Is Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the Most Underrated Avenger?

Jeremy Renner stars in the biggest franchise in the movies right now, and he’s an acclaimed actor to boot, with two Oscar nominations under his belt. Now some fans think those two worlds should collide. 

These fans argue that Renner’s performance in Avengers: Endgame is award-worthy. Perhaps this is a way to give some recognition to the Rodney Dangerfield of the Avengers – the one who gets no respect. 

Jeremy Renner
Jeremy Renner | Mike Smith/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Hawkeye: From misfit archer to awesome warrior

Hawkeye tends to rank low on the Avengers totem pole because he’s the least flashy of the bunch. He has no powers, with his key skill being aces with a bow and arrow. Even among archers, he’s not as big a deal as Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games movies. 

He’s not the only Avenger without powers — Black Widow doesn’t have any superhuman abilities either, but her martial arts moves made fans clamor for her a standalone movie with her front and center.

Now she’s finally getting that, while Hawkeye is relegated to the small screen on Disney+. For a while, the MCU didn’t seem to know what to do with Hawkeye, who sat out Infinity War completely.

That changed significantly in Endgame. It’s Hawkeye who has the big first emotional arc, when, in the very first scene of the movie, his entire family vanishes after the snap. Seething with anger and grief, he becomes a rogue of sorts, until Black Widow tracks him down so he can help retrieve one of the Infinity Stones. To do so requires one person to make a sacrifice. 

Hawkeye attempts to sacrifice himself, believing he has nothing to live for. Black Widow stops him and she dies instead, leaving Hawkeye successful but bereaved again. 

An Oscar for Hawkeye?

Renner’s intense emotional performance has fans on Reddit arguing that Renner’s performance should be Oscar-nominated. One said: 

“Top acting from Jeremy throughout the film, he gave Hawkeye more depth in just the one film than all his other appearances together, I was expecting him to die for the stone as he’s been so underused throughout the Infinity Saga. I was crying with him once I saw Nat sacrifice herself. The look on his face when he knew his family were back after Hulk’s snap had me in tears again.”

However, as some people in the thread point out, Renner is a long shot at best. He does have two Oscar nominations: The first came as the lead of the Best Picture winner The Hurt Locker, and the second came in Ben Affleck’s underrated crime thriller The Town

If Marvel fans are looking for an Avenger with awards credentials, there’s another, even more obvious candidate: Robert Downey Jr. 

An Oscar for Tony Stark?

After all, Downey is the one who started it all, with Iron Man being the first movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And besides that, Oscar voters love redemption arcs, with Downey and Tony Stark mirroring each other.

Both went through personal turmoil and hit bottom, until both Downey and Tony seized on Iron Man as a way to conquer their demons. And few would argue that Tony had the most dramatic fate of any character in all of the MCU. 

While Downey arguably has a better shot at a nomination than Renner, neither is very likely. Like Renner, Downey has also been Oscar-nominated twice: the first time for Chaplin and the second time for Tropic Thunder

However, history tells us that comic book roles don’t tend to get Oscar nominations, let alone awards. The lone exception so far is Heath Ledger, who won posthumously for playing the Joker in The Dark Knight. And as great as his performance was, the actor’s untimely death must have helped tip the scales in his favor. 

Come next February, Avengers: Endgame will likely end up mainly with technical nominations, so it will settle for the prize Hollywood values above all others: a ton of money.