WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the first two episodes of Hawkeye, now streaming on Disney+.
With the new Hawkeye series premiering on Disney+, fans can finally get a more intimate glimpse at the life and times of Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner). But rather than rediscover the character alone, fans get to see what it's like to meet a superhero through the eyes of Kate Bishop (Hailie Steinfeld). However, she quickly discovers that heroes aren't always as they appear to be, as she learns that Clint is suffering from hearing loss. But what factors contributed to the character's disability in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
Clint gains his disability through various reasons in the comics, including a self-inflicted wound and constant abuse from his father. However, the modern comics streamlined this story by retelling it in Hawkeye #15 by Matt Fraction and David Aja. In the story, Clint is attacked by The Clown, an assassin working with the Tracksuit Draculas. After an ambush, the Clown stabs Clint in the ear with his own arrow, permanently making him deaf. But with the Clown not being introduced in this new series, the story behind Clint's ailment had to be altered.
Clint's hearing loss is first introduced during his and his family's visit to see Rogers: The Musical. Clint turns off his hearing aid during the show, so he can't hear it at all. However, his family has worked with him to help overcome his newfound obstacle by learning sign language. His hearing comes up in conversation again in Season 1, Episode 2, "Hide and Seek," when he's talking to Kate in Times Square.
In the scene, Kate asks how his hearing was damaged, and audiences are treated to a montage of events from the Infinity Saga. Some of the scenes include his raid on Baron Von Strucker's compound in Avengers: Age of Ultron, where an energy blast shot him. The montage then cuts to the massive explosion from Avengers just as he dives off the roof and swings to a lower floor. Finally, the massive explosion that destroys the Avengers compound in Avengers: Endgame seemed to be the final nail in the coffin for Hawkeye's hearing. But when Clint answers Kate, he brushes it off, saying "too much to tell."
It makes sense for Clint to keep his personal problems to himself as his training has often shown that he only tells his closest friends and family the secrets to his life. As a result, he was likely dealing with these issues for longer than any of the Avengers ever knew. But even with his own ailments, it never stopped him from joining the fight and doing anything he could to help.
Clint Barton is easily the most human and relatable member of the Avengers. His loss of hearing shows that even though he spends time with gods, he is still a human who must deal with the real consequences of his fantastic adventures. But even though he has another obstacle to overcome, he never stops being a great dad and hero to those he cares about.
To see Clint deal with his hearing loss, the first two episodes of Hawkeye are available to stream on Disney+.
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