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WARNING: There be spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War ahead.
It's kind of funny now to look back on all of the pre-Infinity War speculation and theorizing about why Hawkeye and Ant-Man were missing from all the marketing. This massive, unifying MCU film would surely have them in it, so they were conspicuous in their absence. Now having seen the film, we know that this wasn't a Luke Skywalker situation where they were kept out to hide some secret or build to a reveal, they simply aren't in Avengers: Infinity War. This isn't a case of their scenes being cut either, Hawkeye and Ant-Man are deliberately not in the film, and The Russo Brothers have a good reason why. They spoke out in the Happy Sad Confused podcast, noting,
Anthony Russo: There is a very specific story choice why...
Joe Russo: There is a... we have a really interesting story cooked up for both of those characters, and part of that story required that they be under house arrest.
In Avengers: Infinity War, we hear that the events of Civil War were too hard on Clint Barton and Scott Lang's families, so they were both on house arrest. This explains their absence from the film, but as the Russo Brothers talked about on MTV's Happy Sad Confused podcast, this is more than just a way to write them out of Infinity War. It actually has to do with their other MCU stories, presumably in Ant-Man and the Wasp and Avengers 4. How that house arrest will be a part of those respective stories should be interesting. These are the two characters with full families they have to think about. It seems likely this will find them caged, with responsibilities to their families on and the law on one hand and the fate of the world on the other. I imagine the story choice the Russos speak of will be an emotional one.
The absence of Ant-Man, more so than Hawkeye, actually makes a ton of sense given that Ant-Man and the Wasp takes place between Civil War and Infinity War. Had Ant-Man shown up in Infinity War, it may have taken away a bit from his own movie coming out this summer. By keeping his current situation a bit of a mystery, it sets up Ant-Man and the Wasp to still surprise us and Scott Lang's eventual team-up with the rest of the surviving heroes (assuming he survives Thanos' finger snap) all the more exciting. We've also seen Scott Lang under house arrest in the trailers for Ant-Man and the Wasp and basically know that will play a role in his story. How the house arrest affects Hawkeye differently remains to be seen.
As far as Hawkeye was concerned, his absence was the one that stood out the most to fans. Unlike Ant-Man, Clint Barton has been an official member of the Avengers and fought by their side in multiple conflicts, so his absence was noticed. Given the end of Infinity War, it seems that at least a portion of Avengers 4 will focus on the core team from the original Avengers, in a swan song sort of way. Hawkeye is a part of that team and should get his due alongside other Infinity War characters that didn't have as much to do like Captain America and Black Widow. The speculation that Hawkeye will return as Ronin is also still on the table. The Russo Brothers have spoken about Hawkeye's story being a long play and
Avengers: Infinity War is in theaters now. Although we may not see Hawkeye until next year, you can see Scott Lang again soon when Ant-Man and the Wasp hits theaters on July 6th. For all the latest in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the continuing game of where in the world is Clint Barton?, keep an eye on CinemaBlend.