MCU Clint Barton: An Unexpected Case of Representation.
So I’ve been reading the reactions to Age of Ultron over the last couple weeks with interest, maybe a little dismay, and a lot of head-nodding agreement. I understand most of the points of view, no matter how disparate, especially when it comes to characterization.
When it comes to complaints about MCU Clint Barton, I really do see where people are coming from. I get why they’re upset. It’s not just that he has a family, but it’s also that he’s not quite the snarky, sarcastic and sometimes bumbling guy many of us expected and wanted. You know, the guy who apparently ends up in dumpsters on a regular basis. The one who’s bad at relationships, whose heart is in the right place but who can’t quite seem to make the world work for him.
Now he’s a stable person? A father and husband with a house and life outside of SHIELD? I understand why folks might not like that.
As for me, though, I just had a realization about why I love the MCU Clint Barton, the dad who tears a house apart to make it better for his family, who looks at photos and thinks of them as he’s fighting impossible battles, who comes home to them at the end.
I love him, and here’s why: Representation.
He represents a part of me that is rarely shown in good favor in pop culture in general, and even more rarely in superhero stories.
He’s a parent.
I’m a parent, too, and I realized that the reason I’ve already written four Clint/Laura and family fics in two weeks and why I get excited thinking about more is because he’s representing parenthood in a world where parents hardly ever get a nod. Parents in pop culture generally are usually bumbling idiots or scarring influences who cause lifelong trauma or, even more often, they’re just absent. They’re not important. They’re often confining and awful. As a storytelling device they’re often the reason for the conflict, the catalyst for bad things.
However, to see a parent who is a superhero? To see a parent who clearly loves his kids and his wife and still goes out to fight and protect – and who loves his job as well – and then who comes home at the end of the battle to parent again? That’s cool. That’s a parent I can get behind. That’s a nice change in representation of parents in the media.
So yeah. I like MCU Clint Barton. I like that parenting and family is what has come to define him. I’m good with that. It’s nice to see parents represented in a positive light.
Do I understand why you might not like it? Sure. Definitely.
But for me, it’s a group I’m part of getting some kick-ass representation for once. I’m gonna take what I can get.