Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, has a unique skill set that makes him one of the rare Avengers without superhuman powers. Still, he fought some of the deadliest villains in the Marvel Universe and held his ground.
Here’s a ranked list of 15 Hawkeye’s deadliest villains he ever faced in the comics, as well as the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The Death-Throws are a criminal group hired by another character on this list, Crossfire. If you think that Hawkeye is crazy for carrying only a bow and arrows in fights against cosmic beings, then these guys will blow your mind.
Most of the Death-Throw members are jugglers, each having their own unique set of weaponry and destructive items. Some use bombs, others use sharp rings, etc. The group first appeared in Captain America #317 and has been reemerging to attack Hawkeye numerous times.
I guess one could say they aren’t that good at their job because Hawkeye never seemed to have any trouble defeating them. Still, they keep coming back, and their unique approach to combat certainly grants them a spot on the list.
14. The Ringmaster
The Ringmaster is an incredibly dangerous opponent that Hawkeye faced multiple times. I would love to see him and his Circus of Crime in the upcoming Hawkeye series, but it all depends on the direction the writers want to go in.
The Circus of Crime is, well, a circus, but they don’t just perform in front of an audience – they all respond to the Ringmaster and perform heinous crimes. He has fire eaters, clowns, jugglers, strongmen, and others fighting for him, but he also has a great skill set.
The Ringmaster hypnotizes people, so they’ll do whatever he wants them to do. He might not be the most formidable opponent one-on-one, but he used his powers to control numerous supervillains and other powerful threats against Hawkeye.
He even tried to manipulate Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Hawkeye to join his crew, but they declined the offer, so he became Hawkeye’s nemesis.
The Hangman is a bit darker than what we’ve used to seeing from Hawkeye. He comes from the part of Hawkeye’s storyline where he delves into the occult magic world and fights the villains who use it for evil.
One of the enemies he faced during that time was Hangman, aka Jason Roland. He fought Clint and the West Coast Avengers after he made a deal with a demon called Satannish to become a famous actor, as his career was failing miserably up to that point.
However, the demon tricked Roland and turned him into the Hangman, a villainous creature with superhuman strength and invulnerability but no empathy or good left in him. He uses a magical rope that can’t be destroyed to attack his enemies. He also uses it to climb wherever he wants without tying the rope magically; it just levitates.
A.I.M., or Advanced Idea Mechanics, was originally a branch of HYDRA that later became an individual organization. It’s a group of criminal masterminds who attacked Hawkeye’s West Coast Avengers for the first time in Iron Man #201. They and Hawkeye have had an ongoing battle ever since, battling numerous times.
What makes A.I.M. so dangerous is not only their knowledge and combat skills but their resources, too. They recruited several of Hawkeye’s big nemeses to attack him and other Avengers. Still, they aren’t superhuman-level threats, so Clint usually dealt with them himself.
11. The Clown
Hawkeye faced numerous human-level threats, but one of the most sinister villains he ever crossed paths with was the Clown, Kazimierz Kazimierczak. The villain first appeared in Hawkeye Vol. 4 #8.
Kazimier was just a normal guy before his childhood friend tragically passed away. It changed Kazimier for good, making him turn to the crime before eventually taking the Clown identity and becoming a serial killer.
While he doesn’t have superpowers, he also has no other reason for killing people but causing chaos and destruction. That mindset makes him an extremely deadly and dangerous villain, but Clint stopped his murderous spree eventually.
I think it’s realistic to expect the Clown to appear in the new Hawkeye series that’s coming out soon because he also dealt with Kate Bishop’s Hawkeye in the comics, too, and we know we’ll see a lot of her in the show.
10. The Swordsman
Despite being only human, the Swordsman was extremely dangerous for Hawkeye because they had a history together before Barton changed for good. The Swordsman was the one who taught Clint how to use swords, knives, and similar weapons while Hawkeye was in the criminal circus. That’s where he got his bow and arrow skills, too.
However, after Hawkeye realized that the Swordsman and the circus were training him to become their thief, he turned on the Swordsman and tried turning him in. The master beat the pupil this time, as he escaped to remain a threat to Hawkeye for a long time.
After a while, Barton persuaded the Swordsman that there was a better life, a good life for him, and the villain had a change of heart, joining the Avengers and eventually falling in love and marrying Mantis. Yeah, he was a weird guy, but the fact that Clint got half his skills from him makes him a very dangerous person.
9. Trick Shot
If anybody can go head to head against Hawkeye in the archery department, it’s Trick Shot. They have the same skillset, even a similar costume, but what’s amazing is that he usually won when fighting against Clint. How? Well, he’s the one who taught Hawkeye his bow and arrow skills.
As the first Trick Shot was named, Buck Chisholm had experience over Clint despite having the same skillset (including knife and sword training from the Swordsman).
Despite the personal connection with Buck, the second Trick Shot was much more meaningful to Clint. It was Barney, his long-lost brother, who died fighting Egghead. However, Baron Zemo looked for revenge against Barton, so he found a way to resurrect his brother and programmed him to kill his brother.
It backfired, though, as the brothers reconnected and fought the Baron together.
8. The Hood
The Hood wanted nothing more than to be the new Kingpin of Crime after the previous Kingpin Wilson Fisk was taken away. He wields two guns and is known for his bright red hood – hence, the nickname.
I loved his storyline with Hawkeye in Hawkeye: FreeFall (2020) because it was a classic example of a hero fighting a villain and becoming the same thing he was fighting.
