Hawkeye is a beloved character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe portrayed by Jeremy Renner. We’re eagerly waiting for the new Disney+ Hawkeye TV show. He’ll train Kate Bishop to become the new Hawkeye in the show, but the fans noticed hearing aids in Clint Barton’s ears in the trailer. So, how did Hawkeye become deaf in the MCU?
We can’t know for certain what origin story of Barton’s deafness will the show writers choose, but Hawkeye was deaf in the comics as well. First, a sonic arrow made him lose his hearing, and then his nemesis, the Clown, stabbed him in his ears with arrows.
There was also a story arc showing that Hawkeye’s hearing problems started during an abusive childhood. However, due to the character not having those problems so far, I believe the series won’t explore that possibility.
Why Is Clint Barton Deaf in the MCU?
Before I begin, I’d like to say a few words about why Marvel Studios chose to have Hawkeye go deaf in the show in the first place. Some fans are displeased with Marvel Studios because they feel like the disabilities of some characters were purposely left out, such as Hawkeye’s deafness, Tony Stark’s alcoholism, etc.
I don’t particularly agree with the premise, though, as we’ve seen many disabilities included in the movies and shows, like Doctor Strange’s nerve damage, War Machine’s leg impairment, Scarlet Witch’s mental breakdown, and much more.
However, some people say it would be much more inclusive if a deaf actor portrayed the role of a deaf hero. I agree to an extent, and so does Marvel Studios, which is why they cast Alaqua Cox to play the role of Echo, a deaf superhero who’ll appear in the Hawkeye TV Show as well.
In the comics, Echo is a deaf, Native American character, and Cox is both in real life too, which is the right way towards inclusivity and representation of disabilities on the big screen, instead of trying to avoid or hide them like they don’t exist.
Also, Clint Barton’s Hawkeye had done his part in the MCU, and I believe the show will revolve around him passing the torch to Kate Bishop. That’s where the room to explore the more human parts of the superhero life can come into play, including his deafness.
How Did Hawkeye Become Deaf in the MCU?
The last time we saw Hawkeye in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was at the end of the Avengers: Endgame movie, where the team beat Thanos and Clint reunited with his family. However, the trailer for the upcoming Hawkeye TV show on Disney+ shows Barton wearing hearing aids in both of his ears, clearly showing he’s either deaf or at least going deaf.
The trailer fails to show us how he became deaf, but some hints could help us guess. For instance, training Kate Bishop to become the new Hawkeye shows us he’s ready to pass the torch. He probably became deaf in battle, or his hearing got damaged another way, making him realize that it’s time to finally retire.
It’s silly to speculate wildly, so there are two things we can do: either wait for the show to come out and eventually explain the cause of Clint’s deafness, or take a look at the character in Marvel Comics to see if we can find the answer.
Is Clint Barton Deaf in the Comics?
So, how did Hawkeye become deaf in the MCU after being completely fine so far? There are a couple of possibilities if you take a look at the comics, so I’ll lay them out and ultimately try to conclude which version of Hawkeye’s cause of deafness the show will most likely choose.
In the comic, Barton goes deaf a couple of times. He usually recovers, but some versions saw the character getting permanently damaged hearing.
We first saw Clint Barton going deaf in a 1983 miniseries Hawkeye #1-4. The character fights Crossfire, an intelligent marksman with cybernetic enhancements that make his aim even better. In this instance, Crossfire builds a sonic machine-like weapon that would send all the superheroes into a frantic craze.
Clint bites down on one of his sonic arrows to counter the effect of the sonic weapon, and although he manages to fight the effects of the weapon, his actions render him almost completely deaf.
He would later recover, only to go deaf again for the second time. His other nemesis, called the Clown, took two of Barton’s arrows and stabbed him in both of his ears, rendering him completely deaf.
Finally, a storyline emerging in 2014 focused on Barton’s backstory, including his childhood. He was heavily abused as a kid, and it shows that his hearing problems started back then.
However, I don’t think the TV show Hawkeye will explore this option as the source of Clint’s deafness. It would create a rift between the series and the MCU we’ve known so far. If Barton didn’t have hearing impairments so far, they couldn’t possibly emerge just now as a problem stemming from his childhood.
Instead, the impairment will most likely come from physical damage suffered in the show or during the time between the show and the events of Avengers: Endgame.
It has been hinted strongly that the Clown will appear in the show, especially because both Clint Barton and Kate Bishop battled him in the comics. When you add that he was the one to cause Barton’s deafness on one occasion in the comics, it plays into the theory that the Clown will have a significant role in the series, possibly as the main antagonist.
Still, all these scenarios are merely speculations – the showrunners might go in a completely different direction and not base the origins of Clint’s deafness on what happened in the comics but rather develop a new storyline.
We can’t know for certain before November 24th, 2021, when the first episode of the series will air on Disney+. Still, the fact that Marvel Studios will finally include this part of Hawkeye’s identity into the MCU and include Echo portrayed by a deaf actor is an amazing thing regardless of what direction the show will head in.