I don’t know about you, but for the past few days, my social media pages have all been focused on one thing: the Avengers: Infinity War trailer. Of course, whenever a new Avenger’s movie comes out, I always get disappointed, because my favorite Avenger, no, my favorite Superhero, is criminally underrepresented.
If you’ve seen the movies, you may recognize his as the guy with a bow and arrow, who never really gets much screen time. His name is Clint Barton, code name Hawkeye, and I swear I’ve never been this attached to a comic book character before.
Everyone’s favorite archer currently stars in his own comic book, written by the wonderful Matt Fraction, and he skillfully highlights the humanity of a hero. All the stories take place in between big battles, and builds up Hawkeye as a person I’d really like to be like.
And here are a few reasons why:
1. He’s not Super: Clint Barton is just a person, who is very good at one thing- archery. And while I am only ok at archery, I am also just a person, and I really admire the bravery it takes to go out and save the world armed only with a bow and arrow. Hawkeye doesn’t have a super suit. He doesn’t have super speed or super strength. He doesn’t even have advanced healing. The fact that he is so utterly human is what I love about him. He goes into battle again mutants and gods, and once the world has been saved, he drags himself home to ice his bruises and tape up his ribs. I want to be the sort of person who throws myself into things knowing that I may have to patch myself up afterward, and being ok with that.
2. He’s invested in his community: In Matt Fraction’s comics, Hawkeye literally goes to battle over his apartment building. Not in a business sense, but to make sure that his neighbors have a safe place to live. Clint is definitely a worrier at heart, but for whatever reason, he doesn’t hesitate when it comes to the wellbeing of his community. This is the advocate that I aspire to be. Right now I’m pretty comfortable with self-advocacy, which, as I say to make myself feel better, Hawkeye is terrible at. But taking that next step still worries me, and unfortunately, the comics don’t provide a great guide to advocacy. If I were to what Clint did, I would: throw barbeques, rescue people from a hurricane, watch Christmas Specials with the children, and fight off the Mafia for control of the building. I think I’ll take the spirit of Hawkeye and make my own plan.
3. His disability doesn’t run his life: There are lots of Superhero’s with disabilities out there. In fact, after accidental radioactive exposure, disabilities are one of the top reasons that superheroes are born. It’s like the writers are saying “yes, you’re blind, but hey, at least you have superpowers now!” Canonically, Clint Barton is Hard of Hearing, and he gains nothing super from it. No powers, unless you count reading lips as a power. But I don’t think that he would. He also communicates with ASL throughout the comic (Issue #19 is done almost entirely without spoken English.) I like that since he’s been dealing with disability since childhood, it fits him like a really comfy pair of shoes. Like, if he were to list 5 things that describe himself, Deafness wouldn’t make that list. I still fight my disabilities sometimes, and the comfortable acceptance that Clint has is what my goal is.
4. He gets back up (even if he quits first): We all fall down, even superheroes, and Clint Barton does his fair share. I can’t really blame him, he’s got to have trauma from the constant stream of people dying around him, and sometimes I have trauma days where I don’t have it in me to leave the house. But even on his bad days, hell even on his bad months, he always comes back, and I think that’s a really healthy behavior. No shame in needing a break, right? It would be so easy for Hawkeye to walk away. It’s not like he’s irreplaceable like Captain America or highly recognizable like Tony Stark. He could take his dog and start a new life, one without violence or pressure to save New York, again. And yet…
5. He does his best because it’s important: I said up at the top that Hawkeye is my favorite because he doesn’t have superpowers, but he still goes out there every day and saves the world. And to me, him doing this is almost more admirable than someone who did have powers doing it. Hawkeye does the best with what he has, and he does it because he knows how important it is. I go through stages where I want to save the world. Just like Clint, I know that it’s important, and that me doing my best could really make a difference. But the idea of saving the world is scary too. To quotes a certain other superhero, “with great power comes great responsibility”, and I’m not sure I’m ready for that. I’m hoping that, with time, the fact that I could make a difference will shift from a worry to a simple fact: that it’s important, so I should do it.
So there we are! Superheroes are written to be idols, but I hope I’ve shown how much I appreciate one who is an everyday hero as well. Because that’s what I strive for, making a difference just by being me. And hey, if I can have a dog while doing it, that’s even better!