After the first Avengers came out, star Jeremy Renner was outspoken about his disappointment in the way Hawkeye was used in the film. Largely hypnotized by Loki for the duration, Renner felt Hawkeye got short shrift from Marvel. “To really kind of take away who that character is and just have him be this sort of robot, essentially, and have him be this minion for evil that Loki uses?...”
Renner wanted more out of Hawkeye in Age of Ultron, and it looks like he's getting it. Hawkeye is a much bigger part of the team this time around; “we’re all together a lot more,” Renner tells us. But, that doesn't really explain where Hawkeye, who was curiously absent from all of Phase 2 up until this point, has been for the past few years. When we asked director Joss Whedon if we will find out what Hawkeye was up to, he told us, “Yeah, We are. ‘Cause somethings up with that boy. That’s all I’m gonna say.”
We prodded Renner for some details, and he wouldn't divulge much, but did promise some “wonderful secrets” about Hawkeye's past, including his relationship with Black Widow. (Remember, she was wearing the Hawkeye “arrow” necklace in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.)
He also teases his new Stark Industries tech, being a “grump” and what exactly Hawkeye thinks when he sees Vision.
How is Hawkeye involved in this one that’s different to the first Avengers?
It’s a lot of the stuff that Joss and I talked about to do in the first one, but it just didn’t work out that way. It’s really exciting for me and Joss to kinda dive into the character a little bit more. There’s some wonderful secrets and relationships deepen, and so there’s a lot more of him to deal with versus the hypnotized version of him.
Elizabeth Olsen said in this movie Hawkeye is a “delightful grump.” Can you talk about bringing in Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver and welcoming them into the Avengers?
Yeah, those are great characters. Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are great characters, and my character and them have a lot to do together. They’re a little blurry on where they stand as far as good as bad and, which I appreciate, I guess. (laughs) But yeah, I think I’m sort of policing them to see if they’re worthy or not, I guess, of being good guys or bad guys. I question them a lot. (chuckles)
One of the biggest questions that came out of Captain America: The Winter Soldier was, “Where was Hawkeye?” Are we going to get a definitive answer to that question?
You’ll know in this movie, yeah, where he’s been. Yeah (laughs) you’ll know. It’s actually a really wonderful secret reveal. Yeah, it’s pretty awesome.
Can you talk about Hawkeye’s new weapons and the new costume?
Yeah, he’s got a coat 'cause we were fighting in the woods, so I guess he’s got this pretty cool coat (laughs). I can’t move in it, but it’s cool-looking at least. Yeah, there’s always new tech and different things. I don’t wanna get into any of that sort of stuff either, but, yeah, there’s some new costumes, new tech; got some new characters — new good guys, new bad guys. A lot more of us together in the movie as Avengers, which is I think there’s only once or twice that we had that, so that’s been quite fun. They’re long days to shoot, because there’s a lot of people to cover in a scene when you have like ten Avengers in a scene, but there’s a lot more about what I think worked in the first one. They’ll have that exponentially more in this one.
What was your reaction when you first got the script, and how much changed from when you first got it to what you’re actually filming?
I mean, the bones of it were always there and the script that we got was really solid and great, and then, as we go along, there’s more things we find and as in any movie, there’s just a lot. There’s so much to cover. I don’t know how Joss does it. All have to focus on is like small, little parts. Like I asked, “What the heck’s being built over there? I mean, I have no idea what’s going on (laughs). This world and the things going on in this movie are so vast and so many things going on. I think for the most part the script is what it was when we started, and you make minor adjustments here and there for clarity and, like I said, it’s a big, big movie.
By his nature, Hawkeye’s a very physical role. He was very involved in that final battle sequence without having the powers or tech of some of the others.
That’s the fun part.
How has that changed in this movie? Is it more physical? Does it still feel like you have to keep up with the other Avengers?
Yeah, I suppose I’ve done a lot of that stuff already. We still have a couple more sequences to go where it’s fun. You have to be a smart fighter when you don’t have the superpowers, you know, and that’s what makes him sort of super in a way, I guess. He has to use his mind as much as it his physical ability, and his ability to never miss. I still miss, but yeah, stay the distance and don’t miss.
Hawkeye seems very cynical and skeptical. How does he react to something like The Vision showing up?
He’s always very skeptical of new people. It’s a military kind of thinking in the sense of, “I have to trust that you have my six or that you have my back while I’m trying to manifest something up here. You have to work as a unit, as a team, otherwise we all fail or I die or somebody else dies.” So that’s where the skepticism comes in. It’s not just to be grumpy or not to like somebody. It’s all there for a reason, and that plays a lot in this movie.
Does he still have a strong connection to Black Widow for that reason?
Yeah, yeah, of course. They have a long, long history together and there’s more of that revealed in this as well.
Is he particularly skeptical of Scarlet Witch though, because he has to be burnt after having his mind controlled by Loki in the first movie?
Yeah, well, there’s a little bit of that, because that happens to people in the movie. I’m not giving away too much, but yeah, there’s animosity, I suppose, with any newcomer, good or bad.
The last few years has been especially kind to Hawkeye in the comic books. Is there any sense as you finish with this that Marvel is going to explore Hawkeye away from the Avengers?
I don’t know. I mean no. Well, I mean there’s always opportunity in the Marvel Universe to jump into a lot of different scenarios, but it only makes sense, I think, that just as an outsider, that Captain America, those sort of things, he fits into that world pretty well, because they’re similar in their military ideals. Like Hawkeye’s not in Thor. It’s hard to really imagine that, but they leave it pretty wide open for a lot of different venues, a lot of different scenarios to happen. I do not know the future. I’m just happy to be doing it now.
