A darker suit for a darker hero.
The first teaser trailer, the Super Bowl spot, and now the second trailer for Avengers: Endgame finally showed us Clint Barton and his new costume, after he sat out Infinity War. And it looks like he’s abandoned the Hawkeye mantle and become Ronin.
That one change actually tells us a lot about the status quo of the MCU post-Infinity War and why Earthlings may be less than thrilled with their superheroes. Read on to find out why this costume change is so significant.
Note: This story has been updated to reflect the release of the second Avengers: Endgame trailer.
Who Is Ronin?
For those not familiar with Ronin, he’s not a character so much as a cover identity used by several different heroes. In the comics, the Ronin costume was first worn by Daredevil’s ally Echo. It then passed to Clint Barton following his death and resurrection at the hands of the Scarlet Witch (she was going through some issues at the time).
Feeling disillusioned, Clint abandoned his Hawkeye identity and took up the Ronin mantle instead. That costume change reflected a darker, more driven mindset. And while the circumstances in Endgame may be different, Clint’s motivations are probably similar. Statistically, it stands to reason at least some of his family was killed in the Decimation.
The Registration Act
The main reasons heroes tend to wear the Ronin costume is to disguise their identity, whether to go undercover (in the case of Echo) or because their secret identity is already public. This suggests to us that the Super Human Registration Act introduced in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War is still very much in effect. The reason Clint Barton becomes Ronin in Endgame is most likely because he wants to resume his superhero career without seeming to violate the SHRA. As it is, the whole reason he sat out the events of Infinity War is that he reached a plea deal with the government and gave up being Hawkeye. He needs a new superhero identity if he’s going to evade the attention of the authorities.
This is also supported by the fact that we see Steve Rogers back in his Stealth Suit from 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Steve may not care about maintaining a secret identity or defying the government, but he does need to work quietly and without bringing every law enforcement agency in the country down on his team. Apparently losing half the world’s population has done nothing to cool the government’s anger at unregistered vigilantes.
A Darker Tone
In general, the Ronin costume tends to be associated with darker Avengers storylines. For example, Clint’s tenure as Ronin came during a prolonged story called Dark Reign, where Norman Osborn became head of the SHIELD replacement HAMMER and many heroes found themselves fugitives from the law.
Endgame may be drawing from the Dark Reign era in terms of tone, if not specifically plot. Osborn’s rise to power came in the aftermath of a massive Skrull invasion. The ordinary citizens of the Marvel U. were dissatisfied with their old heroes and their collective failure to stop a destructive attack. The citizens of the MCU may feel similarly upset with the Avengers and their failure to stop the Decimation. The tone of this movie is shaping up to be very bleak, and the Avengers will need to do something pretty grand to restore hope in a hopeless universe.
For more on the new Avengers movie, check out our thoughts on if a new Hawkeye is being set up for the MCU, or check out the film’s new poster. Or learn what those new white Avengers suits might mean for Endgame!
Jesse is a mild-mannered writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter, or Kicksplode on MyIGN.