How Hawkeye (Disney +) is Exploring Repressed Trauma
If you’re plugged into our community on Twitch or Discord, you know my thoughts on Hawkeye are less than great. So I’m going to take all of my hot takes and put them away. If you want to know how I really feel - keep watching till the very end. But for this video we are going to look at the story being told in the latest Disney+ Avengers series Hawkeye, where we explore the relationship between Barton and Bishop for the first time in this universe. Clint has to tackle a pretty gnarly past in this series - can we learn anything from how he’s coping? How can we as Christians use the themes present in this show to better our own repressed trauma? Let’s talk about it.
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Phil 3:12-18 (NRSV)
Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you. Only let us hold fast to what we have attained. Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears.
So to get us all on the same playing field - what is Hawkeye?
Hawkeye is the latest Marvel Comics miniseries being adapted on Disney+. It stars Jeremy Renner as the titular Hawkeye Clint Barton. And Hailee Steinfeld joins the cast as the much anticipated Kat Bishop - who is also technically the titular Hawkeye. So - details.
The show itself is serving as a pretty straightforward device to offer up some important closures for plotholes in the last Phase of the MCU and to set us up for the next generation of New Avengers. Or just new Avengers. Like not with a capital N. MCU can do whatever they want.
This means that the show is dancing around two things at once - the first centers around Hawkeye being an Avenger who survived the original snap and became the dark and brooding Hot Topic Ronin - not Ronan, Ronin - vigilante. Now that things are “back to normal” in a post-snap world his past as Tobey McGuire Spider-Man 3 cool vigilante has come back to haunt him.
But that’s not the only thing haunting him - Kate Bishop is a 22 y/o Hawkeye fan and delinquent (is she a delinquent?) who is pretty much perfect in every way - smart, witty, painfully rich, charming, does backflips, really good archer, has a lot of trophies, I think? Anyways she gets caught up in a supposed resurrection of Ronin - again, not Ronan - when she wears the outfit and does vigilante stuff, getting the wrong eyes on her
And I do mean eyes - because the big bad, secondary bad, sort of bad maybe good - Maya, also known as Echo - not Ekko - is a deaf Native American leader of the Tracksuit Mafia who is trying to passionately hunt down Ronin.
Also - there’s a dog now. So this shows a 10/10.
The major direction of the show is for Clint’s Hawkeye to ultimately move out of the way for the new class of Avengers and make the path for Bishop’s Hawkeye. But in order for that transition to happen, Clint has to finish dealing with his own mess and the trauma that has wrought his life for the past four phases of MCU drama.
Most notably, the show presents the themes of Clint’s inadequacy on a team of literal superbeings like the Hulk or actual gods like Thor. It also presents the theme of losing his entire family right before his eyes during his retirement in the snap. And then his trauma of losing Natasha pointlessly during the End Game saga.
Yeah - I said pointlessly. I couldn’t save that hot take for the end of the video. Save me your emotionally manipulated deus ex rage, mmkay?
Anyway all of that bottled up inside Clint and caused him to crumble in upon himself when he became Ronin - not Ronan - out of revenge for the Snap taking his family. In the show, he explains to Kate that he did this because he wanted to hurt bad people because that was what he was good at.
But now, he’s getting things sort of figured out - one awkward Chinese dinner at a time.
Okay - so we have a pretty familiar trope here, right? We have a superhero with a somewhat scattered past. We have someone who has the strength and the will to end lives as he sees fit and he has a dark spot where he does that of his own morals at one point, which is probably not cool.
So then we get the kind of man on the run situation where Clint can’t run fast enough that his past won’t catch up with him. So my theory is that this show is going to either end with Clint actually retiring and allowing Kate Bishop to become the new Hawkeye or for Ronin to be actually revived and Clint stay in the MCU getting those sweet Feige checks. Dang it - I did it again. No more shade, no more hot takes til the end - I promise.
To be honest, this trope is a little tired and the way that Marvel is presenting is pretty par for the course, but the over-the-top awesome action scenes, constant cameos, and fantastic dialogue writing is making this a great iteration of a tired trope.
But tired or not, we can still learn from it. So let’s look at our scripture real fast.
Philippians is one of the prison epistles of Paul and many theologians believe that it was likely the last epistle that he wrote.
The Church of Philippi was one of the churches that Paul planted during his second missionary journey and, while I’m sure they were far from perfect, this epistle isn’t one quite as heavy with admonishment and crises as some of his other epistles
In fact, some parts of this epistle are downright ooey gooey like this one.
