Archery is usually seen as a 'weak' skill to have in the seemingly overwhelming physical realm of heroic powers. Whatever your stance on the archers importance to the heroic conquest, there have been several inspiring and determined archers in the history of fiction. Whether it is through literature, film, television, video games, anime or comic books - the archers we have seen and read about have been truly gifted.
Archery in the historical context dates back thousands of years as the primary venue for hunting and even combat. Many classical civilizations trained large ranks of archers into their armies; notably the Assyrians, Persians, Chinese and Japanese. Along with the historical background, archery is firmly rooted in Greek mythology, spawning stories of Apollo, Artemis, Eros, Orion and even Hippolytus. Some of these Greek characters have even crossed over into anime and comic book lore adding to their legacy. There is a romantic charm to many archers in current culture which has aided in their resurgence into many of our favorite entertainment venues.
I thought I'd take a minute and look at some of the more popular characters that we've been introduced to over the years.
Robin Hood is one of the most iconic archers, without a doubt. He has been portrayed in nearly every venue: books, movies, animation, comics and even television. Robin Hood is even said to be based on a true historical character, although his legend (as often legends are) is a grandiose retelling of the heroic outlaw who used his archery skills to steal from the spoils of the rich and return those gains to the oppressed poor in medieval times. At his core, he wishes to balance the playing field, and stop the abuse of power.
Portrayed by many actors over the years, he has become a backbone of sorts to the stereotypical archer. His mannerisms and characteristics have been melded into may of the following archers.
Keira Knightly had the opportunity to play a couple archers on film (Princess of Thieves being the other film), but as Guinevere she portrayed the stronger character. Guinevere is from Arthurian legend as the queen to King Arthur. In the film King Arthur from 2004, she proved to be more than just a romantic story-arc, she showed her archery skills were well deserved to be on par with nearly any archer.
Guinevere is a model for many female archers in film as she is determined to fight for justice and has the strength to make sure that truth and honor prevail.
Blasting onto the screen as a strong archer in Wrath of the Titans, Andromeda (portrayed by Rosamund Pike) had come a long way since the first film. She made the conscious choice to become a real heroine. When we first met her in Clash of the Titans she was helpless and in need of being rescued, but through her personal growth and training she made sure that she would never need to be rescued again.
She joins this list of archers through sheer strength of will and determination to be a true warrior.
Legolas was introduced through the epic telling of the Lord of the Rings Saga written by J.R.R. Tolkien. Legolas is light-hearted through much of the LotR trilogy of films. Through the classical literature his character isn't expanded on as much as we see through the films by Peter Jackson. Although through the movies, Legolas is presented as a fighter without match, he is nimble and unwavering in the face of peril. He faces threats head on and often alone, sometimes preferring it rather than being forced to rely on another for assistance as he believes that he is just following the winds leading.
Legolas is a skilled archer as he was raised on the Elven woods and archery for him is in part for battle training, but also keeps him rooted in his appreciation and honor of the land and wilderness.
Thanks to DC's show Arrow, Oliver Queen has gained standing as one of the best archers in comic book history. More often than not, the archers in comic books tend to be far more comical and ineffective which only served to play into the assumption that archery is a waste of talent. Yet, Green Arrow is far from a waste. His story bears many similarities to that of Bruce Wayne. Son of wealthy parents who inherits a large wealth of money and ultimately decides to turn to a secret life of vigilante-ism to protect the people of his city. He fights to protect those he loves and is determined to bear the weight of being a hero, no matter the cost.
Green Arrow is skilled in other combat techniques outside of archery and has proven himself a competent fighter in close quarters as well as from a distance. His roots in archery are out of necessity and survival which helped him become one of the greatest archers ever known.
Similarly to Green Arrow, Hawkeye is the pinnacle of comic book archers. Hawkeye is the Marvel equivalent in terms of skill and characteristics. Orphaned at a young age, Clint Barton (Hawkeye) was taken in by a traveling circus where he was trained to be a master archer. He then became a reluctant villain before meeting and joining the Avengers and being trained in combat by Captain America. Although he tends to lead a lone wolf.
Hawkeye is as skilled as any archer on this list, often proving himself to be resourceful in battle and stepping outside of his comfort zone as an archer and stepping into the fray to assist his team.
