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A Timeline of Jeremy Renner’s Controversies

Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye

Despite being one of the most widely recognized names and faces in Hollywood, actor Jeremy Renner—who reportedly injured himself while ploughing snow over the New Year’s 2023 weekend—has also been at the center of several controversies over the last decade. Some, like his insistence upon killing his Marvel character Hawkeye, are more innocuous than others—like accusations that he made death threats against his ex-wife, Sonni Pacheco.

Here’s a chronological breakdown of the Jeremy Renner controversy.

Jeremy Renner wanted Hawkeye to die in The Avengers

In 2016, Renner did a Q&A where he admitted that he wanted his MCU character, the heroic archer Hawkeye, to die in the first Avengers movie. As reported by Vulture, Renner said that he was frustrated by Hawkeye’s plot in The Avengers: “I was just getting to know who Hawkeye was, and then zap, I go round like a zombie, I’m like Loki’s minion.”

His solution was to simply kill off his character—but not in any particularly heroic way. Renner said, “I’m giving you an option, if you just want to kick me out of this movie. Just, you know, at any given moment, if you wanna kill me off, daddy’s gonna be having a heart attack.”

While these comments aren’t particularly bad when taken at face value, Renner reportedly said he faked multiple heart attacks on set, which is much more egregious. It’s one thing to be frustrated about a storyline, and another to make your fellow cast and the film crew think you’re in serious danger.

Following Age of Ultron, Renner slut-shamed Black Widow

During the press tour for Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015, Renner and co-star Chris Evans were asked their thoughts regarding Black Widow’s changing affections toward Clint Barton, Steve Rogers, and Bruce Banner. Renner replied, “She’s a slut.” Evans burst into laughter and followed up with, “She’s a complete whore.”

Although Black Widow is a fictional character and Renner and Evans weren’t saying these things about Scarlett Johansson (who played the MCU hero), these comments were met with understandable backlash from fans. The next day, Entertainment Weekly reported that both actors had released statements.

Evans said, “Yesterday we were asked about the rumors that Black Widow wanted to be in a relationship with both Hawkeye and Captain America. We answered in a very juvenile and offensive way that rightfully angered some fans. I regret it and sincerely apologize.”

Renner’s statement was more of a non-apology: “I am sorry that this tasteless joke about a fictional character offended anyone. It was not meant to be serious in any way. Just poking fun during an exhausting and tedious press tour.”

A couple weeks later, Renner appeared on Conan and seemingly doubled down on both the slut-shaming and the fact that comments made about fictional characters shouldn’t be taken seriously. According to Polygon, Renner joked, “If you slept with four of the six Avengers, no matter how much fun you had, you’d be a slut. Just saying. I’d be a slut.” He also seemed unconcerned about getting in “a lot of internet trouble.”

Renner’s ex-wife, Sonni Pacheco, accused him of abuse

Renner married Sonni Pacheco in 2014 and the pair had a daughter, Ava, before separating less than a year later, citing “irreconcilable differences.” Their divorce was finalized in 2015, with the pair agreeing to a joint-custody agreement. Then, in 2019, amid a custody battle (and following the downfall of the Jeremy Renner app), Pacheco publicly accused Renner of a series of violent behaviors toward her and their daughter.

According to ET, Renner allegedly repeatedly threatened to kill Pacheco and himself, even putting a gun in is mouth and then firing it into the ceiling one night while Ava slept. In court documents acquired by the outlet, Pacheco alleges that in a separate incident, a nanny overheard Renner say he was going to Pacheco’s house to kill her and then himself, because “it was better that Ava had no parents than to have her as a mother.”

The documents also claim Renner has an ongoing history of substance abuse and that he was under the influence around his daughter, in addition to having cocaine within her reach at his home.

Also in 2019, Pacheco accused Renner of biting a then-four-year-old Ava on the shoulder in 2017, as reported by Page Six. Court documents claim Ava told Pacheco, “Daddy bit me,” and that she said, “It’s OK Mommy, it was an accident. I told him to never do it again.” The documents also say that Ava “explained that the bite happened when [Renner] was being mean and yelling.”

Renner denied these allegations, stating that Ava was pinched by her seatbelt and that they would play “a nibble game called Ava burrito.” According to the docs, he laughed and added, “But not a bite. Tell her she’s spicy. And the game ensues. Haha. Nibble game are fake nibbles.”

These accusations are disturbing, to say the least. Pacheco has filed for sole custody of Ava and asked for Renner’s visits with their daughter to be supervised. Meanwhile, Renner has also filed for sole custody and requested monitored visits between Ava and Pacheco. At the time of this writing, the case has not been settled.

In 2020, Renner accused Pacheco of withdrawing $50,000 from Ava’s trust fund for herself, and in 2021, he told Men’s Health that he wouldn’t publicly address any of Pacheco’s claims (aside from calling them “nonsense”). “I don’t respond publicly or privately to nonsense,” he said. “It only empowers it … If you respond to it, you give it gas. I don’t fuel shit fires. I just don’t do it. I refuse to.”

(featured image: Marvel Studios)

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Samantha Puc (she/they) is a fat, disabled, lesbian writer and streamer whose work focuses primarily on LGBTQ+ and fat representation in pop culture. Their writing has been featured on Refinery29, Bitch Media, them., and elsewhere. Samantha is the co-creator of Fatventure Mag and she contributed to the award-winning Fat and Queer: An Anthology of Queer and Trans Bodies and Lives. They are an original cast member of Death2Divinity, and they are currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative nonfiction at The New School. When Samantha is not working or writing, she loves spending time with her cats, reading, and perfecting her grilled cheese recipe.