Presenting OTP Tuesday! Each Tuesday I will introduce you to a new One True Pairing! Tune in each week to find out which fictional couple you need to agonize/squee over next. In honor of Avengers: Infinity War coming out this month, all April OTPs will be from the Marvel Cinematic Universe! Our last Marvel pair is the ship that got away: Clintasha.
Who Are Clintasha?
Clintasha refers to the pairing of Natasha Romanoff and Clint Barton from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Also known as the Black Widow, Natasha Romanoff is a particularly skilled and deadly member of SHIELD. She first appears in Iron Man 2, where she is undercover to keep an eye on Tony Stark. Although she has not had a solo movie (yet), Natasha has appeared in many other MCU movies as a connecting thread and a member of the Avengers.
Natasha Romanoff was raised and trained in the Red Room, a Soviet program to create female superspies. She was raised to be a deadly and emotionless killer, a tool to uphold the Soviet regime. After “graduating” from the Red Room, Natasha made a name for herself as the Black Widow, the KGB’s most fearsome spy. That’s when she caught SHIELD’s attention.
SHIELD was unhappy about her exploits and sent an agent — Clint Barton — to neutralize the threat. Clint saw potential in the young Russian assassin. So, instead of killing Natasha, Clint recruited her, and she began working for SHIELD. This is how Natasha became involved with the Avengers Initiative.
Although she was originally tasked with keeping an eye on the Avengers, Natasha gets caught up when Loki invades Earth with the Chitauri army. Loki made it personal, bringing up Natasha’s dark past. She works with her newfound teammates to stop the invasion.
Later, Natasha continues working for SHIELD alongside Steve Rogers. Though they are vastly different people, they have a good rapport that allows them to work together well. Steve also learns he can trust Natasha when she helps him bring down Hydra, who has infiltrated SHIELD.
Natasha continues to work with the Avengers during the Ultron problem. She later gets caught up in the disagreements over the Accords, torn between team members. Infinity War is sure to have some surprises for her.
Clint Barton is also an agent of SHIELD who becomes an Avenger. We first met Clint — known as Hawkeye — in Thor. His appearance is brief but definitely made an impression. Mjolnir is stuck in the ground. SHIELD is studying it and has the entire area cordoned off — but that doesn’t stop Thor. He begins taking down SHIELD agents in his quest to regain Mjolnir.
Clint comes in as a last-minute measure, to take Thor out with his bow and arrow. Just from this first appearance, we learn that Clint has a personality. He sasses Coulson and roots for Thor. This is somewhat diminished in his next appearance in The Avengers, where he has little action and spends most of the movie brainwashed by Loki. Interesting Clint comes back later when he interacts with Natasha after she frees him from Loki’s control.
Age of Ultron makes up for the lack of Clint in the first Avengers by making him a major focal point of the movie. It’s in Ultron that we learn that Clint has secretly had a family this whole time, and has hidden them from the Avengers. Ultron strongly hints that Clint will die, but he survives the film thanks to the sacrifice of Pietro Maximoff.
After Ultron, Clint ostensibly retires to spend more time with his family. When Civil War happens, though, he steps up to help Steve. He ends up arrested with the rest of Team Cap and laments disappointing his family. In the end, though, Clint is too much a hero to stand back.
Clint so far has been noticeably absent from Infinity War marketing, which leads fans to speculate that he may die. Diehard Clint fans, though, are insistent that he will save the day.
Why is Clintasha OTP?
Many fans — myself included — walked out of The Avengers already hardcore shipping Clintasha. It seemed like a natural progression from their interactions in the movie. Jeremy Renner and Scarlett Johannson also have great chemistry. The dynamic between the two spies hinted at a great relationship.
The shipping was only fueled when fans noticed that — despite Clint’s absence in The Winter Soldier — Natasha was wearing an arrow necklace. This was seen as a token of her love for her absent teammate.
Ultron may have thoroughly shut down Clintasha with the reveal that Clint is married with children, but that hasn’t stopped fans from shipping this dynamic duo.
Red in the Ledger
One of the reasons Clintasha works is that there is a sense of understanding inherent in the pairing. Clint is the only person who really knows Natasha and Natasha knows him better than anyone else. (Although Clint’s family screws with Clintasha, the fact that Natasha is the only one who knows them proves she knows him best.)
