When Clint Barton was 13, he and his brother Barney ran away from their orphanage, eventually finding Carson's Carnival of Traveling Wonders. Hungry and tired, Barney and Clint went to the Carnival for refuge. The star of Carson's Carnival, the Swordsman, met young Clint and Barney Barton who were hoping for jobs at the Carnival. He soon realized that Clint had a talent in archery. The young Clint Barton was picked on by Marcella, the daughter of the Carson's Carnival owner, who would often push him into piles of elephant "dirt."
During their early days at the Carnival, Clint Barton helped his brother Barney with odd jobs around the Carnival. They eventually took up living with the Carnival and traveling along with it. One day the Swordsman accidentally cut too close while performing a trick with his assistant and he chose Clint as his new assistant. After Clint proved himself an able assistant, the Swordsman sought to teach Clint the art of throwing knives. Not long after, the Carnival's archer Trickshot lost a bit of money to the Swordsman and in order to pay him off, the Swordsman insisted that Trickshot teach young Clint Barton archery.
Barney watched as Clint practiced his archery at Carson's Carnival and the two boys talked about their futures. Following a good amount of training in archery by Trickshot, Clint Barton asked Trickshot if he was finally ready to become an act in the Carnival. Trickshot explained that he didn't care about the Carnival. He then explained to Clint that they should take what they need by suckering and scamming the carnival goers.
During one of Clint Barton's archery training sessions at Carson's Carnival, the Swordsman admitted that Clint wasn't bad but then threw his sword into the bullseye of Clint's target to remind Clint who the master was.
After showing up the young Clint, the Swordsman practiced his swordsmanship by having Trickshot fire arrows that he could deflect with his sword. While they practiced on the Carnival grounds, the Swordsman admitted that he owed money and Trickshot offered the services of himself and Clint. Later that night, Clint caught the Swordsman robbing the Carnival. After realizing that Clint wasn't going to join him, the Swordsman attacked Clint, forcing him to flee onto the Carnival's high wire. Clint soon tried to fight back with his bow and arrows but the Swordsman cut the wire, causing Clint to fall. Before the Swordsman could finish Clint off, Trickshot and Barney Barton arrived and drove off the Swordsman.
After the Swordsman had fled, Barney came running up to Clint, who explained about the Swordsman's robbery and how he had wanted Clint to join him. Angry that the Bartons could have been on easy street, Barney took Clint for medical attention exclaiming that he would never be busted while trying to save someone else's money. Despite his broken leg, Clint returned to Carson's Carnival where he practiced his archery. As Barney helped, he explained to Clint that he was leaving the Carnival to move on with his life. Barney then told Clint that his bus was to leave the following morning at 9 and left Clint alone.
Years later, Hawkeye visited Carson's Carnival when it stopped in Long Island for three days after getting a flier from Marcella Carson. When he went to the owner's trailer though, he was knocked down by two guards outside it. Feigning defeat, Clint went to a deserted area between two trailers and changed into his Hawkeye costume to investigate the strangeness going around. As he investigated, Scott Lang and his daughter Cassie were also visiting the Carnival. Scott soon spotted Hawkeye and, feeling like he should help, took Cassie to ride the Spin 'n Heave as he left to help Hawkeye. Hawkeye soon managed to get inside the owner's trailer but found no one present. Almost immediately, he heard the two guards escorting Marcella Carson to their boss. Hawkeye quickly knocked out the guards and rescued Marcella. Once the two were safe, Marcella explained that the Carnival had been taken over by the Taskmaster. The Taskmaster soon discovered the location of Hawkeye and Marcella, whom he took hostage. Ant-Man soon arrived to save Hawkeye from the lion cage that the Taskmaster had imprisoned in and the two of them freed Marcella. A surprised Taskmaster sent all of his recruits against the trio while he rigged the human cannonball act to fire an explosive dummy to destroy the Carnival and disguise his escape. Hawkeye fired an arrow at the dummy that carried Ant-Man, who disarmed the explosive. The two heroes then apprehended the Taskmaster's goons as the other Avengers arrived on the scene. Ant-Man then changed into his civilian clothes and went to retrieve Cassie, who was tired but wanted to come back and ride the Spin 'n Heave again the next day.