Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Top 10 Fictional Archers

Archery is a sport that, once you try, is pretty addicting.  However, using arrows to kill is very different from aiming for an immobile, inanimate target.  Arrows are indeed very dangerous, but arrows aren’t that lethal as we generally think. A shot from an arrow won’t get you killed instantly as with a bullet.   Usually, an arrow, upon entry to the body, cleanly plugs the wound and keeps the insides intact.  Thus, it prevents the one hit from dying from excessive loss of blood.  Pulling out the arrow is actually more dangerous than getting hit since it will tear blood vessels open.  A bullet, in comparison, is far more lethal since it will completely destroy the insides once it hit, causing massive bleeding.  That’s why it’s not unknown for arrowheads to be dipped with poison, to kill more efficiently. 

Our idea of the lethality of the arrow is because of our encounter with fiction.   In fiction, a target immediately gets killed after getting hit by an arrow.  And the romanticism of the arrow shot gets easily stamped on our minds because of the talented, hawk-eyed archer that released it.  Despite of the difficulty of angle and great distance, the archer hit ridiculous targets with ease and deadly accuracy.  This is the romantic charm of archery in fiction.


She is a Gatekeeper for A.E.G.I.S, a secret organization that combats alien invaders called, uh, Invaders.  Being a Gatekeeper, she can open a gate which allows her to access power from a different dimension.  To release the power of her gate, she makes use of a bow and arrow (the arrows are interestingly held on a canister on her thigh).     


In the “Dungeon & Dragons” TV show, teenagers are transported to a fantasy realm and each one are given magical weapons.  Hank was given a magical bow that can shoot out energy arrows.  These arrows can be used as traditional projectiles or tools used for grappling-and-climbing, tying up enemies, or for providing illumination.  Being steadily courageous and cool-headed – valuable assets of an archer – he is the natural leader of the group.    


Being one of the Pevensie siblings, she is one of the main characters of the first two Narnia books (and movies).  Susan is known for her great beauty, that during her reign of Narnia with her siblings, many royal suitors from different countries asked her hand for marriage.  Her beauty’s reputation is only rivaled by her reputation with the bow and arrow.  In the first book, Father Christmas gave her a bow and arrows along with the horn that sends aid when blown.  She would eventually become an excellent archer.  She was even able to best Trumpkin the dwarf – with dwarves being known to be the best archers in Narnia – in an archery competition.  In the Prince Caspian movie, Susan’s ability is gloriously displayed in the Second Battle of Beruna. 


I haven’t read the books yet, but I have watched the “The Hunger Games” movie.  And I found Katniss a very strong female character.  As a tribute competing for the battle royal Hunger Games, Katniss has a high aptitude for survival.  She is known to be very talented with hunting with the bow, so it was a no-brainer that it was the weapon she chose to wield during the competition.  Her name – Katniss – is derived from the aquatic plant that is abundant around her home district, District 12.  Interestingly, the Katniss plant is also known as “arrowhead” and belongs to the genus Sagittaria, or “the Archer.”  Indeed, her skills in archery are hinted even in her name.      


Uryū is a left-handed, chivalrous Quincy.  Since Quincies and Shinigamis are mortal enemies, he and the main protagonist of “Bleach”, Ichigo, once clashed but eventually became allies and friends.  His Quincy abilities allow him to absorb spiritual energy and re-shape it into different kinds of bows – with each bow getting stronger as the story progresses and Uryu also gaining more power and strength – which release powerful energy arrows or attacks.  Being intelligent, Uryu would usually search the weak spot of an opponent during combat and aim for that.  


Rambo is one of the most iconic movie characters ever.  With his training as a Green Beret (Special Forces) and experience as a POW (he was tortured regularly when he was one), Rambo is toughened into an intense, badass combat machine proficient in survival and guerilla warfare.  Yes, he had used several weapons during the film saga – from knives to guns to rocket launchers.  But the weapon he used that stood out the most was the bow.  With the bow, Rambo possesses awesome accuracy and can take out opponents armed with guns.  But best of all, he made exploding arrows part of his arsenal!  Again, let me repeat that… EXPLODING ARROWS!!!


Robin Hood is definitely the most iconic and most popular of all fictional archers (There are some who say that Robin Hood has been an actual historical character.  That could be true, but the idea we have of him is through the legend and fiction).  There are different retellings of the legend – through books, movies, animation, comics, and TV shows – but the core of the character is the same:  a heroic outlaw during the medieval period with excellent archery skills who steals from the spoiled rich and gives to the oppressed poor.   (Note: the image I used above is of my two most favorite Robin Hood portrayals: the Kevin Costner-portrayal in “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” and the anthromorphic fox-portrayal from the Disney animated movie) 

The number two and three spots belong to these two and are interchangeable between them.   They are definitely just clones of each other (Green Arrow was created first though).  Hawkeye is Marvel’s talented superhero archer, while Green Arrow is DC’s talented superhero archer.  Both possess awesome accuracy.  Both use trick arrows – arrows with different special functions.   Both are capable martial artists and fencers in close combat.  Both came back from the dead.  Heck, even their wives – Mockingbird and Black Canary – have plenty of similarities with each other.  Still, in spite of the similarities that could lessen the uniqueness of the characters, I find them fascinating superheroes.  Green Arrow was meant to be an archery-themed Batman.  Hawkeye’s transition from crook to prominent Avenger and leader, as well as becoming a size-changing Goliath and a katana-wielding Ronin (transforming himself from a long range-type combatant to a melee-type combatant) at some points in his superhero career, gave great depth to his character.  Archery-themed superheroes seem to be silly, but the comicbooks effectively portrayed the two of them as great and lovable characters.    


No other fictional archer impressed me much more than Legolas.  I haven’t read the LOTR books yet when I first saw the first LOTR film.  I would eventually read the books, but Legolas’ talent as an archer was not presented in great detail in the literature.   Legolas’ performance on the big screen was a lot more magnificent than the archery prowess that was implied in the books.  Legolas would shoot the most ridiculous arrow shots I’ve ever seen.  Not only would he shoot with deadly accuracy that is typical with exceptionally talented fictional archers, but he would also pull out, nock, draw, aim, and shoot an arrow in such fast and fluid fashion that the speed of arrows being released is no different from the speed of bullets being shot from a revolver.   Sometimes, he would even draw and fire two or three arrows at the same time.  In the third film, Legolas’ skill was shown at its best display when he was able to take down even a monstrous oliphaunt (a gigantic elephant-like creature).          


Anonymous said...

what?! where's MERIDA?

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

What about Hua Rong (Hua’s his surname, Rong’s his first name; it’s in Chinese) from the Water Margin/Shui Hu Zhuan/All Men Are Brothers/Outlaws of the Marsh/whatever people call it? He has the talent of piercing a willow leaf from 100 steps away. His actions with the bow and arrow include scaring soldiers looking for his sworn brother (who was mistaken as a bandit), killing an imperial general hunting down Liangshan Marsh, and shooting down a lantern from hundreds of meters away in the battle against the Zhu family (saving the entire army). His other talent is taming wild horses. Also, he is very handsome and charismatic (maybe not in Ancient Chinese drawings, but certainly in comic adaptations and TV shows), and a loyal member of Liangshan. If this list was only for archers in English media, I understand, but if this includes archers from literature everywhere, Hua Rong should be on here.

(I posted this somewhere else as well. Just saw that my favourite archer wasn't here, and decided to speak up.)