A particularly poignant Clintasha moment comes in The Avengers after Natasha breaks Loki’s hold on Clint with “cognitive recalibration.” Clint is struggling with his actions and feeling broken. He asks if Natasha knows what it’s like to be unmade, to have herself pulled out and someone else put in. She answers that he knows that she does.
Natasha’s past is dark. The Red Room was a messed up place, and it really did a number on her. Clint knows all this. He’s the person Natasha can trust not to judge her or toss her aside for her past. Although she later hints at her past with others, Clint already knows all this and doesn’t hold it against her.
This isn’t always a positive thing. Loki is able to break through to Natasha by pointing out how much bad she has done in her life. He only knows the details because of Clint. But the only reason Clint knows all this is because Natasha was comfortable enough with him to share her past because he witnessed some of it.
Later, when Natasha is reliving painful memories in Ultron, Clint is by her side. He must have an indication of what she is experiencing because he knows all her darkest moments. Not only does he not judge her, but he trusted her enough to give her a second chance. They work together to be better.
What Happened in Budapest
But Clintasha isn’t all doom and gloom. Their dynamic is built on shared darkness and a mutual understanding, but it’s also built on a similar sense of humor and shared (good) experiences. Clintasha can be a rapid-fire back and forth just as easily as it can be crying together in the corner.
A fantastic moment comes when Clint and Natasha fight the Chitauri together in The Avengers. The two work seamlessly together because they’ve done so for years. With aliens all around and destruction running rampant, Natasha remarks it’s just like Budapest — to which Clint sarcastically responds that he remembers Budapest differently.
It’s a moment that has taunted fans — what happened in Budapest?? I need to know — but it also demonstrates their shared history. It also shows that working together keeps them cool under fire because they know without a doubt the other has their back.
The quips keep coming in Ultron, where Natasha teases Clint for supposedly being weak. And while Laura Barton and the kids mess up my ship, it shows a homier side to Clintasha that makes you believe they could be happy.
Even in Civil War, where they were ostensibly on other sides, the Clintasha ship doesn’t slow down. During the fight at the airport, Clint and Natasha are duking it out. They joke about still being friends. Wanda Maximoff even scolds Clint for pulling his punches — he wants to help Cap, sure, but he also doesn’t want to hurt his friend. It’s a good dynamic.
What’s Next for Clintasha?
Well, Clintasha was really pretty strongly derailed in Age of Ultron. Many fans were upset with the reveal that Clint has been married all along. To them, it seemed to come out of the blue and didn’t make sense with the strong Clintasha vibes in The Avengers. While I have nothing against Laura Barton, I do agree that it seems a bit out of place.
Clint and Natasha, though, will both be returning in Infinity War and its sequel, though Clint’s role may be minor. Marketing materials have so far shown Natasha once again working with Steve Rogers. Clint’s absence in the marketing has become such a big deal that people are speculating that his role in Infinity War and its sequel will be pivotal.
After that? Who knows? Natasha is finally getting her own movie, but we don’t have details yet. It could possibly be a prequel, but it’s likely that Natasha survives Infinity War and continues saving the world. Clint could die in Infinity War, or he could save the day, or he could show up five minutes late with Starbucks. Who knows? We’ll find out on Friday!
Is Clintasha Canon?
Nope! It seemed like it would be, for a while. The shipping started pretty much as soon as they appeared on screen together. With hints like Natasha’s arrow necklace in The Winter Soldier, it really seemed like that’s the way the wind was blowing.
But, alas, Joss Whedon has to sink my ships. Age of Ultron completely knocked Clintasha off any track of canon. Still, there’s a definite Clintasha BROTP/family vibe going on. Natasha loves Clint’s family, and his kids call her Auntie Nat. It’s not what we hoped for, but it’s nice, and it does warm the heart.
Clintasha remains popular in fanon, though, so if you’re looking for a fix you’ll find plenty of ship fuel out there! And, really, it doesn’t matter whether or not Clintasha is canon. Can’t we all just agree that Brutasha is the worst?? Natasha Romanoff needs no man — but she’s glad to have Clint by her side, as her best friend.