There are a lot of super people in Avengers: Infinity War. But when Thanos finally arrives to collect all of the Infinity Stones, two key Marvel heroes are strangely absent. Just where in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are Hawkeye and Ant-Man? As revealed in Infinity War, these two superheroes prioritized being super-dads.
Massive spoilers ahead for *Avengers: Infinity War.
In Infinity War, Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Falcon (Anthony Mackie) return to Avengers HQ in New York to regroup, and to repair what was broken from the end of 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. At HQ, the Avengers do, indeed, bring up Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Scott Lang, a.k.a. Ant-Man (Paul Rudd).
In a throwaway line, which you might miss if you sip your soda too loudly, it’s revealed Hawkeye and Ant-Man gave themselves up to the United Nations offscreen, basically entering forced retirement and/or house arrest. Because unlike the other heroes, Clint and Scott are family men, so they chose to stay with their families instead of putting themselves in more danger. And you can’t blame them, because no one in their right mind wants to actually fight Thanos.
Back in 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, the big twist to Hawkeye was that he had a family whose identities and location were kept “off S.H.I.E.L.D.’s books” as a favor to Hawkeye from Nick Fury. And in Ant-Man released that same year, the whole movie was about Scott, a reformed criminal thief, trying to earn the right to be with his daughter Cassie in peace.
Hawkeye retired at the end of Age of Ultron on his own choosing. But the events of Captain America: Civil War in 2016 were too big to ignore. In that movie — also directed by Infinity War directors Joe and Anthony Russo — the United Nations passes the Sokovia Accords, in which the Avengers were forced to register and answer to a U.N.-sanctioned body.
Captain America, the stalwart believer in independence, wasn’t a fan of that idea, especially since Baron Zemo was about to unleash a horde of super soldiers to destabilize the world. So Hawkeye returned — “I’m disappointing my kids,” he tells Wanda — while Cap recruited a new ally, Ant-Man, who again risked being persecuted as a criminal in assisting a known fugitive. When Cap’s side lost, Hawkeye and Ant-Man joined the losing side at “The Raft,” the super prison that holds enhanced individuals (which was brought up earlier this year, in Season 2 of Jessica Jones on Netflix).
So between Civil War and Infinity War, both Hawkeye and Ant-Man willingly put down their mantles in exchange for just one more chance at having a normal life. But as we’ll see in Ant-Man and the Wasp, that’s not going to end very well.
Avengers: Infinity War is in theaters now.