As trailers and character posters for Marvel Cinematic Universe's Avengers: Infinity War were unveiled in the months leading up to the film's release, one thing became abundantly clear: Hawkeye was M.I.A. Fans began frantically asking where the character is, and now that is has more or less been confirmed that the archer does not appear in the film, fans have switched to asking why isn't Hawkeye in Avengers: Infinity War. It turns out there's a very simple answer: he made a deal.
Minor Infinity War spoilers ahead! The last time fans saw Hawkeye, he was imprisoned at the Raft with the other Team Cap superheroes in Captain America: Civil War. Team Cap, of course, acted directly against the Sokovia Accords, and thus broke the law, and even though the movie ended with Cap coming to break them out, they're still technically fugitives. In Infinity War, it's revealed that both Hawkeye and Ant-Man made a deal with the government to sit this fight out and retain their freedom. It makes sense that Hawkeye would take a deal with the government and promise not to do any super-heroing. After all, when Civil War began, he was officially retired, and he and Ant-Man are the only two Avengers with children waiting for them at home.
Collider reports that during a set visit, co-director Joe Russo told reporters that, "The characters on Cap's side coming out of the Civil War, some made certain decisions and others made other decisions that led to different paths in them dealing with oversight in this movie in a different way." Now, why the government wouldn't want as many superheroes on the ground to fight an alien invasion, that is a bit more difficult to explain. But Russo teased that Hawkeye isn't just sitting in bed doing nothing while his teammates are risking their lives. "Hawkeye's on his own journey in this movie," he explained.
Regardless of how or why Hawkeye is sitting Infinity War out, fans can rest assured knowing that he is A) not dead and B) probably busy doing home improvement at his secret farm and taking care of his secret family. Still, that's not too comforting when you consider that half the Earth's population is at stake. And, it also raises the question of what's going to happen in Avengers 4. Is Hawkeye retired for good? Or will he be back to help save the day? And what could this "journey" Russo mentioned be?
There are a lot of theories as to what is going on with Hawkeye during Infinity War. Yes, he's hopefully spending time with his three kids, teaching them how to shoot a bow and arrow and protect their mother from an alien god with Infinity Stones, but there's got to be more. Unlike Ant-Man, who has his own solo sequel coming out just months after Infinity War, it's likely fans won't get to see Hawkeye again before Avengers 4, which means they'll have to wait to find out what he's actually doing.
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige teased that Hawkeye would be getting a big arc in future MCU movies, presumably in Avengers 4. "There are big, big story things coming up for Hawkeye and Jeremy Renner is as strong an actor as anyone in the MCU and awesome as this character," Feige said in an interview with io9.
So, what is this "big story"? Some fans have suggested that when Hawkeye does return to the Avengers, it won't be as the nice bow-and-arrow wielding family man, but as an entirely different character, Ronin. Photos of Renner on the set of Avengers 4 showed him in a very different superhero getup than Hawkeye's traditional black pants and vest, and rocking a very different haircut, as reported by CBR, causing fans to speculate that Hawkeye would be turning into Ronin. In the comics, Hawkeye becomes Ronin after dying and being sent to live in an alternate universe by Scarlet Witch as an attempt to bring him back. When he returned to the land of the living, he ditched the bow and arrow in favor of a mask and swords and became Ronin.
If Hawkeye's "journey" is one of becoming Ronin, it's likely that his will take a different path from that in the comic book. But, no matter what Hawkeye is doing during Infinity War, it's clear that fans should be able to count on seeing him again in Avengers 4, in one form or another.