It’s been a very weird summer for one Jeremy Renner. You’d think that the two-time Oscar-nominated actor would be riding on Easy Street after starring in Avengers: Endgame, the biggest movie of all time. He’s one of the first-phase Avengers, an acclaimed actor with blockbuster clout, a multi-millionaire with a successful house-flipping business, and plenty of people think he’s an aesthetically pleasing individual. With a career like that, why would you need to do anything else, especially when you’ve got your own upcoming TV series?
Well, as you probably know by now, Renner decided to take a different route, and over the past few months, I and many other people have become oddly fascinated by the machinations of his business endeavors. First, there was his recently shuttered app, a curious experiment that was just too pure for this dark world. Then Renner decided to give singing a go and released a series of songs that all sound like Imagine Dragons rejects that your great aunt definitely has playing in the background at every family BBQ. Neither of these choices was especially easy to understand, but they were an open book compared to Renner’s most recent business endorsement. Did you know he has an Amazon store? Oh yeah, this is the world we live in, my friends.
Visit the site and you'll see The Jeremy Renner Store, advertised with a banner featuring Renner himself fishing on the open waters of a picturesque river or lake. He looks focused, committed to the craft, and just a tad self-serious. Other images include him tending to a fire and looking at you, the curious visitor, with binoculars in his hands, as if you are the prey (or his arriving Uber driver waiting to get him back to set). A quote from Renner himself is there, ready for you to right-click and save for Pinterest:
"Nature is therapeutic to me, always has been. Living in the mountains at elevation, with no traffic, clean air, clean water, and being surrounded by the oldest living things on the planet is nothing short of majestic ..."
So say we all, Renns. So say we all.
If you too are looking to live that Renner-endorsed outdoors life, then he has handpicked a plethora of items to help you get ready for the wonders of nature. As if befitting of Hawkeye, there’s plenty of archery gear to choose from. Do you need fishing gear? How about an ozone air purifier? I know you can't do without bath treatment for poison ivy, and frankly if you can't trust Jeremy Renner to recommend you the best beef jerky and frontiersman bear spray, then who can you trust?
Can you see why we’re so baffled?
For the majority of casual moviegoers, Jeremy Renner is Hawkeye first and foremost. How could he not be defined by the character he plays in the biggest and highest-grossing movie franchise of all time? He’s also an actor who has chosen very deliberately to maintain his movie presence as a mainstream entity. Sure, he’s done his share of adult dramas and the like, but you’re more likely to see him in blockbusters and titles designed to appeal to as large an audience as possible. In short, he’s someone who wants to be an A-Lister, the kind of celebrity with worldwide name recognition and a personality so instantly definable that audiences will recognize it without even thinking about it. We don’t necessarily make those kinds of celebrities anymore, at least not so much in Hollywood. There are still the Tom Cruises, the Dwayne Johnsons, and the Leonardo DiCaprios of the world, but in an age of genre domination and franchise filmmaking, the product matters more than the star. It’s not enough to just be an actor in a movie that makes close to $3 billion: You need to influence and expand and ensure your status as a polyglot. That’s what Jeremy Renner is doing: He’s securing his cultural omnipresence in ways that help to redefine him and make a few dollars on the side.
That doesn’t seem so baffling, and yet there is still something about Renner and his Summer of Choices that leaves us scratching our chins like quizzical Victorian detectives. We have to crack the code somehow, surely. Yet, at least for me, I have trouble squaring the persona of Jeremy Renner I and most people know with the one he’s presenting to the world for sale. Frankly, I just don’t buy that Renner is that kind of outdoors mountain man. There are certain celebrities I could buy this whole enterprise from. Hell, there are other Avengers I could see it being a more fitting operation for. Even if Chris Evans isn’t a hunter or man of the woods, he still feels like a more appropriate fit to shill bear spray (although I am committed to my fantasy that Evans would simply hug any and all bears into submission).
All that this confusion has done is highlight how Jeremy Renner, a bona fide star, is still something of a malleable public presence, one who isn’t as fully formed as Robert Downey Jr. but is still too famous to dismiss entirely. The benefit of this, at least for him, is that it allows him the freedom to commit to business choices like this. Honestly, it may be the savviest move to make. It’s not enough to be a megastar anymore. Even the most famous among us in the genre world have become influencers.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBC Universal.