Avengers: Endgame largely wasted Clint Barton’s Ronin arc, but the Hawkeye spinoff Echo can truly develop the concept as a Punisher figure.
Marvel’s Hawkeye spinoff can tell the Ronin story Avengers: Endgame failed to deliver on. When Thanos snapped his fingers in Avengers: Infinity War, he instantly erased half the life in the universe. No superhero suffered more than Clint Barton, whose entirely family was reduced to dust. In the wake of Thanos’ snap, Hawkeye went rogue, adopting the identity of Ronin and killing those he believed didn’t deserve to have survived.
Sadly, Avengers: Endgame largely wasted Ronin. Clint’s actions were first mentioned in a holographic team briefing, with War Machine reluctantly telling Black Widow what her old friend had been up to in Mexico. Natasha then managed to track him down to Japan, where she was shaken by the sight of him killing a Japanese crime lord. Unfortunately, for all Clint had essentially transformed into the MCU’s version of the Punisher, that whole angle was largely forgotten. You’d have at least expected War Machine to give him a side-eye, having visited the site of one of Hawkeye’s Ronin massacres, but that didn’t happen. The film’s resolution gave Clint his “Happily Ever After” moment with his family, seeming to ignore the fact he’d basically become a serial killer for a five-year time period. Everything was forgiven and forgotten far too easily. Marvel is working on a Hawkeye TV show, and it looks set to correct this issue by forcing Clint to confront his legacy – both as Hawkeye and Ronin. The series will introduce two legacy heroes, with Hailee Steinfeld as the next Hawkeye and Alaqua Cox as Echo, a woman who became the next Ronin in the comics.
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Marvel Studios is currently developing a Hawkeye spinoff starring Echo, with Etan Cohen and his wife Emily Cohen writing the scripts. This is a brilliant opportunity to really develop the Ronin legacy by making Echo a very different character, one who chooses to embrace the more brutal kind of vigilantism Clint himself took up during the Blip. This is on Disney+, so it won’t be R-rated, but it’s worth noting The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has already proved Marvel’s PG-13 content can explore surprisingly mature themes. With the right handling, Echo could therefore become the MCU’s Punisher figure, taking down criminals with ruthless efficiency and hunted by heroes as well as villains.
This would make Echo a unique figure within the MCU, because – with the brief but understated exception of Clint Barton himself – no hero has actually occupied this role. The key point would be to use Echo to explore the morality of superheroism by contrasting her with more typical heroes, and indeed with smart writing the antagonist could actually be a more traditional hero who is just as sympathetic as Echo herself. This would be the kind of approach Marvel typically take in stories where they have Captain America and the Punisher team up; tense, awkward affairs that shine a light upon the heroism of Captain America and the brutal methods typically employed by Frank Castle. The dynamic between these two contrasting moralities is one writers have enjoyed exploring time and again.
Marvel would be smart to use Echo in telling this kind of story. The Punisher brand is a little tarnished of late, to the extent Marvel Comics came under pressure to retire the Punisher character and his logo. By shifting these themes to such an appropriate character, they explore the same ideas without any controversy. Meanwhile, the thematic connection between Echo’s Ronin and Clint Barton’s Hawkeye means the story feels like an organic development in the MCU. Hopefully this will be the approach Marvel take, finally doing justice to the Ronin concept they teased so effectively in Avengers: Endgame.
More: How MCU’s Hawkeye Spinoff Can Bring Back Daredevil’s Kingpin
- Black Widow (2021)Release date: Jul 09, 2021
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)Release date: Sep 03, 2021
- Eternals (2021)Release date: Nov 05, 2021
- Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)Release date: Dec 17, 2021
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)Release date: Mar 25, 2022
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)Release date: May 06, 2022
- Black Panther 2 (2022)Release date: Jul 08, 2022
- Captain Marvel 2 (2022)Release date: Nov 11, 2022
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