Hawkeye - Jack Duquesne the Swordsman's comic book history and MCU future

Jacques Duquesne AKA the Swordsman
Jacques Duquesne AKA the Swordsman (Image credit: Marvel Comics / Marvel Studios)

So now we know a little more about the Hawkeye streaming series' Swordsman, AKA Hawkeye's Jacques Duquesne, portrayed by Better Call Saul (opens in new tab) actor Tony Dalton.

One of Marvel Comics' earliest and relatively obscurist characters, the Swordman has been a hero (including an Avenger) and a villain (including an Avenger foe), which along with his instrumental role in the origin of the comic book Hawkeye, Marvel Studios used to keep viewers of the streaming series off-track as to Duquesne' true nature and role in the six-episode season. 

Engaged to Kate Bishop's mother Eleanor Bishop (Vera Farmiga), Duquesne may or may not have been a secret superhero or supervillain, may or may not have been the CEO of a shell money-laundering operation for the Tracksuit Mafia, and may or may not have murdered his uncle Armand Duquesne III. 

All we knew is he has an affinity for and is highly skilled with swords.

Avengers #19 cover (Image credit: Marvel Comics)
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We'll get to what December 22's Hawkeye finale revealed about all of that, but there's still a lot to learn about the comic book history of the Swordsman and his relationship with Clint Barton - two former circus performers with no superpowers between them - which has somewhat ironically led to some of the weirdest, least down-to-Earth Avengers stories in their history.

So who exactly is Jacques Duquesne, AKA the Swordsman, and what does his Marvel comic book history with Hawkeye and the Earth's Mightiest Heroes look like? And what might Swordsman's strangely sci-fi-infused history say about his potential future in live-action?

Read on for some backstory you might find surprising...

Who is the Swordsman?

Swordsman in comics

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Jacques Duquesne started out as your average traveling circus performer with a knack for wielding bladed weapons which he used in his act, and a serious gambling problem. However, he also hid a dark past as a murderous soldier of fortune in Vietnam.

When Clint Barton fled his abusive father to join the circus, he met Duquesne, who instantly recognized potential in the young Clint. Duquesne made Barton his apprentice, teaching him many of his own skills as a hand-to-hand combatant and weapon master. 

(Later tellings of Clint's origin added a second circus performer/criminal ally of Duquesne named Trick Shot to the mix, who specifically taught Clint to wield a bow). 

But when Barton caught Duquesne committing armed robbery in order to pay his growing gambling debts, Duquesne ran him off, leaving Clint for dead. While Clint went on to become the vigilante Hawkeye, later joining the Avengers, Duquesne embarked on a life of costumed crime as the Swordsman.

When Duquesne resurfaced in Clint Barton's life (in his first comic book appearance, 1965's Avengers #19 (opens in new tab)), Clint was well into his time as an Avenger. 

Duquesne, secretly working as an agent of Iron Man's arch-enemy the Mandarin, managed to work his way into the team. Duquesne found a place among the Avengers, impressing them with the power of his special sword, an almost indestructible weapon secretly designed by the Mandarin based on the villain's own ten rings, capable of shooting fire, energy blasts, and more.

Avengers #79 cover (Image credit: Marvel Comics)
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He also developed a crush on Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, leading him to betray the Mandarin - though his hero turn came too late, and the Avengers rejected him. 

Swordsman became a recurring enemy for the Avengers as part of the Grim Reaper's Lethal Legion team, though he also wound up helping the Avengers on multiple occasions - longing to rejoin the team as an actual hero.

Swordsman eventually got his wish when he met Mantis, the so-called 'Celestial Madonna' and chosen holy figure of an alien race known as the Cotati (more on them later). Swordsman and Mantis (who MCU fans know from her slightly different incarnation among the Guardians of the Galaxy, played by Pom Klementieff) sought out the Avengers, convincing the team of their sincerity as heroes. 

Unfortunately, Mantis' destiny as the so-called Celestial Madonna came calling, as none other than Kang the Conqueror came to claim the power inherent in Mantis' destined role. 

Though Swordsman saved Mantis from Kang, it came at the cost of his life, and Mantis departed the Avengers with a broken heart over the man she had come to realize she truly loved.

