The bow and arrow has come back into movie fashion in a big way lately. And it hasn't discriminated when it comes to genre either - showing up among superheroes, young adults and the art house crowd. It slays people (including children), orcs, trolls, monsters, alien fish-like robots, dragons and even flying aircraft carriers. So it also doesn't discriminate when it comes to victims. Not only has this simplest of weapons been part of popular culture since, well, forever, it will make its presence felt in movie theaters for the foreseeable future as well. In this post, I wish to honour the greatest bow and arrow wielders in cinema's past, present, and future. Hit the jump for my top 10.
WARNING: some of the details may involve spoilers for the films discussed.
10. Theseus (Immortals, 2011)
In a Nutshell: Theseus is a mortal man chosen by Zeus to lead the fight against the ruthless King Hyperion, who is on a rampage across Greece to obtain a weapon that can destroy humanity. He isn't even a real archer, that is until he happens upon the Epirus bow...
Weapon of Choice: the legendary Epirus Bow, a weapon of unimaginable power forged in the heavens by Ares. Of all the bows in this list, the Epirus Bow is surely the most hardcore. I mean, it seams to make its own arrows!
Strengths: read above. A mortal man, chosen by Zeus to lead the fight against evil. Oh, and he happens to be really buff, and Superman as well.
Weaknesses: he loses the bow. Yeah, unforgivable. Number 10 for you young man.
9. Princess Merida (Brave, 2012)
In a Nutshell: we don't know her too well just yet, but this trailer for the movie will have you believe that Merida is no slouch with a bow and arrow. Brave hits theatres on June 22nd, and because it's Pixar (and not Cars), it will be awesome.
Weapon of Choice: looks to be a stock standard medieval bow & arrow, but on that is fit for a princess no doubt!
Strengths: she's ginger. It is also likely that she will be underestimated due to her diminutive figure.
Weaknesses: bureaucracy (she is a princess). Her mother also seems rather domineering.
8. Neytiri (Avatar, 2009)
In a Nutshell: Neytiri te Tskaha Mo'at’ite is the Na'vi princess of the Omaticaya clan. She is good with her bow, and because the arrows are the size of broomsticks, she does quite a fair amount of damage too. This includes killing the bad guy, who happens to be in a mech warrior type thing. Questions could be raised. Read this hilarious article over at Cracked.
Weapon of Choice: a big-ass bow, carved from a branch of Hometree. If you know Avatar, you will know Hometree is, like, everything to the Na'vi. It's also been burned to the ground (Colonel Quaritch referred to it as "one big damn tree" before destroying it).
Strengths: the Na'vi are BIG, and big archers need big bows. Those things could shoot down aircraft!
Weaknesses: she's in love with a mere human; she is blue; bows and arrows also happen to be no match for good old firepower.
7. Park Nam-Joo (The Host, 2006)
In a Nutshell: Nam-Joo is a national medalist archer and sister of Gang-du, the seemingly slow witted protagonist and Seoul snack bar owner. Gang-du and family are at the centre of a mutant monster invasion in Seoul, and Nam-Joo's archery skills may be required when the monster kidnaps her baby sister. If you haven't seen The Host, go and get it NOW. This is the best monster movie ever!
Weapon of Choice: a modern, Olympic-style recurve bow. Of course! Sometimes fire is involved.
Strengths: national medalist; on target under extreme pressure.
Weaknesses: sloth-like when taking aim.
6. Kevin Khatchadourian (We Need to Talk About Kevin, 2011)
In a Nutshell: we need to talk about Kevin because he is a psychotic teenager who murdered many innocent people in cold blood with his bow and arrow. The titular antagonist in Lynne Ramsay's 2011 masterpiece really does weigh heavily on his poor mother, not to mention his father and baby sister. He's a damn good shot though! This is why kids should not be given weapons.
Weapon of Choice: a birthday gift from dad (the horror, the horror).
Strengths: psychosis; shows no remorse.
Weaknesses: he is in prison, and doesn't have access to a bow and arrow.
5. Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games, 2012)
In a Nutshell: the girl on fire is the heroine of the smash hit The Hunger Games. She wields a bow and arrow, and uses it mainly for hunting purposes (other than her contemporaries on this list), shooting squirrels through the eye every time. She also shoots apples out of pigs' mouths in order to impress game makers. Pity she doesn't use it more effectively in the arena.
Weapon of Choice: a plain old bow that she probably made herself (Gale mentions this possibility for the arena) in the woods outside District 12. She then uses a fancy silver on in the games, and later on (in the books) she gets something even better.
Strengths: shoots squirrels through the eye.
