It turns out that before Jeremy Renner took up his bow and arrow and became the MCU’s Hawkeye, he had the opportunity to lead a different comic book movie franchise. As baffling as it might sound now, Guillermo del Toro wanted Renner to see red for his 2004 action-fantasy offering, Hellboy.
Renner revealed on Justin Long’s Life Is Short podcast that he was offered “a lot of money” to take the role of Hellboy, which eventually went to Ron Perlman, but he just didn’t want it.
“I was just reading the script and [thinking] like, ‘I don’t get this…’ I just couldn’t connect to it,” Renner explained. “I said, ‘I can’t find a way in [to this character], I don’t know what I’d be doing,’ so I had to say no.”
Looking back, Renner doesn’t think it was a mistake.
“There’s zero regrets, zero. Most of the time it’s like, ‘Oh, I’m glad I didn’t do it,’ and it made sense to me. Not just Hellboy or whatever it was, and I’m not saying that it’s a good or bad movie, it’s not about that… I just wouldn’t have fit there.”
When Marvel started discussing the role of Clint Barton with Renner, however, he found the character to be grounded enough in reality that he felt he could bring something to it as an actor, which he couldn’t manage with more fantastical superheroes.
“When they showed me my character… it’s like, ‘Oh, that’s great, it’s just a guy with no superpower — he’s just got a high skill set.’ I can actually attach to that,” Renner said, before adding, “I’d have passed on [the role of] Thor all day long — not that I’d ever be cast in that — but like, that kind of thing I’d be like, ‘I don’t know how to do that, I’m sorry.'”
Renner has since played Hawkeye in five huge movies for Marvel, including this year’s box office-plundering Avengers: Endgame. The actor is also set to reprise the part for a Hawkeye-centric Disney+ limited series.