When Avengers: Age Of Ultron came out in 2015, “Clintasha” fans were disappointed when director Joss Whedon decided to pair Black Widow with a romantic partner who wasn’t Hawkeye. After all, the two characters shared a lot of chemistry on screen when they first interacted in the original Avengers movie. Age Of Ultron, however, also introduced Clint Barton’s wife Laura, and their children, as the story went on.
In the comics, the two are on-again-off-again lovers, with their romance lasting for over 50 years. Throughout this time, plenty of events have occurred to bring the superheroes together. However, some of these occurrences have also pushed them farther apart. Their fondness for each other marked the first time that they were close with anyone in the comics, predating other relationships that the two had later in numerous runs. Both Black Widow and Hawkeye are defined by their pain, and both found solace in one another during dire circumstances. When their backs are against the wall and they’re fighting off swarms of enemies, they know that they can both depend on one another.
Updated on January 19th, 2022 by Amanda Bruce: While Marvel Cinematic Universe fans might not get to see a romantic relationship play out between Black Widow and Hawkeye on the big screen, there’s a lot more to this duo than simply romance. They’re frequent mission partners, Avengers teammates, and even, sometimes, enemies in Marvel comics. They have a lot of similar skills which allow them to work well together, but they also have very different philosophies when it comes to being a hero.
BLACK WIDOW AND HAWKEYE REGULARLY LEAVE THE AVENGERS BEHIND
Though MCU fans best know them as S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who became members of the Avengers, they don’t spend all of their time with either team. In fact, both characters tend to go rogue on a pretty regular basis. Sometimes, Hawkeye walks away because he just wants a break, while other times, he ends up mentoring new heroes, like members of the Thunderbolts or Kate Bishop.
For her part, Black Widow frequently finds herself pulled back into her past. She tends to take on missions solo when they involve the Red Room or old targets. They both understand the need for solo assignments, but back each other up when the situation calls for it.
THEY HAVE THE SAME MCU S.H.I.E.L.D. CLEARANCE LEVEL
While clearance levels and rankings fluctuate quite a bit in the comics, the same isn’t true of what fans see in the MCU. Clearance levels rank from consultants (or a nonexistent Level) for the spy organization to the director (Level 10).
Because both Natasha Romanoff and Clint Barton frequently work with Phil Coulson as their field commander, a detail revealed in the first season of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., they are both ranked at Level 7, the same as Agent Coulson, before the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. According to the television series, that would indicate they have a high enough clearance level to know Coulson is brought back to life after the events of the Avengers movie, but with the movies and TV arm of the MCU originally kept separate, that’s never addressed.
THE MCU INITIALLY INTENDED TO EXPLORE THEIR FRIENDSHIP FURTHER
When Iron Man 2 was in development, rumors persisted that both Black Widow and Hawkeye were meant to appear in the movie, with multiple Marvel sources reaching out to different outlets. Ultimately, Hawkeye didn’t make the cut, though he did have a cameo in Thor as his MCU debut.
Rumors also persisted that Hawkeye was set to appear on the run with Black Widow in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Instead, it was Falcon who was introduced to the MCU there. If the original rumored plans had gone through, the audience would have been able to see a bit more of their friendship.
THEIR RELATIONSHIP WAS REPLACED IN THE MOVIES
It’s pretty strange that director Joss Whedon decided to match Bruce Banner and Black Widow together in Avengers: Age of Ultron, especially considering the other characters that Black Widow has been with in the comics. What’s even stranger, however, for long-time fans is that Hulk and Black Widow never got together in the comics.
Whedon is on record that he didn’t like the fact that Hawkeye and Black Widow couldn’t have a relationship without it getting romantic. Instead, he paired both Captain America and Hawkeye off with different partners, while Black Widow got together with the Hulk. “We don’t directly translate the comics to the films,” said director Joe Russo. “Why go see the films when you know how it’s going to end?”
NEITHER HAVE REAL SUPERPOWERS
While most Marvel heroes are defined by their mutant powers or are the results of experiments, Clint Barton grows bitter over the fact that Iron Man is just a normal person assisted by a bunch of high-tech gadgets. Convinced that he can do exactly what Tony Stark can, he tailors a purple costume that would make any Grimace cosplayer jealous and adds specially-fitted tips to his weapon.
