Top 10 Archers on the Screen
December 8th marks my birthday, and one this day I write about a topic more personal to me. Last year we went with music and listed my ten favourite songs by The Beatles. This year we’re going with sport – in particular, archery. Something I’ll be doing this morning as I take my weekly trip to the range to prepare for the zombie apocalypse.
Here are my ten favourite archers that have featured on the screen. It can be film, television, games…so long as it’s on a screen.
#10 – Jason Brody
The bottom slot on the list goes to a character who isn’t especially known for being an archer, but utilises the most realistic archery physics in video games. Before I played this game the slot would’ve gone to Shadow of the Colossus or Skyrim, but Far Cry 3 pretty much nailed it. With more realistic aiming, flight arcs and impact points it’s surprising that it isn’t a more central part of the game, but the recurve bow is only one item in Brody’s hefty arsenal. When given the choice my character always specialises in the bow, and this made it more fun.
#9 – Katniss Everdeen
Some might be surprised to see Katniss so far down the list but…I’m not overly impressed by Jennifer Lawrence’s form. Don’t take that the wrong way, I’m talking in terms of archery. Every time she draws I get distracted by her stiff arms and light grip on the string. This can be explained away by the character never having formal training, instead teaching herself in the wild. She’s still cool, and it’s nice to see an archer kick ass in a blood sport.
#8 – Hank the Ranger
This animated series appeared during the hey-day of Saturday morning cartoons, inspired by the table top game of the same name. Each character had their own magical weapon, and Hank’s was a corker. He carried a bow with no string, and by making the motions of drawing the string he created a string and arrow out of flame. Flaming arrows are a staple of fiction, but one that spawns arrows of pure flame is especially badass.
#7 – Merida
Pixar’s latest original title went with a young princess protagonist, one who doesn’t want to get married but make her own choices. How does she deal with these frustrations? Archery! Early in the film she proves to be a dab hand with a bow, knocking out bulls-eyes from galloping horseback. The opening scene, her first time at the target, also demonstrates one of the most tiresome parts of the sport – looking for lost arrows in the wilderness.
#6 – Robin Hood (Men in Tights)
In case you’re wondering, there will be more than one version of this classic myth on the list. Not only does Cary Elwes kick ass as Robin Hood, but he has a real English accent! His skills with the bow are put to the test in the tournament that features in the tale, but he has one arrow left…the Patriot Arrow.
#5 – Oliver Queen aka Green Arrow
If this list was working off the comics Queen would be ranking much higher, maybe even at the top, but using the television version slips him a few spots. Not that he’s bad – he’s pretty damn badass – but he’s not quite the same character. He certainly adds plenty of hardcoreness to the sport, and that bit with the tennis balls is fucking awesome.
#4 – Gizmo
This little furball didn’t put up much of a fight when the gremlins first went on the rampage. During their second attack Gizmo fell afoul of the murderous creatures and was tortured. Driven to the edge Gizmo knew he had to step up. Inspired by Rambo he fashions a bow and arrow out of paperclips, rubber bands and a pencil. This doesn’t sound like much but he takes down the damned spider-gremlin! Did you see that thing? It’s terrifying! Gizmo took that monster down with a paperclip bow!
#3 – Legolas
Firstly, everyone at work who has taken to calling me Legolas can eat my butt. There’s a reason he was one of the most popular characters in the franchise and it’s not because of his pretty blonde hair. He looks downright cool during battle, launching arrow after arrow into orcs. We’re going through something of a fad with cool archers at the moment, and Legolas kicked it off. That bit when he stabs an Uruk-hai with an arrow before notching it and firing it at the next is all kinds of awesome. Looking forward to his return this Christmas!
#2 – Clint Barton aka Hawkeye
As I said earlier, Green Arrow would win out this competition on the page. On the screen it’s all about Hawkeye. Holding his own alongside the super-powered Avengers, Barton doesn’t blink before facing down an alien army. Some people scoff at Hawkeye (and Black Widow) in The Avengers as their skills aren’t exactly on par with Iron Man, Capt. America, Hulk and Thor but they’ve got it backwards. A normal human taking up arms – medieval arms at that – against unsurmountable odds like this is a suicide mission. He’s got more hero cajones that the rest of the team put together. And I WANT that quiver! (Mind you, mine has a Mockingjay pin…)
#1 – Robin Hood (Disney version)
You never forget your original inspiration. When I was about 7 years old I was in hospital to get my tonsils out and the ward ran kids movies on the wall-mounted TV. I spent most of the time listening to Disney stories on tape, but switched off the Sony Walkman when Monster Party came on. And Disney’s Robin Hood. The moment I was able to leave my bed the nurse’s station got a visit every few hours by young me requesting that they put it back on. This fox, clearly modelled on the Errol Flynn version of the character, is so freaking smooth he doesn’t even sweat an arrow getting lodged in his hat in the opening scene. Nothing rattles him, and much of it comes from his mastery of the bow. When I took up archery years later there was nothing I wanted to do more than split an arrow with another arrow just like I’d seen in this movie.
And I totally have.