It's Always Winter in Russia (And the Cold Depths of Grant Ward's Eyes)
I saw “Winter Soldier” a few days ago. I would have seen it earlier, but I had to get “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” out of the way first. Canine time traveller and his young ward? That’s my jam right there. I’d delayed on that too much already, and I was almost at the point of feeling guilty. But I finally saw it, and it was joyous. All’s forgiven? Yeah. We’re good.
Anyway, watching the Captain America movie made me think more on the nature of the organisation of S.H.I.E.L.D. personnel. I’m not really one to question things like Hawkeye’s role on the Avengers. Dude’s an action star. He can pull his weight. He doesn’t have any explicit powers, but he does his thing, and he does it well. Similar things could be said about Black Widow, though her history leaves a bit of room for ambiguity about the possibility of secret Soviet enhancements to which she may have been subject.
But all of that’s fine. People like that are basically just behind Batman by a step or two in terms of narrative superpower. The only big thing that really separates them from the heroes of other action stories with slightly less tenuous ties to the real world is the fact that the nature of a comic book universe leaves them open to comparisons with people who are specifically said to have actual powers. In any case, they prove themselves. Black Widow jumps onto a supersonic alien glider without ripping her arms from her sockets. Hawkeye does his whole blind shot thing. Captain America says, “You can be my wingman anytime.” Something like that.
Notably, Hawkeye does not say, “Bullshit. You can be mine.” But there’s a very simple reason for that: you don’t say that to Captain America. All of them are still dangerous, though. That’s my point.
But then you go and watch “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” because you’re a comic book fanatic with an excess of free time, and you start to wonder. Here’s a show that focuses on a bunch of people who are also dangerous. They don’t have powers either. They don’t even have gimmicks. Do you think that any of them ever feel bothered by the fact that they didn’t make it onto the Avengers roster? Does Grant Ward ever grumble about his position in his organisation when he needs a break from grumbling about everything else?
“Freaking Hawkeye. I don’t see the appeal. Dude’s got a bow. Take away that, then what are you? Not a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist, I’ll tell you that for nothing. Man, I could beat that guy up. Dude’s got, like, eight years on me. And who knows how much mileage. Have you seen his face? Guy needs to exfoliate or something. Don’t he know that perfectly smooth skin is S.H.I.E.L.D. regulation? Even Melinda manages it. Admittedly, she’s Asian, but she’s still probably old enough to be my mother or something. Well, maybe not my mother. This is network television. There’s no room for intimations of incest. Maybe, like, Fitz’s mother. Yeah. I could see myself getting it on with Fitz’s mom. But for Hawkeye not to even keep up with that piece of Christmas cake in the smoothness department is just downright disrespectful. A dereliction of duty, even! He should be given a red card, or whatever it is we do in these mysterious paramilitary organisations. Court-martial? Whatever! But definitely not given an Avengers spot! And I’m on cleanup duty? Fuck that! I mean, look at these cheeks! I’m a slice of prime cut hyperlethal action wrapped up in a baby-bottom visage! With a healthy side order of grimace. And that dilapidated old marksman gets a spot on the starting lineup? What gives?”
I don’t know. Maybe that’s why he shot that lady in the back? .
Best assistant superhero to die, come back, turn evil for a while, and find redemption? In a domino mask?