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The Way Of The Arrow!: 6 Of The Greatest Archers In Popculture

by Kristy Anderson 13 days ago in superheroes

These archers are right on target!

Credit: Disney.

After nearly a decade as the Avengers' token 'Badass Normal', Clint Barton is about to take centre stage in the new series Hawkeye, about to debut on Disney Plus. The series will see Clint team up with another would-be hero and talented archer, Kate Bishop, after Kate inadvertently causes Clint's time as Ronin in Avengers: Endgame to come back and haunt him, threatening his chance for a normal Christmas with his family.

First appearing in a cameo in Thor, before stepping into a starring role in the Avengers films, Clint, played by Jeremy Renner, is one of a number of characters who have prompted renewed interest in the sport of archery. In honour of the character's solo adventure hitting the small screen, let's look at where he stands among some of popculture's other great archers.

1. Robin Hood

Everyone knows some version of the story of Robin Hood. After having fought in the Crusades alongside the much-loved King Richard the Lionheart, Robin returns home to find that his home and lands have been seized by the Sheriff of Nottingham, and that King Richard's throne has been usurped by his younger brother, Prince John. John and the Sheriff are also terrorising the people of England with absurdly high taxes. So, Robin Hood chooses to become an outlaw to fight back against them. With a group of loyal Merry Men, Robin takes up residence in Sherwood Forest, robbing rich passers by in order to give back to the poor. Many versions of the story have Robin lured into a trap by the Sherrif through the use of an archery competition.

As an icon of English folklore, many TV series and films starring Robin have been produced. Some, like the BBC TV series or Russel Crowe film, are serious takes on the story, while others, such as Robin Hood: Men In Tights, or Disney's animated version, portraying Robin as an anthropomorphic fox, are more fun.

2. Clint Barton/Hawkeye

Credit: Marvel.

Hawkeye, aka Clint Barton, first appeared in Marvel Comics in 1964. While his story has been re-imagined a few times since, Clint's original origins had him as a child who ran away to the Circus after the deaths of his parents, where he was trained and eventually became one of the world's greatest archers. His first few comic appearances had him as an accidental villain, after he was framed for theft, and then manipulated into villainous acts by the Black Widow, then a villain herself. After clearing his name and redeeming himself, Hawkeye joins the Avengers, and has been a regular member of their rotating roster ever since.

Some later comics, such as the Matt Fraction Hawkeye series, incorporate elements of child abuse into Hawkeye's backstory. This abuse, as well as an accident while battling a villain, contributed to the character's hearing being damaged.

In the MCU, Hawkeye is introduced as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D, working under Nick Fury and Phil Coulson. He shares a close bond with Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, after choosing to recruit her to S.H.I.E.L.D instead of assassinating her. After Natasha frees him from Loki's mind control in Avengers, he happily joins the team. Age of Ultron introduces Clint's wife Laura, and children, Cooper, Lila, and baby Nate. When Laura and the kids become victims of the Blip, Clint goes on a five-year long rampage, murdering numerous criminals who feels weren’t worthy of surviving, until he is eventually lured back to the Avengers by Nat. However, his time as Ronin leaves Clint in a spot of trouble when Hawkeye begins.

3. Katniss Everdeen

From the moment she volunteered to spare her beloved little sister from the Hunger Games, a brutal contest pitting children against each other in a fight to the death, fans fell in love with Katniss Everdeen. Right from the beginning of The Hunger Games series, both the books and the films, it is made clear that Katniss's skill as an archer is one of her greatest strengths. After surviving her initial games, and using her archery skills to shoot down the forcefield, allowing her allies to rescue her from the Quarter Quell games, Katniss reluctantly agrees to become The Mockingjay, the symbol of the poor District's rebellion against the Capitol.

Katniss is credited with getting a generation of young girls interested in Archery. Columbian athlete Valentina Acosta, who made her Olympic debut in the Tokyo Games, claims to have developed her passion for the sport after reading the Hunger Games books. Katniss is also widely believed to be the inspiration behind Nerf's Rebelle range, aimed at teenage girls. The first item launched in the range was a bow.

4. The Green Arrow/Oliver Queen

Credit: DC

Oliver Queen, aka the Green Arrow, made his debut in the anthology series 'More Fun Comics', a title that spawned many popular DC heroes, in 1941. Inspired by a popular (and, in fact, real) movie serial, The Green Archer, Oliver, along with his sidekick Speedy, decides to use his own archery skills to act as a costumed vigilante. Originally the B-Story of 'More Fun Comics', Green Arrow and Speedy soon became the main feature, quickly earning their own title when their publishing company morphed into DC Comics. Oliver eventually became a member of the Justice League.

When the DC Universe relaunched as the New 52, Oliver Queen's backstory was reimagined. He had now learned his archery and martial arts skills while stranded on a mysterious island. This origin story was eventually used in the long-running CW series Arrow, in which Stephen Amell starred as Oliver. The Green Arrow hasn't made a jump to the big screen yet, but fans of the character still hold out hope that he will sometime soon.

5. Legolas

Legolas is a wood elf, and one of the major characters of J.R.R Tolkien's Lord of the Rings novels. He first appears as a representative of his people during Elrond's Council, called to discuss the matter of the One Ring. After Frodo Baggins offers to transport the Ring to Mordor in order to destroy it, Legolas swears his bow to Frodo, joining the Fellowship of the Ring as it's Archer. When the Fellowship disbands, Legolas continues to travel with fellow members Aragorn and Gimli, a Dwarf, fighting in multiple important battles together. Despite the enmity between their species, Legolas and Gimli form a close friendship.

In Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings films, Legolas is played by Orlando Bloom. Bloom reprised his role in The Hobbit trilogy.

6. Kate Bishop

Credit: Marvel

Kate Bishop made her debut in Marvel Comics in 2005. After being attacked in Central Park, Kate chooses to train in various forms of martial arts. While she was not a founding member of the Young Avengers, Kate joined the team soon after it's inception, after saving them during a botched mission, and takes up the mantle of Hawkeye to honour the original, who was assumed dead. When Captain America orders the Young Avengers to disband, it is Kate who keeps them together, offering an empty warehouse as a base and using her wealth to bankroll the team's activities.

Later, Kate becomes the first of the Young Avengers to be fully accepted by Captain America, who gifts her with Clint Barton's old bow. When Barton is revealed to be alive, Kate attempts to come up with a new codename for herself, but Clint instead decides to share the Hawkeye mantle. They have done so happily ever since, even when serving on the same team.

In Disney Plus's new Hawkeye series, Kate Bishop will be played by Hailee Steinfeld. A young Archer who has idolised Clint since childhood, she ends up working with him after getting into a sticky situation with his old Ronin suit. Already an icon in the comics, Kate is quickly becoming a favourite with audiences.

Soon, we may see another generation of little girls taking up archery, in the hope of emulating Kate Bishop.

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Kristy Anderson

Passionate About all things Entertainment!

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Kristy Anderson
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