As a follow-up from earlier, how is Hawkeye dealing with the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. Obviously, this was an organization he was a huge part of not knowing it was rotten to the core?
For me, my take on it is, you know, it’s probably a good thing. He’s kind of a loner anyway. He’s a team player, only because he sort of has to be. He’s not really a company man. Cap can be that guy. Hawkeye is his own… again, a lot will be revealed with a few simple scenes. You’ll understand why he is and thinks the way he thinks. But yeah S.H.I.E.L.D., I don’t think, was ever really that important to him. Fury’s awesome. He likes Fury and will do anything for him, but a company man is just not him. He doesn’t punch in and punch out.
What is your own personal interest of being more involved in the Marvel Universe as Hawkeye outside the movies?
I think there was talk of having some of the guys go up and jump onto the TV show. I remember them mentioning something about that. There has to be a good rhyme or reason for it, and I like the character enough and anything to do to explore him more. I’m always open to it, 'cause he’s obviously not had a franchise of his own to really deeply explore who Hawkeye is. Yeah, I’d always like to explore the guy more. He’s an interesting character to me.
Does it conflict with what Joss is doing with the movies to have him in appear in things where they really have to keep it very tight?
When you blur the lines like that, you still don’t wanna cement yourself into a direction to where you kill somebody off. It’s hard to kinda bring that back. I mean they kinda did that with S.H.I.E.L.D. with Coulson who died in The Avengers, right? They try not to box themselves too much into those things, 'cause it leaves these options for them, and Feige is the puppetmaster behind all this, so I think they’re really smart about that stuff.
Talk about the vibe on set compared to the first film. Everyone’s having a lot of fun, and it feels like a more of a like a family unit. Was that how it’s been for you?
Yeah, absolutely. I mean I saw Downey like twice, I think, in the last Avengers, and this one, we’re all together a lot more. So that makes it really, really great, and also tedious when we shoot it, because there’s so many people to cover. And there’s so many storylines to tell, but it makes the off-camera stuff just so much more fun. I personally like to go to work and just knock out some action sequences and get it done and, and we do do that, but when we’re all together, it’s really great fun. It really is a wonderful family unit. It’s the best part of doing a big, crazy, action movie like this, which usually can be quite unfulfilling as an artist, but because all the people involved in this are so great, it makes coming to work every day really, really joyous.
In terms of the action, Chris Evans was talking about consciously really wanting to evolve Cap’s fighting style and seeing that happen.
Yeah, I think that’s still always trying to find that, and again, there’s new tech and new costumes and new things, and there’s always new abilities and new sort of things. For instance, if Hawkeye’s a distance guy, what happens when it’s up at close quarters? We did a little of that in the first Avengers, but having to use arrows just in hands and having to do different things like that. You know, be nimble and fly under people’s legs and you have to be clever with things. Clever fighting to me is what I like to explore a little bit more with that as well, and then using each other. Like if it was Cap and I and say Widow in the scene and how we can use each other’s abilities as teamwork. Say, he can toss me somewhere up higher, and that’s where these new characters are great, too, with the Scarlet Witch,you’ll find that her abilities are just being tapped into in this movie, and what they can be become. She’s still learning what they are, which is really cool, man. That to me as a nerdy, geeky dude about this world, that’s what I’m excited to kinda see what happens in the future, because that can be quite fun. Again, it happens a little bit in this, but I really want to explore more of that.
Did they tell you in advance before filming that you were gonna have some new arrows, or did sort of you arrive on set and they showed them to you?
Both. It’s both. It’s kind of like the bat belt for Hawkeye. He really has a lot of utility. And for writers to make this see, creative in any scenario, we gotta go. “Oh, wait. He has an arrowhead that does this and does that, but it’s still just the tip of an arrow. It can only do so much. But yeah, I got a couple new tech things that were pretty cool. I’m like, “Oh, I didn’t know I had that. Alright, that’s cool. That’s a cool one.” (chuckles)
Do you wanna tease us with one of the specifics?
No. (laughter) There’s a couple cool new ones though.
How has that been different, working with Joss Whedon on this movie?
Well, I’m seeing him a lot more, which is nice. I’ve known him since ’98 since I did “Angel” with him. Yeah, man, it’s great to dive into the character, and he’s just as excited as I am about finding who Hawkeye is. I remember the beginning of the movie, we were shooting the end of the movie as movies go, right? There was this moment — it’s more of a chatty bit for Hawkeye — and we realize, “Wait, well, we’re running out of time or doing all this action stuff,” and he’s like, “Let’s finish all the action. Maybe we can do the little talky back on stage or something.”
He was a little afraid, because this is the first time we really get to see his personality or what his sense of humor might be or who he really is. “I know, let’s think about it for a minute. Let’s play around with it and not have like thirty minutes and cement ourselves into something.” It’s been a lot of fun. I always feel good, because I know him so well. I know when he likes a take and he likes something, and it’s always been like one and a half takes and, “Okay we’re done. You got it.” When I get him smiling or laughing and he feels good and that’s a good feeling. I like making him happy, because I trust him. Even though I don’t know what I’m doing half the time, I’m like, “Really? Well, okay, I’ll do it.” And I’ll fight back on a few things (laughs). I know how to shoot a bow and arrow, but yeah, he’s great, man. We’ve had a lot of fun and he’s the mastermind behind all this stuff in these Avengers movies. They’re impossible to write. Impossible, but he does it and pulls it off.