Types of Good Dads:
- Didn’t want to be a father, but became a good one after having a kid.
- Always wanted to be a father, exudes a fatherly aura, and will become a father-figure to anybody who needs it.
- Combination of (1) and (2). Didn’t want to be father, but becoming one triggered their Dad Instincts, which they can never turn back off.
Spoilers for a bunch of MCU stuff, most importantly Hawkeye on Disney Plus, both Ant-Man movies, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame.
2. Clint Barton
I feel like I don’t even have to explain this one. Clint Barton is the consummate dad. He oozes dad vibes. His dad radar is constantly on, searching for the next sad face with abandonment issues who only needs love. The man was born wanting a family and wasn’t going to let a little thing like ‘being a spy who is also an ace archer for some reason’ get in the way.
We know very little about the MCU’s version of Laura Barton, but with the reveal in the last episode of Hawkeye that she was also in SHIELD as Agent 19, I think it’s safe to say they both shared that dream. I bet they met one day in the SHIELD cafeteria. He made a bad dad joke about broccoli. She laughed from the next table over. They locked eyes and her mom instincts found his dad instincts and twenty minutes later they were working on baby number one in the supply closet while discussing how many kids they ultimately wanted. Both agree on six on the low end and would be ecstatic if they ever hit double digits.
Of course, since Laura is a human woman (as far as we know, you never can tell in a comic book universe) and they both had a fairly hectic work life, they were unable to get past three kids. Which, don’t get me wrong, is still a lot of kids. Too many, in my opinion. Like with cats, I think you need two. That way they can keep each other company but won’t outnumber you. For Barton, though, the sky is the fucking limit, so he did the only logical thing: adopt as many fatherless runts as he came across.
Not in the traditional sense, of course, although the mental image of Barton stopping by the house between missions and dropping off another handful of orphans for Laura to add to the collection is sort of amusing. Barton doesn’t come across enough actual child orphans, so he had to switch up and become the Ultimate Dad Friend. Here’s a short list of adults that Clint Barton effectively adopted:
- Natasha Romanov. Obviously. He was supposed to kill her but he took one look at her and his lizard brain went FATHERLESS MOPPET NEEDS LOVE and let me tell you, Fury was not surprised to get that phone call.
- Pietro Maximoff. Yeah, sure, he spent most of their interactions talking about killing the kid, but anyone with an active dad knows that tone. That wasn’t a real ‘I’m going to kill him,’ tone, that was simply frustrated father talk. I don’t care how much your dad loved you, if you don’t think there was ever a time where he muttered to himself about how easy it would be to kill you and hide the body you truly do not understand how irritating children can be.
- Wanda Maximoff. Our man was retired. He was out. He was finally going to spend some time with the biological kids. And all it took was one phone call informing him that Wanda was feeling sad (and also we need both of you for a fight, but seriously, the primary concern here is Wanda) and this man was on I-70 before he could even drop the old fashioned wall phone they almost definitely have in that house. He’d already pep-talked the shit out of her in Sokovia, and he knew he could do it again. This man put himself in the Raft for who knows how long because one of his adopted daughters was made to feel guilty by his shittiest friend (seriously, Stark has to be everybody’s shittiest friend).
- Kate Bishop. At this point in the MCU, anybody who’s paying attention was not surprised Clint was jeopardizing his Christmas to help yet another fatherless moppet who obviously needed love. The man can’t help himself.
- Yelena Belova. He hasn’t gotten a chance to. But he wants to be her dad friend so bad it’s giving him an ulcer.
Now, you may notice here that Clint gets so enthusiastic with his dad-friending that his kids often get the short end of the stick. This is precisely why Clint only comes in at number two. Clint often prioritizes his adopted kids over his actual kids, which can potentially be okay in some situations but when the adopted kids aren’t actually kids but are all sad adults? Yeah, that’s not so great. His kids being completely prepared for him to miss Christmas in Hawkeye makes him lose the number one spot.
1. Scott Lang
I’ve actually written about this before but don’t worry, I’m going through it again. With the release of Hawkeye I really thought there would be potential for Scott to be unseated, but he came through unscathed.
For starters, Scott is definitely the Type 1 Dad: it’s clear from his backstory that having kids was never a goal of his. Dollars to donuts Cassie was probably an accident. Since his relationship with his ex-wife crumbled while he was in prison he had an easy way out if he wanted it. But once Cassie was born the Dad Reflex triggered in his brain and he couldn’t let Cassie go. He shows no interest in being a dad-friend – he meets Wanda in Berlin and, while enthusiastically friendly, shows no sign of attempting to adopt her out from under Barton’s nose – but shows again and again that all he wants is to be a father to Cassie.
