Warning: Mild spoilers for the first two episodes of Hawkeye follow below.
With the release of “Hawkeye,” Marvel Studios has launched yet another extension of the Marvel Cinematic Universe on Disney+. And like the shows that came before it (i.e. “WandaVision,” “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” and “Loki”) this new one largely stands on its own, but benefits from some knowledge of events in previous Marvel movies. But one specific “Hawkeye” plot point likely has some viewers scratching their heads. Namely, who is Ronin?
Clint Barton Was Ronin in “Avengers: Endgame”
If you’ll recall, shortly after that jaw-dropping five-year time jump in the 2019 film “Avengers: Endgame,” Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) tracked her old pal Hawkeye down in the streets of Tokyo where he was slicing and dicing members of organized crime. Hawkeye had a different haircut and even a different costume, and had devoted his life to becoming a vigilante in the wake of his entire family’s disappearance when Thanos snapped half the universe out of existence.
Natasha was able to convince Hawkeye to lay down his sword and join her and the other surviving Avengers to try and go back in time and reverse Thanos’ snap — which they ultimately did, but at the cost of Natasha’s life.
What fans may not know is that Hawkeye’s little ninja sequence in “Avengers: Endgame” is a nod to a comics run that saw his character take on the alter ego of Ronin, and in “Hawkeye” it’s revealed that his time fighting criminals as Ronin has made some very serious enemies.
So despite the fact that the name Ronin is never uttered in “Avengers: Endgame,” Hawkeye was Ronin in that one scene. Think of it this way: If Hawkeye is an Avenger who helps save the day, Ronin is a vigilante who kills (mostly bad guys) at will.
Ronin in the Marvel Comics
In the Marvel Comics, Hawkeye was not the first character to take on the mantle of Ronin. That honor goes to Maya Lopez (aka Echo), who first assumed the Ronin identity in 2005’s “New Avengers #11.” In a twist of fate, Echo appears in “Hawkeye” and is getting her own spinoff Disney+ series. Coincidence? We think not.
Clint Barton was the second character to take on the Ronin identity in “New Avengers #27.”
How Does Ronin Fit Into “Hawkeye?”
The TV series “Hawkeye” doubles down on that small comics nod from “Avengers: Endgame,” and finds Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton revealing that during his time as the vigilante Ronin he made a lot of enemies. That puts him in contact with a young archer and Hawkeye superfan by the name of Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), who steals the Ronin costume from a private auction and is then spotted wearing the outfit while beating down assailants, thus leading those in the criminal underworld to believe that Ronin has come back.
And thus the plot of “Hawkeye” kicks into gear – Hawkeye must help Kate clear her name and get these baddies off their backs.
So, just when Clint Barton thought he was out, he’s pulled back in. Clearly he’s trying to live a quiet life out of the Hawkeye limelight when the events of “Hawkeye” begin, but he gets the added pressure of his murderous past coming back to bite him.
So yeah, Ronin = Hawkeye. Hawkeye = Ronin.