Clint Barton is one of the most iconic superheroes in Marvel Universe history. His whole journey through the comics was quite adventurous, starting from his tragic backstory to becoming one of the leaders of the Avengers and numerous other superhero groups. Among the aliens and superpowered creatures, Hawkeye still managed to resurface as an interesting and compelling character in major Marvel events. Of course, tragedies hit Hawkeye as the rest of his fellow superheroes, which affected his health and life as a superhero massively. So, is Hawkeye deaf?
Clint Barton’s deafness was showcased multiple times in the comics. The first hints of his problems with hearing were hinted in the ‘Hawkeye’ comic book run in 1983 when Hawkeye’s injury sustained against Crossfire and his gang made him 80% deaf. During that time, Mockingbird gives him his first pair of hearing aids. Hawkeye’s hearing is restored when he is revived in Franklin Richard’s Counter-Earth, but in notable Matt Fraction’s ‘Hawkeye’ series in 2014, we see Clint Barton trying to cope with his deafness after his ears were pierced by his own arrows by the villain Clown. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Clint Barton is seen having hearing loss after years of battling against evil forces with Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D. in the ‘Hawkeye’ Disney+ show.
Clint Barton might not be the most favorite character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but in the comics, especially after the Matt Fraction run, Hawkeye represents the realistic life of superheroes who are only humans and who suffer the consequences of their dangerous work.
Is Hawkeye deaf in Marvel Comics?
The superhero genre is full of characters with tragic stories which eventually find purpose and use their newfound determination to protect the innocent. Among them is Clint Barton, also known as Hawkeye.
Hawkeye first appeared in Marvel Comics in 1964 and has been a prominent character in the Marvel Universe since then. Barton was part of many notable superhero teams, like Avengers, West Coast Avengers, and Thunderbolts.
However, his childhood wasn’t as shiny as his superhero career because he grew up in an abusive household, particularly his alcoholic father, who consistently beat him and his brother Barney. The alcoholism sees the destruction of the Barton family, with Harold and Edith Barton dying in the car accident and two boys left alone to fend for themselves.
Barney and Clint join the traveling circus and become performers. Clint’s first contact with archery comes from the original Swordsman and Trick Shot, who teaches the young boy everything about combat. However, when young Clint realizes that the Swordsman is embezzling money from the circus, he is beaten and left for dead.
Clint’s brother Barney and Trick Shot also abandoned the boy, who continued working on his archery and became a carnival star. “The World’s Greatest Marksman” and “Hawkeye” were Clint’s performing names as a Tibold’s Traveling Circus member.
After seeing Iron Man fighting crime, Clint decides to try the vigilante lifestyle as well, but when he meets Natasha Romanoff, the Soviet spy at the time, the duo joins together and fights against superheroes.
Tired of being a criminal, Hawkeye meets with Avengers and expresses his desire to join them with the help of Iron Man. The superhero Hawkeye was born, and the rest is history. Of course, over the years, Hawkeye became one of the major characters in Avenger comics, but even the skillful and powerful Clint was getting overpowered by aliens and extraterrestrial threats.
Hawkeye soon started fighting crime, trying to distance himself from Avengers and find his own superhero identity. This is where his hearing problems start. Hawkeye suffers hearing loss after fighting against Crossfire and his gang, making him 80% deaf – the archer puts his ultrasounds arrow in his mouth to stop Crossfire’s attempted brainwashing.
In 1983, Hawkeye got his first hearing aid. However, the controversy around Hawkeye’s disability starts with the “Franklinverse” event, when Franklin Richards subconsciously created a pocket universe called Counter-Earth and saved Avengers, X-Men, and his family.
Hawkeye’s hearing loss was magically healed after the defeat of Onslaught and the consequent restoration of Earth. This angered the fans since it seemed that Marvel only included that part of Hawkeye’s storyline to attract more readers, and when it didn’t feel necessary, they “fixed” the character.
Years have passed since that storyline, but in Matt Fraction’s ‘Hawkeye’ run from 2014, we see Clint Barton being deaf and wearing hearing aids. This particular comic book run was critically acclaimed for introducing the new Hawkeye, Kate Bishop, and Clint Barton’s life post-Avengers and years of fighting against the biggest threats in the universe. We see tired and worn-down Clint, who is struggling with his new life and state, but at the end of the run, we see Clint finally embracing his disability and learning to live with it.
He used sign language and lip reading to communicate with others and later started using hearing aids created by Tony Stark. The reason why I mentioned his childhood was that it was hinted in the same comic book run that his hearing loss could be tracked to his childhood as a result of constant abuse from his father – there is a possibility that Clint successfully hid that part of himself for years.
Is Hawkeye deaf in Marvel Cinematic Universe?
Clint Barton was introduced in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the ‘Thor’ and the first ‘Avengers’ movie, where he works for Nick Fury and is an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. He is the best friend of Natasha Romanoff, and together, they make the secret institution’s most successful pair of agents.
We see him being brainwashed and helping Loki get to the Tesseract, but he eventually redeems himself in the epic battle against the Chitauri aliens. Clint continues to work for the S.H.I.E.L.D. after the Battle of New York until the agency falls to the HYDRA Uprising conspiracy.
After these events, he distances himself from the Avengers business, but the Ultron crisis brings him back. During the battle in Sokovia, Quicksilver sacrifices his life for Hawkeye, who decides to leave the team permanently, dedicating his life to his family.
However, Civil War among the superheroes brings him back, and joins Captain America’s group of heroes, who are against the Sokovia Accords. After being imprisoned in the Raft, he is freed by Steve Rogers, makes a deal with Thaddeus Ross, and decides to be put on house arrest to be with his family.
Thanos’ crisis and his hunt for Infinity Stones bring Hawkeye back, but he suffers great loss when the Mad Titan snaps his whole family from existence. Mad and sad, Hawkeye assumes the mantle of Ronin and slays the criminal and mafia bosses worldwide. Black Widow invites him to help, but he loses his best friend on Vormir to acquire Soul Stone and helps the Avengers to fight against Thanos and his army.
Iron Man dies, Steve Rogers decides to return in time to get his lost years back, and Hawkeye finally retires, mourning the loss of Natasha and the rest of his friends. Now, this is where it gets interesting (at least in the context of this article). In December 2024, Clint wants to spend Christmas with his family but is dragged into the conflict between the Tracksuit Mafia and Kate Bishop, who stole his Ronin suit and put the target of the whole criminal underworld on her back.
This is where we see Clint wearing hearing aids and almost fully deaf without them. Throughout the whole ‘Hawkeye’ show, we see deaf Hawkeye and new and young Kate Bishop communicate to defeat the Tracksuit Mafia and Wilson Fisk, and it was, frankly, the best part of the Disney+ show.
The explanation behind Clint’s deafness comes from various major battles during the Infinity Saga, where we see Hawkeye suffering very painful falls and hits that result in his hearing loss. So yes, in the current MCU timeline and Marvel Comics, Hawkeye is deaf, and it seems that Marvel finally accepted Clint Barton’s disability.
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