Next up in my “OMG THE RELATIONSHIPS IN THE AVENGERS ARE AWESOME” is… *drumroll*
Black Widow and Hawkeye!
Natasha “Black Widow” Romanov and Clint “Hawkeye” Barton have both appeared in previous Marvel films. Black Widow was in “Iron Man 2,” and Hawkeye had a bitty part in “Thor” (and a fabulous line: “You’d better call it, Coulson, cos I’m starting to root for this guy.”). We’ve never seen them together, and in fact we don’t see them together until something like halfway through the film.
But how important they are to each other is obvious from the first time their paths cross on screen — Black Widow is in the middle of an interrogation (which involves her being tied up and threatened while she manipulates the baddie into revealing everything) when Coulson calls her and insists she come in. When she refuses, he says the only thing he needs to: “Barton’s been compromised.” She tells him to hold on, beats the shit out of all the baddies, picks up her heels and gets back on the phone to get the details from Coulson.
Part of what makes their relationship so interesting is that so little of it is actually revealed explicitly. It’s almost all implied.
We know that Hawkeye was sent to kill Black Widow, and recruited her instead. He saved her life. Okay. But there’s more going on than that.
When Black Widow smacks Hawkeye in the head, hard, to release him from Loki’s control, he calls her Tasha before passing out. When he asks her if she knows what it’s like to be taken over by someone else, to be unmade, she says quietly, “you know that I do,” and although he doesn’t say anything, it’s obvious that he knows exactly what she’s talking about. Not that we do, mind you.
Then, during the final fight, when the two of them are fighting side by side, Black Widow comments that it’s “just like Budapest.” Hawkeye retorts that “you remember Budapest very differently than I do,” and that’s the last we hear of it. What happened in Budapest?!
Most revealing, however, is what Loki says to Black Widow when he’s trying to bludgeon her with horror:
I won’t touch Barton. Not until I make him kill you slowly, intimately, in every way he knows you fear. And then he’ll wake just long enough to see his good work. And when he screams, I’ll split his skull.
That’s scary enough to hear said about someone you know pretty well, but the way Loki says it and the way Black Widow reacts (and I don’t mean her fake reaction to toy with Loki, I mean how shaken she is later) point to there being some major shit going on here. Barton isn’t just some guy she works with, he’s someone who knows the ways she’s afraid to die. That’s serious intimacy when you’re an international spy/assassin. That’s beyond “oh, they probably slept together.” It’s not romantic (like she says to Loki, “love is for children, I owe the man a debt”), it’s more than that. And Loki knows, because he knows everything Barton knows thanks to the mind-control magic.
There’s very little in the way of hard facts, just bits of dialog dangled before us like bait –but there’s a world in the way Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner play the characters. Their affection for and deep trust of each other is plain in every scene, and it’s not shaken at all by Hawkeye’s time as Loki’s tool. Once she knows Hawkeye is clear of Loki’s magic, Black Widow trusts him enough to vouch for him when he offers to pilot for Captain America and her. Which: damn.
There’s apparently a Black Widow movie in the works, and I am hoping beyond hope that Hawkeye will be in it too, and we’ll get to see more of the two of them!