But that wasn't quite the end of Jacques Duquesne.

Swordsman in the Marvel Universe

Swordsman in comics

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Mantis took Swordsman's body to the Cotati, a plant-like alien race who are ancient enemies of the Kree, with whom the Cotati once shared the planet Hala. 

The Cotati reanimated Duquesne as a Cotati clone, essentially a plant-like being with the likeness, memories, and personality of the Swordsman, while also placing Mantis in stasis and inserting her consciousness into her own Cotati clone.

The reanimated Cotati hybrid versions of Mantis and Swordsman became lovers, even rejoining the Avengers for a time, before departing for deep space to raise their child Sequoia - the so-called 'Celestial Messiah' destined to restore the Cotati to their original homeworld of Hala, now solely ruled by the Kree.

Years later, Sequoia, Mantis, and Swordsman returned to Earth to recruit the Avengers to help them fight the burgeoning Kree/Skrull Alliance, ruled by Teddy Altman/Hulkling/Emperor Dorrek VIII. But as it turned out, the Cotati were actually the aggressors, wreaking havoc on Earth and the Avengers in the story Empyre (opens in new tab).

In the end, the Cotati were defeated, with the reanimated Swordsman apparently perishing again in the conflict's finale.

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)
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There's another Swordsman in the Marvel Universe with a much weirder backstory and power set - Andreas Strucker, the son of Baron Strucker of Hydra. A mutant who shared his power to generate energy blasts with his twin sister Andrea as the collective mutant villain duo Fenris, Andreas became the Swordsman after his sister's death. 

Unable to activate his powers without holding hands with his sister, her flesh was used to wrap the handle of Andreas' sword, and he was recruited into Norman Osborn's incarnation of the Thunderbolts after being brainwashed by the villainous Purple Man.

Osborn later killed Andreas with his own sword, though the pair were both later resurrected through mysterious means. Oddly enough - and seemingly unrelated to their resurrection, which they credit to their father Baron Strucker - both Andrea and Andreas Strucker have since become residents of the mutant island nation of Krakoa.

Swordsman in the MCU - spoilers ahead for Hawkeye episode 6

Tony Dalton as Jacques Duquense in Hawkeye

Tony Dalton as Jacques Duquense in Hawkeye (Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Okay then. 

What do we know about Tony Dalton's live-action Jacques Duquesne?

No, he didn't kill Armand. 

No, he isn't the CEO of a money-laundering operation for the Kingpin. 

And if he ever was a superhero, supervillain, or used his swordsmanship in any spy or espionage capacity, we don't know about it, as Clint genuinely doesn't seem to know him. 

And he seems like a pretty good guy, breaking out his skills with aplomb and panache in aid of Hawkeye and Kate against the Tracksuit Mafia thugs in the action-packed final act, clearly enjoying himself.

And while his odd comic book history is still there to draw from, this particular Jacques Duquesne seems like his own MCU entity with his own potential future. 

As to what that is exactly, it remains to be seen. 

Hawkeye season 1 seems like it set things up for a season 2. Clint's still alive and there was no passing of the torch/retirement scene between him and Kate, there are still questions to be answered about Laura Barton, and Jacques and the 'Larpers' seem ready go to be something of a supporting cast if another series were to come.

If MCU fans have taken to Jack there is always the opportunity for him to return in other projects. Given the hero's journey he witnessed his would-be step-daughter Kate take and the clear thrill he was getting fending off the Tracksuits, Jack attempting to launch his own superhero career as the Swordsman would certainly make for an interesting storyline in a second Hawkeye season or another series. 

But with all things MCU, most new projects raise as many new questions as they answer, and when it comes to a possible future for the Swordsman, it appears it will be open-ended for a while. 

Get to know the comic book history of Hawkeye's other key new-to-the-MCU character ... no, not Pizza Dog (well, him too) we mean Maya Lopez/Echo

I've been Newsarama's resident Marvel Comics expert and general comic book historian since 2011. I've also been the on-site reporter at most major comic conventions such as Comic-Con International: San Diego, New York Comic Con, and C2E2. Outside of comic journalism, I am the artist of many weird pictures, and the guitarist of many heavy riffs. (They/Them)