Black Widow had some solid training in Russia’s Red Room programmed, but she is also outfitted with an arsenal of high-tech gadgets and wrist-mounted energy blasters. Her life has been prolonged thanks to experimentation in the comics, but she’s not a super-soldier on the same level as Captain America or Hulk. Both Hawkeye and Black Widow are efficient when it comes to performing martial arts and taking out baddies, but they lack anything that makes them necessarily “super.”
THEY’VE BOTH DATED SEVERAL OTHER PEOPLE
Natasha has dated several characters in the comics. Most notably, Natasha has been attached to Winter Soldier, Captain America, Daredevil, and Hercules. Hawkeye has also dated his fair share of characters, though some relationships have been harder for him than others.
For example, Hawkeye left the Avengers in a fit of jealousy after Scarlet Witch dumped him for Vision. However, in the Ultimates universe, he’s married to a woman named Laura and has three children, which is what inspired his MCU family. During the Hawkeye mini-series, he teams up with Mockingbird, and the duo are eventually married in Hawkeye #4. Their relationship is further developed in West Coast Avengers, leading up to her demise in Avengers #100.
THEY WERE ALMOST MARRIED
Natasha was previously married to Alexei Shostakov before she defected to the U.S. This happened when the Red Guardian faked his own passing to become a spy for sinister purposes. In the Ultimates universe, she allures Tony Stark in The Ultimates Vol. 2 #4.
She also dated Hawkeye for while. The two were actually engaged for a time before she broke up with him to pursue a career as a vigilante. The love affair has been an on and off again issue with Marvel fans, though it has never been explored in the MCU.
THEY ARE OKAY WITH BEING PLATONIC
During a personal chat with Mockingbird, Clint mentions his work relationship with Black Widow in Secret Avengers #3, saying, “Exes or not, we can work together. We’re professionals.” During Tales of Suspense #100-104, former Black Widow exes Hawkeye and Winter Soldier team up with Black Widow to rid the world of a bunch of Natasha clones, creating a buddy dynamic between the three despite the previous romantic tension.
The platonic relationship is emphasized in the MCU, where Clint has a family and Natasha is smitten with Bruce Banner. In the MCU, Clint and Natasha are extremely close friends.
THEY BOTH HAVE LENGTHY CRIMINAL HISTORIES
Following his Avengers affiliation, Hawkeye takes over the Thunderbolts from Baron Zemo and allows himself to get arrested in their place, permitting their crimes to be absolved under the eye of the law in Thunderbolts #50.
Natasha used to be a KGB agent and was a soldier for her country, where she committed numerous unforgivable acts. Similar to how Bucky Barnes was forgiven in Captain America: Civil War, Black Widow has also admitted to being manipulated. However, this doesn’t stop her from committing more evil deeds. Hawkeye and Black Widow were later convinced by Agent Coulson to adapt S.H.I.E.L.D. memory implants by using their “lengthy criminal records” against them in Secret Avengers #1. In the Ultimates universe, their paths get even darker; Natasha aids the Liberators in invading the U.S. and Clint rots in prison during the beginning of the series.
HAWKEYE’S ATTACKS AREN’T FATAL, BUT BLACK WIDOW’S ARE
Hawkeye was a normal man who was inspired by superheroes and was disgruntled by capitalist society. When Clint refused to serve S.H.I.E.L.D. during Secret Avengers #5, Nick Fury retorts that he has already taken out several enemy soldiers. Clint then responded that war combat was not the same thing as performing jobs of nefarious nature.
“First thing it says on my dating profile – I don’t [take the lives of others],” Hawkeye said in Secret Avengers #5. This was all changed in The Ultimates, however, where Hawkeye hit Black Widow with an arrow between her eyes for betraying the Avengers and taking out his family. While, for the most part, Clint refuses to take the lives of others, Black Widow does not follow the same code.
DIFFERENT PEOPLE HAVE TAKEN ON THEIR MANTLES
Prior to Black Widow’s introduction in 1964, there was another character who used the arachnid title. However, this character’s real identity was Claire Voyant. Claire had nothing to do with the KGB, though – she was a satanist with a flare for spiritism. There were also other characters who took up the mantle. After Natasha joined S.H.I.E.L.D., Yelena Belova became the second Black Widow in her absence.
