Comics Reviews

Marvel Proved Why Hawkeye Is a Better Avenger Than Iron Man

Iron Man’s weapons may be more advanced and powerful than Hawkeye’s bow and arrow, but the archer proved his superiority during his comic book debut.

Hawkeye’s character is constantly underestimated that it’s even present from his very first appearance. In Tales of Suspense #57, the archer’s introduction is built around his eagerness to prove himself against the heroic Iron Man, establishing early on how often the long-running character would need to justify his position among Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

It may sound doubtable that Hawkeye could beat Iron Man in a fight, but Marvel’s greatest marksman proved he could do just that in his debut appearance. In fact, he proved it twice throughout the course of the story.

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Hawkeye And Iron Man - First Appearance.

Hawkeye’s origins in the comics prove quite different from the MCU more familiar to wider audiences. Hawkeye worked as  circus act performing at Coney Island where his display of marksmanship failed to impress audiences compared to Iron Man’s heroics. Deciding to prove his own worth as an archer, Hawkeye designed several trick arrows and a costume he donned with the intention of becoming an adventurer. When a misunderstanding with a bank robbery led to him fleeing the authorities, he became caught in then villainous Black Widow’s scheme as the Russian spy ensorcelled Hawkeye into her plan to defeat Iron Man.

The comic itself acknowledges the seeming mismatch that should occur between the two combatants, with the cover asking how the Hawkeye’s bow and arrows could even harm “Ol’ Shell-Head.” The answer is that Hawkeye’s trick arrows prove to be more than a match, with his first confrontation with the Armored Avenger seeing the archer pelt Iron Man with a chemical mixture that rapidly rusts his armor. Though Iron Man narrowly escapes by shedding the armor, he again loses to Hawkeye later in the issue even with a fresh set of armor when an exploding arrow stuns him into helplessness. It was only out of his concern for Black Widow that Hawkeye spared Iron Man, but by the issue’s end the winner between the two is clear.

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But shockingly, it seems that the doubt about who would win between the two remains all these decades later. The automatic assumptions about how the pair’s powersets match up prove as unshakeable, and even in the MCU Iron Man displayed an embarrassing confidence in Civil War over Hawkeye that quickly proved faulty. The fact is that Hawkeye is simply the more skilled combatant, taking advantage of his opponent’s arrogance while dodging his attacks and unerringly landing his own devastating trick arrows.

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Such trick arrows are every bit as advanced as Iron Man’s armor, with many utilizing science-fiction technology and materials like Pym Particles or adamantium that would be devastating no matter Iron Man’s defense. And yet the archer is perpetually underestimated, and even after he became one of the earliest members of the Avengers he spent many of his years in service to the team redundantly justifying his own presence. A faltering of confidence in the usefulness of his abilities even spurred Hawkeye to set his bow aside in lieu of powers as Goliath on multiple occasions before, yet he already proved he doesn’t need super powers in his very first appearance.

Looking back on Hawkeye’s first appearance it is remarkable how many of the elements that would define the character are present right from the start. He has the same circus background, many of the same gimmicks, and best of all strong characterization. It takes a special kind of chip-on-the-shoulder attitude to pick up costumed adventuring just because a billionaire’s bodyguard ruined your circus act, and it takes someone even more special to back it up. But backing it up is exactly what Hawkeye does. From his very first appearance to the MCU, it may just be his lot for others to assume his abilities aren’t anything special compared to the other Avengers. But anybody who thinks that is missing their mark.

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