Which, by the way, makes it all the more tragic that she didn’t get snapped at the end of Infinity War. Scott has already missed chunks of her life, first in prison, then in house arrest, and when finally everything is all roses and bees and he can leave the house and his relationship with not only Cassie but his ex-wife and her new husband and Hope and her parents, like, just, all the relationships are perfect, Christ, I bet he did meet Agent Woo for dinner…all of that finally works out, and then he gets trapped in the Quantum Realm while Cassie is not snapped and three hours later (from his perspective) Cassie is a teenager.
Anyway, let’s run down all the reasons Scott is still number one:
- Gets out of prison and doesn’t give up trying to see his daughter. But very much not in a 90’s comedy way, you know? In a 90’s comedy he would love his daughter but be terrible at being a dad. He’d be trying to fight for custody (while living in a shitty apartment with a couple of other ex-cons), he’d be bringing her out on Ant-Man field trips that would ultimately put her in harm’s way, there would be at least one instance of what would technically be kidnapping, etc. Nope, none of that. His ex-wife tells him she’s completely willing to look at the custody agreement as long as he gets his life together, so that’s where he starts.
- He does crash her birthday party, but he leaves without making a scene and also gives her an insane stuffed animal that she instantly loves.
- Not only does he sacrifice himself at the end of Ant-Man to save Cassie, she’s also the one to snap him out of whatever quantum fugue he was in and figure out a way to get back to reality, blowing up Baldy McBadguy in the process.
- In Captain America: Civil War, after the fight at the airport, he asks if anyone brought orange slices. Cassie does soccer. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that he attends every game he can, and is sometimes the assigned parent to bring the orange slices for the kids.
- In Ant-Man and the Wasp, not only does Scott build an entire maze and two-story slide to keep Cassie entertained indoors, he makes her put a helmet on before they go down said slide.
- Also in Ant-Man and the Wasp, and my absolute favorite example, the humor in the scene where they need to get the suit out of Cassie’s backpack is not built on Scott being such a terrible father he doesn’t know anything about his daughter. If this movie had been made in the 90’s, Scott wouldn’t have known her teacher’s name or even what her backpack looked like. They would have been stumbling all around the school before they saw her actually go into a room and into the bag. But not here. Scott, despite being under house arrest and never being able to go to the school, knows his daughter’s teacher’s name and immediately picks out her bag from a huge cubby system with, like, thirty other bags all shoved in there.
- Once he escapes the Quantum Realm in Endgame and sort of figures out what the fuck happened, his first instinct is Cassie. And, yeah, he leaves her again almost immediately, but only because he thinks he knows how to fix the world. And, listen, I landed on the idea that Tony Stark is a selfish bitch of a man a long time ago, and I think this is a prime example. Scott drove all the way across the country to get to the Avengers Complex because he thought time travel would fix everything. And I mean everything. When he’s first explaining his plan, he wants to go back to before Thanos snapped his fingers and stop him. Make it so that the snap never happened in the first place. Which means he would get those five years back with Cassie. Which is honestly what any rational person would want, right? Like, story-wise, sure, having everyone snapped come back to a fucked-up world and deal with the emotional fallout is a fucking treasure trove, if I’m writing this shit that’s what I’m doing. But if you live in that reality? If you’re a human being living that as reality, not just a human being but someone people consider a hero, and every day for five fucking years you’re surrounded by three and a half billion people and have knowledge of trillions of others across the universe suffering from an unimaginable trauma, if every day for five fucking years you turn on the television or go on the internet and see some new story about families torn apart, lives ruined, nations crumbling, if every fucking day for five fucking years you are surrounded by the collective misery of humanity and then you’re given the toolkit of the universe and know that you can erase those last five years, just take all five of them off the table and put things back to when they were at least manageable, wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t that be your first thought? Isn’t that the thing any sane, empathetic human would do? Christ, he could have saved Natasha. My God. What a tool.
Whoops, turns out I have some deep-seated resentment toward Tony’s actions in Endgame!
Scott Lang is still the MCU’s best dad and anyone who thinks that Tony Stark should be on this list can come fight me in the Piggly Wiggly parking lot.
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