Hawkeye gets a bad rap amongst casual comic book fans because of his choice of gear. In a universe with gods, monsters, and robot overlords, it does seem a bit silly that a guy with arrows is counted among the “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes”. Still, there’s a reason why Hawkeye remains a senior Avenger to this day.
Hawkeye is one of the most skilled non-powered individuals on the roster. His versatility of trick arrows, incredible marksmanship, stealth expertise, and general badassery make him a valued member of the world’s mightiest heroes. One need not look further than the victories he’s achieved over the years.
The Man Without Fear found himself taking on more than he could handle when faced with Hawkeye. While it’s true that Daredevil is tougher and more brutal than Hawkeye in CQC, he’s not called “Puncheye”. Instead, Hawkeye used his bow to keep the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen at bay.
Not to mention, Daredevil has access to sonic arrows, which is one of the weaknesses that Daredevil has. Hawkeye outright states that he could have ended the fight at any time if he felt like it. This encounter in Daredevil Vol. 1 #99 is a good showcase of how Hawkeye fares against street tiers.
The Winter Soldier
The Winter Soldier is one of the most skilled soldiers in the Marvel universe. Trained by Captain America himself, Bucky was eventually turned into a ruthless assassin. He’s so dangerous that Clint’s friend, Black Widow, cautions Cap on dealing with him. Even as a hero, Winter Soldier is a threat.
Still, as Ronin, Clint Barton was able to swiftly take down the former sleeper agent in Hawkeye Freefall #1. Not only that, he did so while holding back against a Winter Soldier flanked by other heroes. He may be a soldier, but Clint Barton has faced several super soldiers in his years as a secret agent,
The Thunderbolts are a government-controlled superhero team populated by supervillains on parole. They are all experienced criminals, mercenaries, and fighters in their own right. The roster composed of Moonstone, Songbird, Mach-1, Atlas, and Jolt was handily defeated by the senior Avenger in Thunderbolts Vol. 1 #21.
This fight in question was a training exercise where Hawkeye told the team to not hold anything back. He even comments on their fighting styles as they fight, advising as he kicks their butts. Reluctantly, he gains the respect of that particular roster, and they allow him to lead them into battle.
Yes, quite surprisingly, Hawkeye has fought himself on more than one occasion. The first time was against an android clone of his named Sagitarrius, with whom he was equally matched in West Coast Avengers Vol. 2 #27. The second, was as Ronin when he fought The Falcon, The Winter Soldier, and a past version of himself.
It’s a complicated story, but the point is, even against himself, Hawkeye still has a couple of surprises up his sleeve. It takes a lot of skill and experience to be able to fight yourself, especially the version that was a senior Avenger already. Plus, it’s a way to say that only Hawkeye can kick his butt.
In Generations: Hawkeye and Hawkeye, Clint Barton comes face to face with Taskmaster, the mercenary with a photographic memory and reflexes. Taskmaster has managed to keep up with the likes of Spider-Man, but he soon finds his match against the “unpowered” Hawkeye.
Unbeknownst to Taskmaster, Hawkeye has had plenty of experience fighting himself. This match was nothing new to Clint, and after Taskmaster spends a few seconds too long monologuing, he evens the scales by using a trick arrow Taskmaster had never seen before. Hawkeye doesn’t showboat, he just wins.
Captain America is widely considered by many to be the peak of all the super soldiers. His strength and vitality are no joke. His military training and incredible read of his opponent’s skills make him a fearsome opponent one-on-one. Well, unless you’re Hawkeye that is, as Cap painfully finds out in Hawkeye: Blindspot Vol. #2.
After being framed for a crime, Hawkeye is chased by Captain America for interrogation. Hawkeye, the rebel that he is, refuses to be caught by his friends and runs for it. When Cap finally corners him, Hawkeye swiftly disables Cap’s shield and outmaneuvers him with a swift taser arrow to the chest. Skilled as he is, Hawkeye was willing to play dirty while Cap wasn’t.
Yes, it does seem ridiculous that trick arrows could beat Iron Man of all people. After all, bows and arrows are nothing compared to sleek armor and repulsor rays. This was exactly what Hawkeye was counting on in Tales of Suspense Vol. 1 #57. Laughing at the “mere arrows” at first, the arrows quickly start to destroy his armor.
Hawkeye had placed a special chemical on the arrows that rusted the armor to the point of immobility. In their very first fight, Hawkeye won without even breaking a sweat. This is a reminder that no matter how powerful a person is, the element of surprise is always an equalizer.
In Hawkeye v Deadpool, Clint Barton is brainwashed by a terrorist sect known as “The Patriots”. During this time, Clint handily defeats Deadpool and Kate Bishop, although to be fair, they weren’t ready for his sudden turn. Still, the fights after the first encounter were not out of surprise.
Kate and Deadpool try and take down their rogue friend but to no avail. He’s simply too skilled. It’s a testament to that skill that Hawkeye just broke out of mind control on pure luck. Both Deadpool and Kate are quite ashamed of the defeat and convince the sane Clint that “he just ran away” while brainwashed as opposed to wiping the floor with them.
Vision is, by all accounts, the “good” version of Ultron, except he also has an infinity stone on his forehead. Vision is a heavy hitter in his own right. Still, Visions has gained a bit of a reputation as a “jobber” in the comics because of how many times he’s been killed. While this didn’t end with murder, Hawkeye has put one over on the android.
In Avengers/Thunderbolts #6, he gets the drop on Vision and shoots him with a specialized arrow that disrupts his android body, damaging him severely. People often forget that Hawkeye is a spy first and a fighter second. He’s not out to fight foes one-on-one, he is tasked to take out targets as swiftly and silently as possible. Even if it’s the likes of Vision.
The Hulk is one of the biggest threats in the Marvel Universe. The Illuminati, rather foolishly, thought that sending him to another planet would be enough. He just came back even madder. Bruce Banner is aware of how dangerous The Hulk is, and so, he trusts Clint Barton with one thing: a gamma-infused arrow.
If he ever goes on a rampage again, Bruce Banner trusts Hawkeye to be able to put him down. This doesn’t just speak to Hawkeye’s skill, but his character. Bruce has a rough relationship with everyone in the Avengers, except for Clint Barton. Even when Bruce did come back after being killed by Hawkeye, he had no hard feelings. Hulk does, however, but that’s neither here nor there.
NEXT: 10 Most Powerful Hulk Villains In Marvel Comics