Hey look! The circus is in town! Some of the greatest super heroes around got their start under the big top, honing their acrobatics and weapon-handling skills. This is true for Marvel’s Hawkeye as well as the on-again, off-again Avengers enemy known as the Swordsman.
Jacques “Jack” Duquesne, AKA the Swordsman, has led an interesting life both in the comics and on the screen, forging connections to important characters and pushing their heroic development. In the comics, his history is closely linked to Clint Barton and the Young Avengers and within the MCU, he also has a hand in Kate Bishop’s journey toward becoming a hero.
Hawkeye and Swordsman Meet at the Circus
At 13 years old, Clint and his older brother Barney Barton (who later became the brainwashed Trickshot) escaped from their foster home to work at the circus. While Barney eventually moved on from circus life, Clint found a mentor in Swordsman and the original Trickshot. Both taught him their impressive skills in weaponry and Clint was a star pupil — until he caught Swordsman stealing money.
After he refused to join the thief, Clint and Swordsman clashed until his brother and Trickshot arrived just in time to save Clint from falling to his death. As a hero, Clint has Swordsman to thank not only for his training in marksmanship and bladed combat, but also for his dedication to doing what’s right. Sometimes a bad example is just as powerful as a good example.
Swordsman Joins the Avengers
Later, Swordsman returns to Clint’s life while he is working with the Avengers as Hawkeye. At this point, Swordsman has been swayed by the Mandarin (a villain with a dubious background and ties to Shang-Chi) to lead a plan against the Avengers in which Swordsman infiltrates the team as a double agent.
Swordsman develops feelings for Scarlet Witch and also works closely with Black Widow and Power Man (Erik Josten) but, unfortunately, his allegiance to the team is constantly doubted. Not that it isn’t for good reason — he went up against Captain America and his mission from the Mandarin was to take down Iron Man. When it comes down to it, Swordsman is unable to harm the Avengers but he is still not completely trusted, either.
Swordsman’s Relationship with Mantis
While they worked alongside the Avengers, Swordsman developed strong feelings for Mantis, who is a very different hero in the comics than in the MCU. Her powers of empathy and telepathy extend to plant and animal life (which she refers to as biopathy) and she also develops energy projection and astral movement capabilities for space travel.
The comics version of Mantis was raised by the Priests of Parma, who believed she would one day become the Celestial Madonna and give birth to the Celestial Messiah who changes the universe. This perfect child would be a hybrid of a human mother and a Cotati father, a race of sentient plant beings that once lived on Hala with the Kree. To prevent the birth of this Celestial Messiah, Kang the Conqueror (in an alternate form called Rama-Tut) tried to kill Mantis but Swordsman sacrificed himself by jumping in front of the blast. As Swordsman was dying, Mantis realized her feelings for Jacques.
Swordsman was buried by the Priests of Parma in a garden that contained Cotati and later, Jacques’ body was reanimated and inhabited by an elder Cotati tree. This plant-Jacques and Mantis were married and from their union came Sequoia, AKA Quoi, the prophesied Messiah. Quoi became the lead antagonist of the intergalactic Empyre storyline when he set his sights on revenge and challenged Hulkling’s union of the Kree and Skrull empires.
Swordsman in the MCU
Since he is only just making his on-screen debut, this version of Swordsman is still shrouded in mystery. Not much is known about his background before getting engaged to Eleanor Bishop, which Kate Bishop views as extremely suspicious. Her distrust is further provoked when she learns that he killed his uncle, Armand III, and viewers also see him steal Ronin’s sword from the black mart auction.
Given his comics background, the MCU’s Jack Duquesne will certainly have a large impact on the characters around him, especially Clint and Kate. He has power, resources, and expert-level abilities. The question that remains is just how far the blade of his sword will cut.
Swordsman’s future in the MCU holds a lot of possibility — his relationship with Kate’s mom is already compelling Kate down a path of heroism and it remains to be seen whether his motives are good or bad. His character also has deep ties with the Avengers and their intergalactic (and supernatural) storylines, which opens up many avenues for the team. Like his comic book counterpart, Swordsman could become a figure who toes the line between enemy and ally.
Do you think Swordsman will turn out to be friend or foe? Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow!