How Hawkeye Deals With Clint Barton's Hearing Loss

It's been ten years now since Jeremy Renner made his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut as Hawkeye in the first "Thor" movie. Finally, a decade later, Hawkeye is about to headline his own solo adventure. He's the last of the six founding Avengers to do so, but when his six-episode series "Hawkeye" premieres on Disney+ next week, he won't be completely alone, since Hailee Steinfeld is also buddying up with him. Steinfeld plays fan-favorite character Kate Bishop, who has history with Hawkeye in Marvel Comics but who is making her first entrance into the MCU with this show. 

Another aspect of Hawkeye's comics history that we haven't seen depicted in the MCU yet is his hearing loss. This is something that the "Hawkeye" series will address, and for star Jeremy Renner, it's something that he can relate to on a personal level, since he himself is hard of hearing. In a recent press conference (via The Illuminerdi), Renner said of his character's hearing loss:

"A lot of that's in my life. I'm only hard of hearing, so I'm not deaf. I thought it was just a really wonderful thing, cause it is, it's always been a part of Clint's character in the comics, and we found a way to make it a truthful entry point for his life and how it affects [his] life. And now, there is a wonderful vulnerability that comes in. There's a lot of ties into other characters because of it, in a fun way, in a negative way, in a positive way, it's really, really interesting there. I found it to be quite a dynamic, interesting ... sometimes an obstacle, sometimes an asset not being able to hear."

Hearing-Impaired Marvel Heroes

Hawkeye's classic comics costume put a pointy purple mask on his face and a big capital "H" on his forehead, but in 2012, after the first "Avengers" movie, writer Matt Fraction and artist David Aja reinvented the character and established many of the tropes that are now making it into this Disney+ series. Fraction was involved in "Hawkeye" in a consulting capacity "throughout the process" of production, and one of the tropes from his comics run that the series is adopting is Clint Barton's open use of a hearing aid.

As Screen Rant notes, Hawkeye's hearing loss dates back to a story from the 1980s when the bang from one of his own sonic arrows left him mostly deaf. By ditching his old mask and showing his ear in close-up, Fraction and Aja's run was able to draw renewed attention to it. It's just one of the challenges Hawkeye will be facing in this series, which — despite its light-hearted Christmas tone — will also see his darker side as Ronin resurface.

Of course, Hawkeye isn't the only hearing-impaired hero in the MCU. Just a few weeks ago, we saw Lauren Ridloff's Makkari, the MCU's first deaf, ASL-fluent hero, arrive in "Eternals." On Disney+ Day, Marvel also announced a future streaming series centered on Echo, a deaf hero with photographic reflexes. Characters like these are helping Marvel make great strides in who and what it is representing onscreen as its movies and shows continue to dominate popular taste around the world.

The first two episodes of "Hawkeye" debut on Disney+ on November 24, 2021.