Jeremy Renner says the Avengers actors are still close and maintain their private group-text. The American actor has played expert archer Clint Barton in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since 2011’s Thor, making him one of the founding members of the on-screen Avengers team. After spending years in a supporting role, Renner stars in the Disney+ miniseries Hawkeye, which premieres its first two episodes on November 24.
Though audiences have lived with this iteration of Marvel superheroes for more than a decade now, the Avengers team has changed significantly since it came together in 2012’s The Avengers. The culmination of MCU Phase 1, this acclaimed first team-up film featured the titular squad comprised of Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, and Hawkeye, with a few S.H.I.E.L.D. agents lending some crucial support. Half of that line-up has either died or aged-out, with the soon-to-release Hawkeye rumored to be Renner’s swansong as he passes the bow-and-arrow to Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop.
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An interviewer for Phase Zero brings this up to Renner, jokingly asking if he competes with Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo to be the last one standing in the dwindling Avengers group chat, but Renner reminds him that the actors haven’t actually died. In fact, he says, the group chat including all of the original cast members is still very active. They remain close enough friends that they don’t use it to talk about their jobs, but rather share whatever is going on in their personal lives:
Well, just because you die on camera doesn’t mean you die in real life, so yeah, we have a group chat, and it’s all of us. Some that are still alive and “dead on screen.” Yeah, we’re all very, very good friends, and we don’t really speak too much about our job. And that’s what’s also great about being, you know, Avenger friends… We speak about our kids and, you know, divorces and marriages and house buildings, we speak about just our life stuff… It is cool! Our friendship is, it’s been very, very special.
Avengers cast members have spoken about their group chat before, and the original co-stars clearly remain close, regardless of whose time in the MCU has come to an end. Renner’s comment remains ambiguous about just who qualifies to be part of the exclusive text chain, given that several members of the Avengers have come and gone in the years since the team’s debut, including Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man, Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch, and Paul Bettany’s Vision. Only the originals got the custom Avengers tattoo, however – except for Ruffalo, who Scarlett Johansson called “a party pooper.”
With the extent to which Marvel fans engage with the MCU, the affection between the actors behind The Avengers has been a true gift for the franchise, and knowing that they remain in contact without a professional context is heartwarming. That extratextual knowledge only makes this transition into Phase 4 more difficult, as the founding Avengers are slowly making way for a new crop of heroes that might not be able to carry the universe in the same way as their predecessors. The future of the MCU remains uncertain, but for those who watched the Infinity Saga unfold on-screen, the journey from Iron Man to Avengers: Endgame will always justify Kevin Feige’s film-universe experiment.