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It was surprising for a lot of us to go into The Avengers and be introduced to Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, only to have him out of commission for much of the movie. Hawkeye had been teased in a brief scene in Thor as a skilled and lethal S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, but in the opening scene of The Avengers he's turned into a zombie servant by Loki, and it's not even until the third act that he's able to team up properly with his Avengers brethren. While there's still the promise of a potential standalone Hawkeye movies, not to mention whatever's led to come in the Avengers sequel, the Hawkeye we met isn't exactly the guy comic fans might have expected-- and Renner himself seems a little bummed out by the contrast as well.
While he's very diplomatic in discussing The Avengers in this LA Times interview, Renner's disappointment in playing Zombie Hawkeye for much of the film is evident: "90% of the movie, I'm not the guy I signed on play," he tells them, adding "ll I could really work on was the physical part of it all, because that didn’t change." And later in the interview, he describes being "limited" by the role, describing the movie's version of Hawkeye as "a terminator:"
I prefer [playing the good version of the character], because if we go to the evil part, or hypnotized or whatever the heck you want to call it, it’s kind of a vacancy. Not even a bad guy, because there’s not really a consciousness to him. The interesting part was being guilty about the bad things I did do when I was hypnotized. I think he’s already an interesting enough character. To really kind of take away who that character is and just have him be this sort of robot, essentially, and have him be this minion for evil that Loki uses. Again, I could just focus on the task. I was limited, you know what I mean? I was a terminator in a way. So yeah, fun stunts. But is there any sort of emotional content or thought process? No. That doesn’t exist in that time [that he's hypnotized]. It happens to be for most of the movie.
To be fair, when asked if he's disappointed with how the role turned out, Renner says "I felt like if I can help serve story, then I did my job." And he also recognizes that, as a new character without a standalone movie leading into The Avengers, Hawkeye was automatically going to have less development than the other members of the team. Renner surely knows that publicly complaining about his part is a sure way to get an even smaller one in the sequel, and he seems to want to let people know about the potential for Hawkeye that they didn't necessarily get in The Avengers.
And you know what? You can't blame the guy for being disappointed. He signed on to play one version of Hawkeye and wound up largely playing another one entirely, and one far less interesting to perform. It's kind of nice to see Renner acknowledge that, while also staying diplomatic enough to recognize that it was probably best for The Avengers that his character get short shrift. Way to be a team player.