Fear Files

Fear Files: Hawkeye

Jim McCann helps tap the psyche of Clint Barton

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By Ben Morse

In 2011, terror overtakes the Marvel Universe as Fear Itself envelops its heroes and villains.

To delve deeper into what lies at the root of this climactic event, each week in Fear Files we will speak with Marvel’s biggest creators about exactly what frightens the premiere heroes and villains whose lives they guide.

This week, we focus on Earth’s Mightiest Marksman Hawkeye, aka Clint Barton, a man who has triumphed over a host of insecurities over the years; but as HAWKEYE: BLIND SPOT writer Jim McCann explains, that doesn’t mean this Avengers stalwart never gets scared…

What is Hawkeye most afraid of?

Jim McCann: In the past I'd say it [was] living up to others’ expectations, but he's proven to his teammates—and more importantly to himself—that he is more than capable. That was symptomatic, I feel, to his underlying, deepest fear: that of being abandoned. The thought of losing those he loves  He was orphaned, lost his mentors to crime, lost his brother to crime—and death— lost his place in the Avengers, lost the team he founded, lost almost every woman he loved, and lost his life. That's a lot of loss for one man to endure; every time life seems to be going well, things are pulled out from under him and he's left all alone in some way or another.

Do these past tragedies and this fear drive him at this stage in his life to cling harder to people or push them away?

Jim McCann: Both. He's got a cocky, brash exterior he uses to seem like he's totally fine without anyone, but once he feels he can trust you, you're in, and he will fight side by side with you with everything he's got to make sure you're in it for life.

Hawkeye’s skill set as an archer requires absolute concentration and focus—is fear something that ever distracts him and affects his abilities?

Jim McCann: I think that's the one thing he never feels he could lose; it's an extension of himself, like an extra limb  That's one reason why going blind is so terrifying to him—the one thing he never thought he'd lose is drifting away in front of him. But when it comes to the battle field, I think the only time he hesitates is if it puts someone he loves at risk, [and] then he does what he does best: improvise and make his own luck to turn the situation around.

Could you argue that fear makes Hawkeye a more effective hero?

Jim McCann: I'd say he's found a way to channel that fear to make him more effective, but he can teeter on the brink of losing it when he suffers a major loss. So it's an asset and a liability at the same time.

What would you say was the most frightening thing Hawkeye has ever faced and how did he overcome it?

Jim McCann: I'd say his own mortality. The loss of his life. He overcame it by searching for what makes him him.  He adopted the Ronin persona as a mask to cover his own fear and it was when he finally took back the Hawkeye mantle that he overcame that fear. The most traumatic would have to be a tie: losing his brother and then [his ex-wife] Mockingbird. In losing his brother, he went on a revenge vendetta against Egghead and ended up accidentally killing him.  With Mockingbird, he's lost her and gotten her back a few times, and each time, he's lashed out in anger; at himself, at the Skrulls, at himself. In a sense, he can be his own worst enemy when pushed.

Stacked up against the rest of the Avengers and heroes of the Marvel Universe, how would you rank Hawkeye’s abilities to face and triumph over his fears?

Jim McCann: Many people see the Avengers as having a trinity, but I see them as having a foundation with four corners, Hawkeye being the fourth.  He is up there with Cap, Iron Man and Thor. And he has the most relatable fears, to me, because he is the most human of all of these, which makes his fears the scariest.

Clint Barton’s quest to overcome a burgeoning handicap continues on April 13 in HAWKEYE: BLIND SPOT #3 before he joins the rest of the Avengers in Fear Itself.

Join us next week for another installment of Fear Files, and for more information on Fear Itself, visit the official event page.

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