Clint Barton’s a man of secrets. Always has been. Dating back to when he surprised his Avenger friends with the knowledge that he had a wife, kids and a beautiful farm tucked away in Missouri. He would continue on with the secrency to his time as Ronin, Barton has played things close to the vest and openly trusted very few people. Avengers: Age of Ultron did, however, establish, that he had a very open relationship with his wife, Laura.
The first few episodes of Hawkeye have peeled back the curtain even more on their relationship, showing that not only does Laura support Clint’s avenging, she also seems to know quite a bit about it. She’s been supportive of Clint staying in New York to clean up the mess that unfolded when Kate Bishop put on the Ronin suit, but more than that, she seemed to have quite a bit of information about Clint’s past with the Tracksuit Mafia and, possibly, the fact that her husband was Ronin. Today’s episode erased any doubt that Laura knew Clint was Ronin and replaced that doubt with speculation that there might be more to her than meets the eye.
Episode 4, “Partners, Am I Right?”, provided enough evidence to support a reasonable claim that Laura Barton is more than just a supportive spouse. Not only does Laura confirm that she knew about Clint’s time as Ronin (silly suit), she also demonstrates the ability to fluently speak a second language to hide things from her children and does some research on Sloan Ltd. that leads to uncovering its a shell corporation (seems like it took more than a Google search to determine that bit of info). Again, enough evidence to support a reasonable claim that Laura is more than just a supportive spouse and maybe, just maybe, a trained spy herself.
And if, in fact, it turns out that Laura Barton is a trained spy who also happens to be married to Clint Barton, it would be no stretch to make the case that Laura might be “Laura” and actually be Barbara Morse, better known to comic book fans as one-time Avenger, West Coast Avenger, and Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Mockingbird. In the comics, she was a doctor who trained as a spy by S.H.I.E.L.D. and was given the codename Agent 19 (let’s keep an eye out for Agent 19 Easter eggs over the next two episodes. In fact, we should probably go back and look at the last four episodes to make sure we didn’t miss any). Along the way, she met Clint Barton and the two embarked on a rocky relationship that saw them marry, get divorced, get back together, be killed by Mephisto, be impersonated by a Skrull, and then show up in Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye, the series on which the Hawkeye show is largely based. And there was that time she faked her death to protect her family…
As told in issue 2 of the 2010 series Hawkeye and Mockingbird, after falling into a coma, Morse had Nick Fury fake records of her death and make access to her files “Eyes Alpha”, otherwise known as “nobody can see them.” Morse stayed undercover for 8 years until a threat from her and Hawkeye’s shared past drew her out.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s pretty close to what’s happening in Hawkeye. We know absolutely nothing about how Laura and Clint met, nothing at least that couldn’t have been fabricated by Fury when he helped find them their home in Missouri. The skillset Laura has demonstrated so far is congruent with that of Mockingbird in the comics. She is married to Clint, as Mockingbird once was. It’s not too hard to imagine that while an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., she worked undercover (in the comics she worked with Ted Sallis on his project to recreate the Super Soldier Serum, a project that turned him into Man-Thing), met Clint, and had Fury delete all knowledge of her from the S.H.I.E.L.D. database. Again, there is certainly enough evidence to support a reasonable claim that Laura Barton could be a trained spy herself, and could have been, at one point, a SHIELD agent that went by the name Barbara “Bobbi” Morse, aka Mockingbird.
While it’s fun to speculate, this is a classic 50/50 scenario: either Laura was Mockingbird or she was not. It would certainly be a wonderful way for Marvel Studios to bring the character, who was portrayed on ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. by Adrianne Palicki, into the Sacred Timeline and give national treasure Linda Cardellini a larger role. Jeremy Renner has teased that he’d love to see his character transition to a leadership role on the West Coast Avengers. Perhaps the events of Hawkeye (Maya Lopez was looking into Barton’s family, so it’s possible her connection to Kingpin and Kate’s mother’s spy…er, security company, could shake something loose about Laura), will make it possible for Laura to reclaim her prior identity as Mockingbird and partner with her husband leading the West Coast Avengers and mentoring the next generation of MCU heroes. Crazy theory? Time (maybe the time on a Rolex) will tell…