The Hawkeye Initiative

From Fanlore
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Name: The Hawkeye Initiative
Date(s): December 2nd 2012-2018
Submissions: Submissions are encouraged.
Type: Fanart
Fandom: Marvel Comics
URL: (defunct); archive link
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

The Hawkeye Initiative was a satirical Tumblr blog that used Hawkeye and other male comic characters to illustrate how deformed, hyper-sexualized, and impossibly contorted women are commonly illustrated in comics, books, and video games.Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; invalid names, e.g. too many


The concept of replacing female superheroes in ridiculous poses with Hawkeye was first proposed by gingerhaze in a tumblr post.

The idea was then picked up by the fan artist Hoursago, who redrew the cover of an Marvel Adventure Super-Heroes comic featuring Black Widow and Hawkeye with the subjects' poses reversed. The post garnered a lot of attention quickly, getting over 16 000 notes in less than four days. [1]

Shortly thereafter on December 2nd 2012Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; invalid names, e.g. too many, the Hawkeye Initiative blog was created by skjaldmeyja. The blog was an instant success and got over 10 000 followers in less than a day. [2]

Besides fanart, THI also inspired cosplays.

The Hawkeye Test

From the initiative the idea of the Hawkeye Test was born. The test helps determine if a female character's pose is sexist by asking if Hawkeye could do the same pose without looking stupid or silly. If he can, it is probably not sexist.

This leads me to propose the Hawkeye Test. If your female character can be replaced by Hawkeye in the same pose without looking silly or stupid, then it’s acceptable and probably non sexist. If you can’t, then just forget about it.

Tumblr user Glitchy

Why Hawkeye?

The reason for choosing Clint Barton as the face of the movement was speculated upon. One suggested it was simply due to the first image happening to portray him[3]. Another claimed it was because Jeremy Renner, the actor who plays Hawkeye in the MCU would sometimes strike similar poses himself.[4]. A fan of the blog argued that it was due to the fact that Hawkeye was often labelled as "useless".

Nary has a word been spoken about Hawkeye being adopted as our mascot. Often Clinton Francis Barton has been deemed 'useless and unnecessary’ by many dissenting voices of Dudebro Comic Reading Males until he took Hank Pym’s serum (let’s not even go down the road of how Hank Pym, the misogynistic abusive drug addict asshole of the Marvel world, is so popular amongst Male readers and the Dudebros in charge of the MCU). If it were Hank Pym or Bruce Wayne being used in this way, you sure betcha the men folk of the internets would be up in arms over the emasculating nature of their beloved hero(es) and yet, I’ve yet to hear how this Initiative demeans Hawkeye as a Character due to the sheer fact that majority view him as 'Useless’. Now THAT’S some internalised misandry if ever I’ve seen it. Mayhaps if we HAD used the widely accepted epitome of perceived Masculinity they wouldn’t miss the point.



Seeming to have struck a nerve, THI took off like lightning, gaining notice not only on tumblr but from many outside sources. A list of articles about THI can be found on their "About and FAQ" page.

The initiative was praised for its simplicity [5], highlighting the different nature of how men and women are objectified in comics in an easily digestible way[6]. Many of the images were also reposted on websites dedicated to funny, rather than political content. [7][8][9][10]

For the casual superhero fan, this site is gender identity 101 (with superheroes. When you hear, “That’s so not true!” send that person to the site and let them scroll down the endless examples.

Nerd Caliber

It also garnered attention from people in the comic book industry. Among its supporters were Gail Simone[11], comic author who coined the term Women in Refrigerators, and Matt Fraction [12][13].


Besides the comics fans who simply enjoyed the kind of art The Hawkeye Initiative criticised[14], some sceptics argued that while it was bringing attention to an important issue, whatever political point it was trying to make was lost in the humor of the images.[15]

In a blog post on the subject of Mannerism, John Holbo states that the reason the criticised poses are so common might can not so simply be reduced to the artists being sexist. The reason why these images of Hawkeye are perceived as funny isn't so much because he is a man, as it is the poses being ridiculous and many of the images being crudely drawn. [16] He goes on to state that The Hawkeye Initiative is focusing on the wrong part of the issue, namely that there are sexualized women in comics, rather than the lack of unsexualized female characters.

The Hawkeye Initiative proceeds as if the problem is that pin-ups can be found. But the problem isn’t that pin-ups can be found, rather that pin-ups can’t be not found in places where it really ought to be possible to not find them.


Further Reading


  1. ^ Know Your Meme, The Hawkeye Initiative. (Accessed 31 January 2021)
  2. ^ Daily Dot Strong Female Superhero Pose meme gets a Hawkeye reboot
  3. ^ Oh No They Didn't!The Hawkeye Initiative redraws absurd superheroine poses with Hawkeye (Accessed 31 January 2021)
  4. ^ Comics Beat The Hawkeye Initiative launches—and genderswapping will never be the same (Accessed 31 January 2021)
  5. ^ About Face The Hawkeye Initiative exposes sexism in comic book art (Accessed 31 January 2021)
  6. ^ Moar Powah Food for Thought: The Hawkeye Initiative (Accessed 31 January 2021)
  7. ^ Cheezburger The Hawkeye Initiative (Accessed 31 January 2021)
  8. ^ Buzzfeed "The Hawkeye Initiative" Strikes Back Against Modern Comic Art (Accessed 31 January 2021)
  9. ^ Uproxx Meme Watch: The Hawkeye Initiative Hilariously Addresses Sexism In Comics With Sexy Hawkeye (Accessed 31 January 2021)
  10. ^ Upworthy Oh, So You Really Think The Female Body Works Like That? (Accessed 31 January 2021)
  11. ^ Gail Simone The Hawkeye Initiative (Accessed 31 January 2021)
  12. ^ .mattfraction Have you ever heard of The Hawkeye Initiative? (Accessed 31 January 2021)
  13. ^ .mattfraction Soooooo.... I was wondering what's your opinion on... (Accessed 31 January 2021)
  14. ^ Wired How to Fix Crazy Superheroine Poses in Comics? Swap Them With Hawkeye (Accessed 31 January 2021)
  15. ^ Nerdy Feminist, The Hawkeye Initiative - A Good Start (Accessed 31 January 2021)
  16. ^ John Holbo Fervent and Furious: The Hawkeye Initiative As Late Mannerism (Accessed 31 January 2021)