One of Hawkeye’s successors, Kate Bishop, was part of the Young Avengers and became Hawkeye while Clint was Ronin. During this time, he pushed her to her mental and moral limits. Clint also stole the Goliath serum from Hank Pym and adapted his powers in an effort to rescue Black Widow. He used the moniker until Avengers #109, when he returned to roots.
THEY SHARE TRAGIC BACKSTORIES
Born in Russia, Black Widow’s parents perished when enemies torched her home. Natasha was soon recruited by the KGB as an operative. During this time, she trained as a spy and was frequently utilized by the group to further their goals. However, in other tellings, Black Widow has been portrayed as an orphan who was raised by Ivan Petrovich. Ivan brainwashes her into becoming a Soviet spy.
Meanwhile, in Hawkeye: Blindspot, Clint’s father is abusive. After his parents perished in an accident, Swordsman takes Clint and his brother on as his proteges. After Swordman proves himself as a ne’er do well, Hawkeye takes out the criminal with ease. Hawkeye, however, is framed. “I never intended to be an outcast or an enemy of society,” Clint pleads in Avengers #16.
THEY BOTH HAVE S.H.I.E.L.D. MEMORY IMPLANTS
While meeting with Agent Coulson about doing some freelance work for S.H.I.E.L.D., Hawkeye and Black Widow are soon duped into sacrificing their minds for the organization. Coulson shakes their hands and reveals his ulterior motives, gesturing to a ring that he’s wearing in Secret Avengers #1.
“When we shook hands, a stream of nanoparticles implanted themselves in your skin,” he says. He later goes on to say that, “the remote technology we’ll use to control your memory implants is online and ready.” Later, S.H.I.E.L.D. frontman Nick Fury believes that numerous missions are too sensitive and thus decides to erase them from Black Widow and Hawkeye’s minds, wiping their consciences clean. Clint is opposed to his mind being meddled with (just like in the original Avengers movie), but Natasha accepts it.
THEY WANTED TO TAKE DOWN IRON MAN IN THE EARLY DAYS
When Black Widow and Hawkeye first met, Natasha claimed that “the famous Iron Man is a mortal enemy of mine. Any man who could defeat him would be a man I could learn to love,” in Tales of Suspense #57. Hawkeye immediately bested Iron Man by firing suction arrows lined with a rusting agent at the hero, which caused Tony Stark to shed his armor.
Iron Man later gets his revenge, though. Hawkeye attempts a final shot with a makeshift bomb arrow, but it deflects off of Iron Man’s armor and injures Black Widow, who is nearly obliterated. Later, they attempt to get revenge, kidnapping Happy and Pepper Potts in order to lure Iron Man into a trap.
SHE DEFECTED FROM THE USSR FOR HIM
After failing to get rid of Iron Man for the USSR, Black Widow is taken behind the Iron Curtain to be punished for her failures. She attempts to defect, but her parents are used as leverage. Similar to Winter Soldier getting his head scrambled, Black Widow is also brainwashed into battling the Avengers.
However, after spotting Clint, she is able to use her emotional connection to Hawkeye to prevent the mind control. She then joins the Avengers and defects to the U.S.
BLACK WIDOW IS MORE PRAGMATIC
After discovering that they both have S.H.I.E.L.D. memory chips implanted in their heads in Secret Avengers #5, Hawkeye asks Black Widow why she would go along with it. She replies, “I harbor no illusions for who I do things for. They’ve never hesitated to ask for our bodies, our minds. What kind of fool would I be to believe they’d be concerned for my mind?”
Hawkeye doesn’t like this answer, and Black Widow waves him away, claiming that the next day he’ll forget everything anyway. This is a cold and callous answer from someone who excels at detaching her feelings from assignments. During this time, the two are triggered by a specific codeword to forget everything that they do. This brainwashes them into thinking that they are occupying themselves with activities during their missions. Hawkeye eventually quits the team, and the memory devices are soon destroyed. However, after this, Clint inevitably returns.
THEY WERE BOTH ORIGINALLY VILLAINS
Before his career as a superhero, Hawkeye works at Coney Island, showing off his marksmanship. At one point, a pinwheel attraction goes haywire and Iron Man arrives on the scene, saving the rider. This makes Clint extremely jealous. Jealous of Iron Man’s aesthetic, Hawkeye decides to create a purple costume. He also fits his arrows with specialty tips, claiming that, “Hawkeye is about to make them all look sick,” in Tales of Suspense #57.
