There’s gotta be a better way to tell my girlfriend… that the thought of a serious relationship makes me nervous.
This panel very succinctly calls all of Clint’s motivations into question, and I love it for that. If he’s picking a fight on Penny’s behalf because he wants to avoid talking to his girlfriend—and see, he knows exactly what Jessica is to him, he’s just avoiding saying it—then why has he done anything else? Did he rob the night circus because something with the Avengers hadn’t gone his way? Was buying the car from Penny a way of getting over a mishap with the quinjet?
So the answer to all of those questions is “probably not.” But it does give us a clearer look at Clint’s headspace. Of course, he’s a hero by nature. Half his plotlines only work because he’s a good guy, at heart. But in this series he’s always systematically distancing himself from his hero’s persona—he doesn’t call himself a superhero, hardly ever wears his costume, cites the Avengers jokingly and usually isn’t believed even when he’s serious. One almost gets the feeling that the Clint in this book doesn’t want to be associated with Hawkeye.
And maybe he doesn’t, because what he’s doing may be in some ways right or noble, but he’s not doing it for those reasons. This book is Clint shirking off his usual responsibilities but stumbling into new ones. He doesn’t know Grills’ real name but will help fish his father out of a hurricane. He says the apartment building isn’t his problem, but he’ll stand out in the snow to defend it. Maybe this is Fraction and Aja’s big exploration of heroism—do you need the name, the costume, the team, and even the selflessness to be a hero?
I don’t know that we have an answer to that question, yet. But looking at this panel, it does seem like Clint’s intentions aren’t always as noble as you’d think. And his own awareness of that is much clearer than his bumbling and muttering would have you believe.
From Hawkeye Volume 4 #08 (Matt Fraction & David Aja)