The first "Avengers" movie was supposed to incorporate Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), a lethal sharpshooter who works for S.H.I.E.L.D. and who, after being briefly introduced in "Thor," would have taken a much larger role in the superhero team-up movie. But then, after being on-screen for about 15 seconds, the character was hypnotized by Loki into doing his evil bidding and ostensibly written out of the movie until the final action sequence in New York City. That's when Hawkeye really shined... the other two hours of the movie, not so much.
So it should delight and surprise just about everyone that Hawkeye pretty much steals the show in this week's "Avengers" sequel, "Avengers: Age of Ultron." A second-run character in everyone's eyes, since he can't fly or turn into a giant green range monster, Hawkeye's humanity ends up being his true superpower and he not only gets the most interesting subplot of the entire, overstuffed spectacle, but he also gets the single best line in the entire movie.
We got to talk to Renner about how much of his character stuff was supposed to be for the first movie, if he would star in a stand-alone film, what he thinks of his Doritos flavor, and we press him for updates on those other two franchises he's a part of: "Mission: Impossible" and "The Bourne Legacy."
Moviefone: When the first "Avengers" came out, you were pretty vocal about the character not being exactly what you had talked to Marvel about. So when you read the script for this one, what was your reaction?
Jeremy Renner: It was a sigh of relief. It was kind of what we had talked about for the first one. But I knew for a very long time what they were wanting to do and then they were finally able to do it. I mean, writing that first "Avengers" movie is almost an impossible feat. And now, knowing what they know now and doing it and that first one being successful, they can sort of dig into the character a little bit more, which I found to be very, very exciting. Finally! Amazing! Can't wait!
How much of it was stuff that you had talked to Joss about for the first one?
A lot of it. But in a different way. I can't really speak to it because there's a lot of things hidden away in this one that mean a lot of different things for a lot of different characters.
Scarlet Witch kind of goes into the Avengers' minds and drudges up their darkest fears, but she doesn't get to do that for Hawkeye. Did you guys ever shoot anything for that stuff?
Well, again, that was part of the whole redemption thing. Since he was hypnotized by Loki last time, eventually everybody gets hypnotized this time around by Scarlet Witch. But I didn't. That was another sort of, for lack of a better word, "f*ck you moment." That was amazing. I really loved that moment in the movie. It was like, Yes! He might only be a human with a bow and arrow, but that doesn't mean that I'm the weakest guy in the thing.
You also get the best line in the movie, when you're explaining to Scarlet Witch how none of this craziness makes sense.
Yes! I love it!
Did you know, while reading it, that it was going to kill. Or did you come up with that on the day?
Well, that little speech to Scarlet Witch, which was definitely in one of the earlier drafts and definitely stayed throughout, which I was happy about since sometimes things get lost. So I thought it was a cool moment and you never know how those things will feel or play. We shot it and it seemed to go well but you never know.
You've seen the final movie, right?
Yes, I have seen the final movie!
There are obviously so many things happening, all the time. Was there anything that you shot that you wish had stayed in the movie?
Actually, I don't think so. That was one of the first things I said coming out of it. I was really, really happy with the movie, and I thought everybody was terrific in it, and the movie was terrific and there were things that I knew, in the back of my head, that didn't make it in, but I didn't miss any of it. I was very happy with what made it in and the end result of it all.
Hawkeye has this amazingly full arc. Where do you think he goes from here?
It's beyond my pay grade. But Kevin [Feige] and others have ideas... I could be dead. I could be a lot of things. But I think they laid a lot of great starting points. What's great about this world is the relationships. They have made some great scenes with other people and other Avengers.
Well, he certainly seems ripe for further exploration. Is a solo movie something that you're ready to do?
Well, I know that there's a lot going on with this character. I never thought about a solo movie and, again, this is beyond my pay grade and not really my decision to make. So it's hard to really want or not want any of these things in my life. But after seeing this movie, I thought, Oh, wow, there's really a lot to explore here. And I thought that for a lot of these characters. I'm not sure what they've got planned, but I'm excited to be a part of it.
It's cool that you're an action figure, but you've also got your own Doritos bag. Have you seen that?
They just showed that to me today! I'm actually drinking a can of Diet Dr. Pepper that I'm on. It's a little weird. A lot of people have action figures, and I call them the touch-myself dolls. Like I don't really want to touch myself. So I find it kind of weird. It looks kind of cool. The Hot Toys action figure is pretty amazing. But I don't want it. Maybe somebody else does. But I don't know what they'd want to do with it.
Your flavor is Chile Limon Dynamite.
[Howls with laughter] I'm hot! I'm en fuego baby! [Continues laughing]
Does Hawkeye scream "Chile Limon Dynamite" to you?
[Laughs] He's a little spicy! I'm not quite sure...
You're so good in "Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol." And you've got another one coming up. How did that turn out?
You know, I don't know a whole lot about that one. I haven't seen it, and it was quite a big movie with a lot of moving parts, so it's hard to speak to. I know that a lot of the boys are back, with Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames and the addition of Alec Baldwin, who is amazing, and of course Tom. So we had good fun and I think there's going to be some really great action. But I'm sure it's going to be a fantastic part of the series.
When you were initially cast in the last movie it seemed like you were being groomed to take over the franchise. Is that still the case?
No, no, no. That's always been Tom's movie. He's never really done any sequels ever. [Super-nerdy editor's note: Cruise starred in "Color of Money," which was a Paul Newman-led sequel to "The Hustler," and had a brief role in "Austin Powers in Goldmember," the third film in that franchise. At the time of Tony Scott's suicide, he was in development for "Top Gun 2" and is currently in talks for a sequel to "Jack Reacher."] But there were no discussions of me taking over, really, but just joining that world, whatever that means. I think they liked the idea of me being the mysterious guy, where you're not quite sure of what my skill set is and what side he's on. I find myself in those roles often. [Laughs] But I have no problem with that. Keep people guessing, keep people guessing...
What's going on with your "Bourne" series?
Yeah, they're going again pretty soon, I think. But I'm not sure what's going on with Aaron Cross and that whole part of that world. Again, that's outside my pay grade. I'm sure they want to make something. But I'm just focused on doing press for this movie and maybe having some lunch. I can't think that far ahead. But I'm sure there are some discussions somewhere, talking about those things.