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The Avengers: Endgame timeline, as explained by Hawkeye's tattoo
Marvel released a new trailer for the highly anticipated Avengers: Endgame, and while the new spot featured Iron Man and Captain America's reunion, a Pepper Potts sighting, and Thanos' first official Endgame appearance, the most talked-about part of the trailer was Hawkeye's new ink.
Having already showed his "cool" new haircut off in the previous trailer, Hawkeye rocked a sleeveless shirt in Tuesday's clip, revealing an elaborate tattoo of a skeletal samurai covering his entire left arm. The tattoo is likely a nod to the character's one-time comics identity of Ronin, a name he borrowed from the masterless samurai from Japan's feudal period. Presumably, Clint Barton's family got dusted when Thanos snapped his fingers at the end of Infinity War, and getting this tattoo is the hero's way of grieving.
Clearly, Clint has gone through a lot in the time between Infinity War and Endgame, but just how much time has passed? Can his tattoo help us figure out a timeframe for Endgame?
It's important to note that we do not know with certainty that Clint got the tattoo after the events of Infinity War, though that would certainly make sense. He did not have the tattoo in his last appearance, 2016's Captain America: Civil War, as can be clearly seen in his costume, which exposes most of his left arm.
After he's taken into custody at the end of Civil War, Hawkeye cuts a deal with the feds, as Black Widow reveals in a throwaway line of dialogue in Infinity War. Clint is a family man with kids, just like fellow hero Ant-Man, who cut a similar deal as seen in Ant-Man and the Wasp. Scott Lang's deal put him on probation, subject to house arrest for two years. It's possible that Clint received a lighter sentence, perhaps because of his past exemplary service with S.H.I.E.L.D., but that doesn't seem especially relevant.
Clint had to be coaxed out of retirement for Civil War because he wanted a quiet farm life with his wife and kids. He wouldn't need to be subject to house arrest to want to stay with his rural family, which makes it seem unlikely that he got this scary tattoo while living a peaceful life as a dad and a farmer.
But, if that family were to suddenly turn into ash? That's the type of thing that could drive a man to get a big ol' tattoo. Heck, Ben Affleck got that giant phoenix tattoo on his back, and that was only because Jennifer Garner divorced him. Watching your wife and children die while you, a "superhero," are powerless to save them, certainly seems worthy of a big tattoo if Affleck's was.
So, assuming that Clint got the tattoo after Infinity War, after his family died, how long would he have spent in a tattoo artist's chair, and how long would he have waited for such a big piece to heal before he could be firing off arrows again?
"Realistically, a tattoo like that could be done in one sitting if the client was hard as nails and the artist had the stamina to sit and do it," Chris Morris, a Birmingham tattoo artist whose portfolio includes lots of fittingly geeky pieces, explained to SYFY WIRE. "For the average Joe we'd probably break it up into two or three sessions, but it's not unheard of for people to smash it out in one, and I'd like to think Hawkeye could get through it without tapping out."
Even if Hawkeye did grit through the entire sleeve all in one session, it wouldn't have looked as good as it did in the trailer the next day.
"In terms of healing, the larger the area the more time it would take to heal to something on that scale would normally be anywhere between two to four weeks, perhaps longer in some cases," Morris continued. "Again, though, we've seen some of the damage Hawkeye has walked away from, so it's not unlikely that he could heal significantly faster than the likes of us."
"I'd like to think he'd be following his artist's aftercare advice and allowing it to fully heal before getting back to anything too strenuous," Morris concludes. "I have faith that he's enough of a master of his craft to not be hitting himself on the arm with his bowstring when he shoots an arrow anyway." (The tattoo is on Clint's pulling arm, not the one that holds the bow, but the point remains).
Assuming that Clint found one of the 50 percent of tattoo artists who weren't killed during the Snap and got the tattoo done in one marathon session immediately after the dust that used to be his family had settled, we're looking at a minimum of a week since Hawkeye got that tattoo, according to Morris' most liberal estimate. It's likely that Clint probably didn't get the tattoo right away, though, and realistically he probably needed a bit more time for all that ink to have healed, even if he is a superhero.
From the trailers, it's unclear how much time passes in between Infinity War and Endgame, though it seems increasingly likely that there's some sort of time jump within the movie itself. Black Widow still has her short blonde hair in some clips from the trailers, but it's much longer and red again in other shots. There's a theory that the first part of the movie will feature the surviving heroes defeating Thanos, while the second half will follow them as they go back in time, with Ant-Man's help, to undo the Snap. Hawkeye does not appear to be flying into space with the heroes in a scene that's seemingly close to the events of Infinity War in the second trailer.
It seems relatively safe to infer from this that Hawkeye is not part of this initial Avengers mission, though he's later seen suited up in the new red and white suits in a scene from a later time period, as evidenced by Black Widow's longer hair.
Perhaps Hawkeye doesn't partake in this first mission to space because he's grieving the deaths of his family. Or, perhaps, he doesn't fly to space to fight Thanos because he doesn't want to mess up the awesome new tattoo he just got.
We'll find out for sure on April 26 when Avengers: Endgame hits theaters.