If there's one member of the team who drew the short straw during the first "Avengers" outing, it was definitely Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye, the killer sharpshooter who, at the very beginning of the movie, was hypnotized by Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and basically spent the rest of the movie as a zombified henchman, going up against the rest of the heroes until the climactic final battle (which, admittedly, was pretty darn cool). If there was one vibe we got from Renner, on the set of the sequel "Avengers: Age of Ultron," it was relief: relief that he was back, that he gets to do more, and that he's no longer a marginalized member of the team.

And that kind of brittle edge, that eagerness to prove himself, fits perfectly with the Hawkeye character, who one can only assume has a larger chip on his shoulder from being left out of much of the world-saving the last time around. We got to chat with Renner in between superhero theatrics on the London set of "Avengers: Age of Ultron," and got a much better sense of how Hawkeye fits in with the team, now that he's no longer hypnotized or possessed or whatever happened to him in the first "Avengers."

We first asked how he would be different, and Renner was quick to point out that it was stuff that had been discussed but never implemented from the first film. "It's a lot of the stuff that Joss and I talked about to doing the first one but it just didn't work out that way," Renner explained, straining to be diplomatic. "So, it was really exciting for me and Joss to dive into the character a little bit more. There's some wonderful secrets and relationships deepen. And there's a lot more of him to deal with versus the hypnotized version of him, you know." Oh we know.

When asked about his relationship to the two new members of the team -- Elizabeth Olsen's telekinetic Scarlet Witch and Aaron Taylor-Johnson's speedster Quicksilver -- Renner said that he would be keeping on eye on them (even if one of them runs so fast they're a smudgy blur). "I think I'm the one policing them to see if they're worthy or not. I question them a lot. I mean, he's always very skeptical of new people, 'cause it's, it's sort of -- it's military kind of thinking in the sense of like, I have to trust that you have my six or you have my back while I'm trying to manifest something up here." (Don't worry his connection with Black Widow is still explored. "They have a, a long, long history together and there's more of that revealed in this as well," Renner promised.)

And one nagging question Renner addressed was where, exactly, Hawkeye has been, since he's a member of S.H.I.E.L.D. but was absent for the fairly catastrophic events of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" (and all of the "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." TV series). "You'll know in this movie, where he's been," Renner said, before chuckling. He then elaborated (slightly): "It's actually a really wonderful secret reveal. Pretty awesome." (Later he elaborated: "He's not really a company man.")

We had heard a lot about how different the shooting experience was from the actual screenplay the actors had been first handed, so the question was asked of Renner -- just how different is what they're shooting to what he read? "The bones of it were always there and the script that we got was, was really solid and great. Then, as we go along, there's more things we find as in any movie. There's so much to cover. I don't know how Joss does it. All I have to focus on is my small, little parts. Like I ask, What the heck's being built over me?" Renner elaborated (while laughing): "I have no idea [laughs] what's going on. I mean this world and all the things going on in this movie is just so vast. For the most part the script is what it was when we started and you make minor adjustments here and there for clarity. Like I said: it's a big, big, big movie."

Of course, the question arose that always arises (especially after Matt Fraction's recent, all-star run on the comic books): will Hawkeye get his own spin-off movie? First Renner shot back with: "I don't know." Then: "I mean no." Then: "Well, I mean there's always opportunity in the Marvel universe to jump into a lot of different scenarios, but it only makes sense, I think that as an outsider that Captain America, those sort of things, he fits into that world pretty well, since they're so similar in their sort of military kind of ideals." Renner went on: "Like Hawkeye's not in Thor." [Nerdy editor's note: Hawkeye actually debuted, as a character, in the first "Thor."] "It's really hard to imagine that but they leave it pretty wide open for a lot of different venues, a lot of different scenarios to have." Finally, Renner sounded someone exasperated and just said: "I do not know the future. I'm just happy to be doing it now."

As to whether or not he'd go into the TV series, it seems like something that has also been discussed. "There was talk of having some of the guys go up and jump onto TV show. I remember mentioning something about that. Again, there has to be a good rhyme or reason for it and I like the character enough and anything to explore him more, I'm always open to it. He's obviously not had a franchise of his own to really deeply explore really who Hawkeye is." Then Renner added: "I've always liked to explore the guy more."

It also sounded like, in addition to Hawkeye being more of a member of the Avengers, that the actors were more cohesive this time around. "I saw Downey, like, twice in the last Avengers. And this one we're all together a lot more. So that makes it really, really great." But not without it's headaches: "It's also tedious when we shoot it, because there's so many people to cover. And there's so many storylines to tell, but it makes the off-camera stuff just so much more fun."

Renner then went on to describe his preferred mode of work. "I personally like to go to work and just work and knock out some action sequences and get it done and we do that, when we're all together, it's really great fun. It is a really wonderful family unit," Renner explained. "It's the best part of doing a big, crazy action movie like this, which usually can be quite unfulfilling as an artist, but because all the people involved in this are so great, it just makes coming to work every day really, really joyous." Not exactly as brooding as Hawkeye, huh?

"Avengers: Age of Ultron" hits theaters May 1.
categories Interviews, Movies