Jeremy Renner has carved out a specific niche for himself: he's Hollywood's go-to special ops guy. In The Avengers he's Hawkeye, agent of SHIELD. In Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol he's William Brandt, agent of IMF. And in The Bourne Legacy he's Aaron Cross, agent of Outcome. In each of these films he's the kind of guy who gets things done, the kind of guy who operates in the shadows to keep America free. And it looks like each of these films will be starting points for franchises for Renner, meaning the next ten years of his life will probably be spent saying things like 'I need to talk to JSOC!' and 'Hey, I know I'm the FNG, but I'm gonna straphang with this team until 0 Dark Ugly!'
How well can you tell these characters apart? This quiz will give you an idea:
Q: In which movie does Renner play a secret agent with a past that haunts him?
A: The Bourne Legacy, MI:Ghost Protocol. In the new Bourne film Renner's Aaron Cross reveals that before he became a supersoldier he was a subnormal IQ'ed Army GI. In MI4 his William Brandt was a former IMF agent who stepped back from field work after he thought he let Tom Cruise's wife get butchered. Cruise was just pranking him, though.
Q: In which movie does Renner play a secret agent whose agility and physical prowess reaches post-human levels thanks to a viral drug?
A: Not so fast, The Avengers! While Hawkeye is on a team of gods and supersoldiers, the agent himself is purely human. In The Bourne Legacy Cross takes drugs - called 'project meds' and 'chems' that enhance his physical and mental acumen beyond normal human levels.
Q: In which movie is Renner shouldering a franchise started by a bigger star?
A: The Bourne Legacy, MI: Ghost Protocol. While Tom Cruise still stars in MI4, Renner's Brandt was introduced as the possible new lead in future installments. Meanwhile Renner wholesale took over from Matt Damon in Legacy, although Universal obviously wants the original Jason Bourne back in a big way.
Q: In which movie does Renner play a secret agent who has some harrowing moments dealing with heights?
A: All of them. In The Bourne Legacy Cross jumps between two mountain peaks. In MI4 he has to jump into a deep ventilation shaft. In The Avengers he tumbles off a building during the Chitauri invasion.
Q: In which movie does Renner play a secret agent who wears a nice suit?
A: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. Brandt wears a couple of suits in this film. Aaron Cross never dresses up, and Hawkeye only wears his duty togs. Loki's the only guy to get a nice suit in The Avengers.
Q: In which movie does Renner play a secret agent who pals around with a hot woman but never kisses her?
A: All three. There's no sexual tension between Brandt and Paula Patton's Carter, but come on, make the effort. Hawkeye and The Black Widow have a past, but if there was romance it doesn't pop up in the movie. And while Aaron Cross has a big, stupid crush on Rachel Weisz' Dr. Marta Shearing, the only way he really acts on it is to rescue her again and again and again.
Q: In which movie does Renner play a secret agent who kills copious baddies?
A: Maybe The Avengers? There's no real sense of how many Chitauri Hawkeye kills while acting as the eyes of the team. He seems to kill two humans while under Loki's control. In The Bourne Legacy he kills five humans for sure, and one wolf. Generally speaking none of Renner's secret agent guys have big body counts.
Q: In which movie is Renner playing a character who is an expert at defusing bombs?
A: Trick question! That would be The Hurt Locker, where Renner plays William James, team leader of the US Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit during the Iraq War. While James is regular Army, he has the experience and nerves required to be a secret agent (all of Renner's secret agents were seemingly recruited out of the armed forces) - and the end of the movie, with James unable to adjust to civilian life, makes him seem like a great candidate for SHIELD or Outcome or the Impossible Mission Force. Consider The Hurt Locker a dry run.
Other dry runs: Doyle in 28 Weeks Later, a Delta team sniper. His SWAT character could be seen as a dry run, except that he's a bad guy.