Paul is kind of bittersweet and poetic about coming to the end of his earthly ministry. He is a bit nostalgic really about how far he’s come and the wisdom that he’s learned along the way.
In this particular, he’s quite literally on the brink of tears thinking about the past and the race that he’s run. He’s clear that, even in his advanced age and status in ministry, he still sees the thing of life as being the pursuit of the goal.
He hasn’t reached the goal, but is pressing onward to make the goal his own, just as Jesus made him his own.
He then says that he’s not quite there yet, but that he does know one thing and that’s that he must forget what lies behind and strain forward for what lies ahead instead - keeping his eyes on the heavenly prize presented through Jesus.
He then makes a call to all of those whom he’s writing to and says they should do the same - he’s lived a life of imitation that is worthy of its own imitation. Kind of the classic old idea of learning from the wisdom of the elders.
So what is Paul really getting at here? Should everyone reading this letter start murdering all of the follower of Jesus until they get scales on their eyes when they see Jesus in a pathway and then wait in a building until a follower of Christ comes and heals their scales? Is that what we should be imitating? No - of course not.
The point of what Paul wants imitated isn’t where he’s been - it’s where he’s at. Not literally - I don’t think he wants everyone to be in prison - but maybe he is if that’s what it takes to imitate him.
The truth of the sentiment presented here is that Paul was not a good person, far from perfect, but every day that goes by with his sights focused on imitating Christ has made the past worth forgetting, even with literal homicide in it.
Now who do we know who’s committed somewhat homicide? Ah - it’s Hawkeye himself!
The truth of Hawkeye’s obsession with the past is that we can’t just ignore the past and expect it to go away. The consequences of Clint’s actions have to be dealt with in real-time. But the results of dealing with them that I’m sure this show intends to present to the viewing audience is that Clint will appear to have his slate wiped clean once the Ronin is dealt with - no more awkward Chinese dinners, no more missed Christmases, no more strained relationship.
When Clint strayed off the path, he was reacting and angry and living that traumatic life of the past that Marvel chooses to leave in between looks exchanged between Scar Jo and Renner.
So what made the difference for Paul here? Paul made mistakes. Paul screwed up. Paul himself often calls his own brokenness. So what made the difference that allowed him to say in the end that he was worthy of imitation himself - that’s a bold statement.
Paul says that he officially had set his sights on a life just like Christ’s. When Jesus’ goal became Paul’s goal, it all changed for the better. And Jesus’ goal was to love the least, last, and the lost. Once Paul truly set himself aside and entered life with that stance, he was able to realize that was what it meant to live as Christ lived.
So… in Hawkeye it seems pretty likely that’s where this is headed. People looked up to Hawkeye, but the reason he doesn’t see himself as an inspiration is because he’s not living the life that *he* knows is inspirational. By the end of the show, he’s going to stop being the Hawkeye that he was trained by SHIELD to be and become the hero that his children see when they look at him. Ronin is the perfect example of what Hawkeye was trained to be but knows is wrong. Until he totally sheds that past and moves forward, he can’t start his real life as the hero he knows he’s meant to be - a dad. A real father to real kids who need him around.
So what does this mean for us today?
When we realize the goal that we’re really made for everything becomes so much clearer and that’s when everything clicks. But if we’re not willing to move on from our shoddy history and the mistake that we made, we’re never to really live into the fullness of what God has in store for us.
It might mean letting go of our past self. It might mean addressing some demons in Tracksuits. Whatever it means, it means moving forward with who God made us to be. Being held by the past keeps us from experiencing the future. So move forward and let’s move forward together in community. That’s what we’re doing every single day at Checkpoint Church and we’d love to have you join us.
So, whether you’re Hawkeye, Hawkeye, Ronin, Ronan, or just a plain ol’ LARPer, know you’re always welcome here at Checkpoint Church.
My complaints - Why the Avengers musical? Why? Is it gonna come back?
It’s hilarious to me that Jeremy Renner, the app-owning Jeremy Renner, is putting on airs as Hawkeye pretending to be this like humble, I’m no good, I’m not even the best Avenger and then Hailee Steinfeld and be like No, you’re the best Avenger cuz you inspire people - spare me.
Also - you can’t convince that this isn’t a Youth Pastor conversation. Incredibly awkward. If it’s supposed to be - they nailed it. I’m def uncomfortable.
Question: How are you enjoying Hawkeye? Do you like Steinfeld’s take on Kate Bishop?
God loves you. We love you. You matter.
Until next time,