We’re now halfway through Hawkeye and each of the three episodes has touched upon Clint’s hearing loss. The first episode saw him turning his hearing aid off during Rogers: The Musical and the second showed a montage of what caused the damage. But the newly released third episode “Echoes” takes things further by putting deafness front and center.
The episode opens by showing us the childhood of Alaqua Cox’s Maya Lopez/Echo. Maya was born deaf and we see her struggling in a hearing school. As she grows she realizes that being deaf allows her to focus on her visual acuity, with her attention to subtle physical movements making her a lethal martial artist.
Maya immediately spotted Clint’s hearing aid when they met, though was disappointed with his limited ASL knowledge and told him that it may be more of a crutch than he realizes. During their subsequent fight, she crushed it under her boot, leaving Clint effectively deaf for the rest of the episode. This left him more vulnerable than usual, particularly when he was reliant on Kate to communicate with his young son.
All this has gone down very well online:
The show’s arc is also in keeping with the comics’ Hawkeye, who has been dealing with hearing loss since the 1980s. Matt Fraction and David Aja’s groundbreaking 2012 run saw Clint becoming fully deaf and learning to live with it. Given how much the Disney Plus show is inspired by that story, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Renner’s Clint ending the show in a similar position
All this is of course very much in line with Stan Lee’s philosophy on ‘disability’ that helped Marvel Comics become a global sensation. Daredevil is probably the highest-profile example, with his blindness allowing his other heightened senses to reveal things sighted people would never detect.
Here’s hoping this positive representation continues in the remaining three episodes.
Hawkeye airs Wednesdays on Disney Plus.