Weaknesses: doesn't use it properly in the arena; misses target during her private session for the game makers, forcing her to shoot an apple out of a pig's mouth to get their attention. This ruins a perfectly good feast.
4. Bard the Bowman (The Hobbit: There and Back Again, 2013)
In a Nutshell: Bard was the slayer of Smaug; King of Dale; descended from Lord Girion of Dale, whose wife and child had escaped to Laketown when Smaug ruined Dale and took the Lonely Mountain. You may not know him now, but you sure will when Luke Evans portrays him in the second part of Peter Jackson's epic film adaption of The Hobbit.
Weapon of Choice: a great yew bow, but more importantly, the Back Arrow. Forged by Thrór the Dwarf, who was King Under the Mountain, the Black Arrow may or may not have had magical properties (Bard said that he had successfully retrieved it every time he used it).
Strengths: can speak to birds. A thrush told him of the weak spot in Smaug's armor that Bilbo Baggins had discovered. Oh the weird and wonderful world of Tolkien!
Weaknesses: I can't remember, since I haven't read The Hobbit in about 20 years (I'm not that old, I just read it when I was very young). He was probably a drinker. Oh, and he called his son Bain. He was frozen in ice for centuries, but emerged eventually and changed his name to accommodate modern spelling: Bane. See him July 20th in The Dark Knight Rises! Bane doesn't use a bow and arrow though. He just crushes your skull.
3. Robin Hood (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) and Robin Hood (2010))
In a Nutshell: known for robbing the rich and giving to the poor; leads a group of outlaws known as his "Merry Men"; hails from Nottingham Forrest; wears green; skilled archer; subject of multiple film adaptations. I'm not a huge fan, but he is probably the most famous movie archer, so I can't rank him lower than 3.
Weapon of Choice: a yew Longbow.
Strengths: like princess Merida above, can split arrows. Like Katniss, shoots apples (or is that Willam Tell?).
Weaknesses: very sensitive; can't shoot straight when a good looking woman is blowing in his ear.
2. Legolas (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, 2001-2003)
In a Nutshell: son of Thranduil, King of the Woodland Realm of Northern Mirkwood. He is the Elf in The Lord of The Rings. Friend of Gimli the Dwarf, and immensely capable with a bow and arrow, both long range (the Mines of Moria) and in close combat (fighting the Uruk-Hai at the end of Fellowship).
Weapon of Choice: Elvish technology mothafuckas!
Strengths: immortality; can drink like an Irish dockworker; nimbleness.
Weaknesses: looks like a girl.
1. Clint Barton / Hawkeye (The Avengers, 2012)
In a Nutshell: Clinton "Clint" Francis Barton, aka Hawkeye, is part of Marvel's The Avengers. According to Wikipedia, Hawkeye has no superhuman powers, but is at the very peak of human conditioning; he is an exceptional fencer, acrobat and a grandmaster marksman, having been trained from childhood in the circus and by the criminals Trick Shot and Swordsman. Once you've seen The Avengers, you will know that this man can shoot like no other. He does not miss.
Weapon of Choice: a bow employing SHIELD technology, and some seriously awesome "trick arrow". Included are Acid Arrows, Adamantium Arrows (often combined with Electrical arrowhead), Blunt Arrows, Bola Arrows, Boomerang Arrowhead (allows an arrow to return to shooter), Cable Arrow (allowing him to swing through the air), Electrical Arrow, Boxing Glove Arrow, Blast (Explosive) Arrow, Flare Arrow
Magnetic Arrowhead (adheres to metal surfaces; can be added to other arrows), Magnesium Flare Arrow, Net Arrow, Putty Arrow (adheres to rough surfaces, and can stop exposed machinery), Pym Particles Arrow (increases or decreases the size of an object or opponent), Rocket Arrowhead (boosts range, can be added to other arrows), Smoke Arrow, Sonic Arrow, Suction Cup Arrowhead (adheres to smooth surfaces; can be added to other arrows), Tear Gas Arrow, Thermal (Incendiary) Arrow, Vibranium Arrow (must have supplement Magnetic, Putty, or Suction Cup arrowhead to stick to target; deadens kinetic and vibratory energies). Yes, how can he not be number one?
Strengths: he never misses, has more weapon variety than an army, and is with Black Widow.
Weaknesses: susceptible to Loki-induced hypnosis. This is generally bad for his friends.
Special Mention: Jesse (Garden State, 2004)
In a Nutshell: Andrew Largeman's newly wealthy schoolboy friend has too much money and time on his hands. He likes flaming arrows.
Weapon of Choice: looks to be a compound bow, purchased with his excessive moneys.
Strengths: mega wealthy, invented silent velcro.
Weaknesses: can't shoot for shit.