The Hood had incredible power, so Hawkeye couldn’t get to him in his traditional ways. So, he decided to become a crime lord too. He was a mob boss in the drug dealing business, trying to do everything he could to make the Hood lose resources.
Clint stole his business to beat him, but when it’s all said and done, are you much different from the evil you’re fighting if you end up doing the same thing. Does the end goal justify the means?
Crossfire is one of Hawkeye’s main villains, and he’s also one of the most dangerous opponents he has ever faced. Crossfire is incredibly skilled with all kinds of weapons, especially firearms, but what gives him that particular edge is his cybernetic implants that improve his accuracy to the maximum.
On top of that, he was a CIA agent who learned all the combat tactics there are to know, making him even more deadly. Crossfire attacked Hawkeye many times and proved he’s a worthy opponent to the Avenger, but he also fought the insanely strong Moon Knight, even shooting him at one point.
He has a special desire to kill Hawkeye – he was the one that hired the Death-Throw gang to attack and kill Clint.
Taskmaster is a well-known supervillain who has an extremely rare ability called photographic reflexes. He can learn other people’s moves and fighting patterns and perform them instantly twice as fast. That’s why he’s one of the deadliest opponents you could ever face one on one – anything you can do; he does it too, but better than you.
Tony Masters, aka the Taskmaster, watched, fought, and perfected the skills of almost all the Avengers and many other heroes, making him almost impossible to beat. He possesses Hawkeye’s archery skills, Black Knight’s swordsmanship, Captain America’s shield, and hand-to-hand combat abilities, and so much more.
The ability’s name is misleading, though. It’s not really a reflex, but a conscious action he makes. Taskmaster needs to “make room” in his memory if he wants to copy and learn somebody’s moves, which results in forgetting something else.
That ultimately means he could forget everything about himself apart from fighting, so to prevent that, Masters only learns abilities he thinks could be of use to him, not everything he sees in combat.
5. Baron Helmut Zemo
Mainstream fans hated Baron Zemo for turning Bucky into the Winter Soldier but then loved after the events of Captain America: Civil War, and especially after the TV show The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. Although he did get a nice, loveable twist of character in the MCU, he’s not so loveable in the comics.
He’s an extremely deadly villain, but not because of his fighting or weapon skills. He’s deadly because he is an extremely persistent and skillful manipulator. He had complete control over the Winter Soldier, but that’s just scratching the surface. His father was a Nazi and a Hydra agent, and Zemo wants nothing more than to live up to the ideal he thinks his father was.
The Baron managed to control several mighty groups of villains and supervillains that were prepared to die for him, and that control and manipulation he has over others make him almost untouchable and extremely dangerous.
Hawkeye had to deal with Zemo numerous times, including fighting his villainous groups such as the Masters of Evil, the Thunderbolts, etc.
Bullseye is yet another fantastic marksman on this list, so it seems that Hawkeye usually battles those who can match him skill-wise. However, Bullseye isn’t your ordinary marksman – he literally never misses. That makes him the greatest shot in Marvel Comics, despite the competition being quite potent.
What makes him even more dangerous is that his marksman skills don’t stop with ordinary weapons – he can make any object a deadly weapon, including pebbles, staples, even pencils.
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Bullseye and Hawkeye developed a hateful relationship in the Dark Avengers storyline, where Norman Osborn got a hold of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s operations and created the Dark Avengers team. He hired Bullseye to impersonate Hawkeye and taint his name as much as possible, which, as you can imagine, Clint didn’t appreciate all that much.
Almost all of the villains on the list so far have been chosen from Marvel Comics, but the MCU’s Clint Barton had some extremely powerful enemies as well. One of them was Loki, and he quickly became somebody who Barton hates.
In the first Avengers movie, Loki uses the Mind stone-powered scepter to control Hawkeye, turning him into a mind-controlled slave that did Loki’s dirty work, killing S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, fighting the rest of the Avengers, etc.
After Barton broke free from mind control, he had a particular hatred towards Loki, going directly after him in the battle of New York. Of course, Loki later became one of the most beloved MCU characters, but at the time, he was the MCU’s top villain.
2. Black Widow
Yes, you’ve read that correctly. Hawkeye and Black Widow are the closest friends you can find, being true family, apart from blood relations. They shared a similar story, turning good from bad at the same time and joining the Avengers together. Clint saved Natasha’s life in Budapest, and there are no closer friends in the universe than these two.
The same was true in an alternative, Ultimate Marvel Universe. Here, Nat and Barton were also very close friends, but with a twist – Black Widow was evil the entire time, manipulating and betraying Hawkeye and the rest of the Ultimates.
She cold-bloodedly killed Hawkeye’s wife and children, making her one of the deadliest, most sinister villains that Hawkeye had ever faced. Especially if you consider their close relationship – how could he even fight her after all they’ve been through together?
Last but not least, Thanos is by far the strongest, deadliest supervillain that Hawkeye ever faced. While he wasn’t in the Avengers: Infinity War, he came back for Avengers: Endgame to face the Mad Titan.
Thanos is an Eternal from Titan who has the Deviant syndrome, making him the strongest of all Eternals. To add to it, he was so power-hungry that he spent his entire life trying to find ways to become the most powerful being in the universe. That includes mystical arts, studying the occult, doing bionic enhancement experiments, and even bargaining with Death herself.
As Bruce Banner says, even without the Infinity Stones, he’s one of the most powerful beings in the cosmos – but he faced the Avengers with a full Infinity Gauntlet and a colossal intergalactic army. He wiped out half the universe in a snap of his fingers, making him by far the deadliest threat Hawkeye ever battled against.