An incredibly strong character throughout The Hunger Games. She volunteered to join the battle for survival in place of her sister. She is a skilled archer, having grown up hunting for her families food in District 12. Through her time in the hunger games as a tribute, she even further honed her archery skills becoming even more proficient. She is incredibly independent and a strong survivalist and has an innate ability to think outside the box when trying to solve problems.
Although she is a skilled hunter, she doesn't have the cold-blooded thirst to kill as she strives to find a merciful solution first but when it comes down to it, she will kill if necessary.
The eldest sister of the four Pevensie children depicted in the Chronicles of Narnia series. Through her time in Narnia, she proves herself an accomplished archer even defeating the best archer in Narnia in a competition. Through the series it is said that her archery skills are only rivaled by her beauty as she was pursued by many royal suitors, yet that didn't stop her from fighting when needed.
Although she is seen as a 'wet blanket' as she aged, she proved herself in battle time and time again. Susan is gentle and tender-hearted, often seeking a diplomatic approach but she will not hesitate to protect her family and those that she loves.
Merida joins the ranks of incredible archer, she is introduced in the Disney film, Brave, as the tomboyish daughter of the King and Queen of DunBroch (Highlands of Scotland). She is brave, daring, stubborn and headstrong: a far cry from the stereotypical princess. She is set to be the 'prize' to be married off to the winner of the Highland Games. She sneaks into the competition and fights for her freedom rather than marriage.
She is a strong character in personality as well as in her archery skills. Her unruly nature and impulsiveness bring her into sticky situations, but as she is clever and quick thinking she can always manage a way out.
Uryū was introduced as an antagonist in the anime, Bleach. Over time he formed bonds with the rest of the characters and ultimately became friends with them. He for a long time considered himself the last Quincy, a tribe of arrow wielding warriors who are at war with the hollows and the soul reapers that protect the known world. He tends to be solitary and quiet, often choosing to fight alone rather than ask for help. He operates on his own sense of morality, but ultimately has a strong sense of justice. He is an efficient archer and will often choose to not use lethal force instead opting to simply incapacitate his adversaries. As he trains his mind and body he becomes an even better archer, gaining new skills and abilities.
Uryū is by far one of the greatest archers in anime, and has proven himself many times to be a skilled warrior and tactician as he has been integral to the success of many aspects of the stories told throughout the anime.
Ruriko is a Gate Keeper from the Playstation turn-based strategy game, Gate Keepers, which later was adapted into an anime series. Ruriko is recruited by A.E.G.I.S. (Alien Exterminating Global Intercept System) an elite and highly secretive organization that has been tasked with protecting the world against invading enemies. The Gate Keepers have the ability to open dimensional gates which give the keepers acces to paranormal abilities and powers. Ruriko can materialize a bow and arrow and use it during combat.
She has shown a great ability for combat, in addition her abilities stem from the gate of light which had healing properties (which after she was kidnapped became corrupted and she had power over the gate of genocide).
Rinslet is introduced in Bladedance of Elementalers as the spoiled child of this collection of archers. She has a proud attitude and often passes her kindness off as a minor thing, as she tries to maintain her status as an aristocrat. Beneath her facade, she cares deeply for her friends and is driven by her love for her family. She has a partnership with her contracted spirit Fenrir which gives her the ability to produce a long bow and can equip it faster than any other blade dancer.
Her ability as an archer is renowned, as she is seen an an excellent sniper and is at best from a distance, which is true of nearly any archer.
I know, unique name right? - But it works. Archer is a character from the anime series Fate/Stay Night. He may not be an archer at heart, as he is often seen as a magus first and archer second. That fact doesn't detract from his abilities as an archer. He is a seeker of justice (at times blindly seeking it). Archer is strong and a worthy opponent even though he is seen as a paradox compared to other servants in the Holy Grail War. He is the most versatile and adaptable of all of them. He is skilled in highly skilled in close combat even though his primary attribute should be that of a ranged fighter.
Archer has incredible power behind his bow and can devastate any oncoming attacker whether it's a direct or sneak attack. His prowess with the bow is nearly unmatched as he can mark targets with pin-point accuracy from an incredibly long range.