashes with others, he tends to seek out targets which, to his mind, deserve it; in what way has this expo offended him? As an archer, why would he look down on others for practicing the same skill he enjoys?

But the worst is yet to come as a young male archer asks Hawkeye to autograph his bow.

Hawkeye: "Wha--? A compound bow? Ugh..."
Boy: "My Dad got it for me."
Hawkeye: "Has he always wished you were a girl or something?"

The line between loveable rogue and misogynistic prick needn't be crossed so easily, but by gar, Zeb Wells found a way there by page three! To put this in very simple terms: Hawkeye's characterization can be thought of as "Han Solo with a bow;" writing him as "Ken Titus with a bow" is a horrible mistake. The entire sequence rests on the idea that Hawkeye is someone who "punches down," which is neither funny nor in keeping with his past characterization.

Does Hawkeye look down on the female gender? No, not based on his relationships with formidable women such as the Black Widow, Mockingbird and Moonstone.

Is Hawkeye even someone who disparages compound bows? No, he's used them in past (one is shown in his arsenal in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition, above). In fact, since the character's 2007 resurrection he's used the compound much more frequently than at any other time in his history.

Many archers in the real world do disparage the compound bow; they (usually) find a way to do so without insulting children, fathers or the female gender. Or disrupt archery expos.

Let's tally up!

  • Characterization: 0
  • Continuity: 0
  • Gender politics: -5

Let's see... carry the one... that's going on the permanent record. Gentlemen: think about what you've done.

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