After Black Widow originally appears as someone who forces Clint to do her bidding, she returns in a questionable costume in Tales Of Suspense #64 – her mask resembles Hawkeye’s purple one as a symbolic way of professing love to the marksman.
THEY ARE BOTH EXPERT MARKSMEN
Clint, like DC’s Green Arrow, is introduced as a man who has remarkable accuracy. To prove his worth in Avengers #16, he simultaneously triggers three arrows and frees Jarvis from his restrictive bondage. He does this to prove that he could be a useful member of the group.
In the MCU, Clint often brags about his inability to miss a shot. While he seems to make good on this claim, Loki ends up seizing one of Hawkeye’s arrows that is aimed at his head in Avengers. When Hawkeye is searching for Black Widow in Tales of Suspense #100, he is fired at and claims that Black Widow would never miss. Because of her espionage training, she often hits her target as well. The MCU version of her is shown in Red Room target practice as a teen, always hitting her target.
THEY WERE INTRODUCED IN THE SAME SERIES
Black Widow made her debut in Tales Of Suspense #52, where she served as a spy. Writers portrayed her as a counterpart to the anti-USSR storylines of Iron Man, contrasting his capitalist views. Hawkeye was a carnival entertainer in Tales of Suspense #57. Down on his luck, Black Widow meets Hawkeye and shows off her car, immediately capturing his heart.
In fact, Clint describes Natasha as “one of the most beautiful women in the world… the daring, dazzling, dangerous Black Widow!” Their affair lasted for seven more issues of the series before Hawkeye became an on-again-off-again member of the Avengers in #16.
THEY HAVE A HABIT OF SAVING EACH OTHER
Despite the fact that they’re typically able to rescue one another in the movies (Clint’s deprogramming from the mental influence of villain Loki, for instance), the two have had their fair share of close calls in the comic books. In particular, Natasha helped Clint at the beginning of Secret Avengers, tearing off the tendrils of a squid that was invading the archer.
Throughout the Avengers Assembled cartoon series, Black Widow is usually the one who saves Hawkeye while they are having couples-quarrels. Sometimes Hawkeye attempts to return the favor, but in most cases, Black Widow usually rescues herself. In Hawkeye’s first run with Tales of Suspense, he carries Black Widow to safety after she gets caught by pieces of a demolition warhead arrow that Clint fired while fighting Iron Man.
ACTOR JEREMY RENNER HAS A COMPLICATED RELATIONSHIP WITH BLACK WIDOW
According to the LA Times, Hawkeye actor Jeremy Renner has stated that a key aspect of his character is his relationship with Black Widow, who is portrayed by Scarlett Johansson. “The closest thing I could really link to was Scarlett’s character, Black Widow because they have a history,” Renner said.
Unfortunately, Renner has also insulted the character’s promiscuity on Conan, which caused a lot of controversy. He later announced a public apology, claiming, “I am sorry that this tasteless joke about a fictional character offended anyone.” Renner also said in a statement to EW that, “It was not meant to be serious in any way. [I was] just poking fun during an exhausting and tedious press tour.”
SCARLETT JOHANSSON PICKED OUT NATASHA’S ARROW NECKLACE AS A NOD TO HAWKEYE
It’s pretty obvious that the arrow necklace that Black Widow wears in the MCU is an homage to her crime-fighting partner. Scarlett Johansson confirmed as much during a video interview with Rotten Tomatoes. “I think that may have been my little nod to Mr. Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye. I guess you could interpret it in different ways but we thought it would be nice to have something that was a little bit personal for the Widow,” Johansson stated.
“You kind of forget, because she’s such a bada**, you kind of forget that she’s still a woman and that she has her interpersonal relationships in life outside of work,” she said. The character first wears the necklace in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but is seen wearing it again in Avengers: Endgame and Black Widow.
THEY’RE ONLY TEAMMATES
In the Ultimates universe, the two are often paired in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Black Ops division. Similar to the MCU variation of the characters, they aren’t romantic. Instead, the two are strictly platonic. During this time, Black Widow has a dalliance with Iron Man and Hawkeye maintains a normal relationship with a civilian.
After Hawkeye participates in a project that strips a rogue nation of its nuclear capabilities, a traitor within the group retaliates by wiping out his family at their home. When he finds out that the attacker is Natasha, he fires an arrow into her without remorse while she’s at the hospital, effectively erasing his “no demise” policy.
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