Ridley Scott’s faux-historical take on the legend of Robin Hood is coming to theaters this weekend, promising plenty of arrow slinging and action. Robin Hood isn’t the only bow in town, though. There’s a rich history of fictional archers, and here’s a look at ten of the greatest.
10. Bard from The Hobbit
Bard of Dale is the only non-magical human hero in The Hobbit, and he also is the only character who gets advice at critical moments from thrushes. I’m not saying humans are bird-talking Dr. Doolittle loonies, but I have to look sideways at a guy who converses with woodland creatures in the middle of battle. Still, that thrush guided Bard’s arrow to the weak spot in Smaug the dragon’s hide, ensuring peace in all the land. Or, well, until Sauron went ring crazy a little later.
9. Susan Pevensie from The Chronicles of Narnia
Susan begins her adventure as a wartime orphan who likes to rummage in closets. After Santa Claus (well, Father Christmas, but same diff) puts a bow and arrow in her stocking, she transforms into an arrow-notching, bullseyeing war machine. Well, actually she becomes a queen who occasionally likes to shoot things, but wouldn’t a spinoff about Susan going rogue have been awesome?
8. John Rambo from Rambo
With both of the previous entries on this list being from the realm of fantasy and all the remaining ones being either superheroes or legendary figures, it’s good to see a modern day hero who’s not afraid to go old school and throw an arrow into the skull of every anti-American stunt man between here and Myanmar. Sure, Rambo usually relies on guns and explosives, but he’s just at home with a good bow in hand.
7. Huntress from DC Comics
After all the attention paid to wielders of composite bows, recurve bows, longbows, and all the rest, we now turn our attention to the Huntress, DC Comics’s definitive badass on crossbows. The original Huntress was a villain, but the second incarnation was Helena Wayne, the daughter of an alternate universe version of Batman and Catwoman. Helena was the one to take up the signature crossbow, still used today by the current Huntress, Helena Bertinelli (after the AU Bat-Cat-daughter was retconned away in Crisis on Infinite Earths).
6. Arwyn from Sojourn
Sojourn was a comic in the early ’00s that told the story of Arwyn, a widowed archer who set out on a quest of vengeance with dog Kreeg and her one-eyed swashbuckling pal. They traveled the lands of Quin in search of shards from a magic arrow she would use to kill the villainous, wizardous Mordath. Arwyn was a crack shot with her bow, and nothing could impede her progress… except for the bankruptcy of publisher Crossgen and the subsequent screeching halt of their best comic series.
5. Bullseye from Marvel Comics
Now we’re coming to the part of the list where you pretty much have to include people based on their names alone. Bullseye is an assassin in Marvel Comics with deadly aim. His primary skill isn’t archery, as he prefers doing things like perforating your trachea with unbent paperclips, but he’s still enough of an expert marksman with bows that he took up the guise of Hawkeye during Norman Osborn’s ill-advised attempt to run the Avengers (into the ground).
4. Hawkeye from Marvel Comics
The real Hawkeye, Clint Barton, trumps the rest of the Marvel Universe when it comes to archery. He’s so good at what he does that he’s no longer content with firing one arrow at a time. In recent comics you can find him blotting out the proverbial sun with a swarm of arrows, and he’s not averse to using the occasional trick arrow as well. He’s so good that he even joined the circus! Not that joining the circus is a true measure of grandmaster archery, but I just had to include that bit.
3. Legolas from The Lord of the Rings
After seeing Orlando Bloom hopping around and dispatching Elven style carnage and mayhem in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings movies, I wanted to be an archer. I had to settle for playing Lord of the Rings Online, but still! Legolas’s skill with the bow is so uncanny and effortless that he manages to fit in some prime arrow shots during pretty much everything he does… skateboarding on shields, Tarzaning around giant beasts, munching on some lembas…
2. Green Arrow from DC Comics
When you have a character who calls himself the Green Arrow, you know he’s serious about either archery or making legal left turns. In DC Comics’s case, it’s the former, as super mega archery expert supreme Oliver Queen reigns as the greatest bowman in comics. I mean, come on, he even once had a lair called the Arrowcave. As far as I know, he never joined the circus, but I refuse to let that knock him down the list.
1. Robin Hood
Did you really think anyone else could be at the top of this list? Robin Hood is the folk hero who inspired nearly every ensuing fictional archer. He was so good that he had a fan club that hung out with him in Sherwood Forest, long before fan clubs existed. He was so good that he fired an arrow to show folks where he wanted to be buried. He was so good that Errol Flynn could play him without his pencil thin mustache looking too ridiculous. Well, mostly.
There you have it: ten archers who could William Tell an apple off your head blindfolded. Do you have any favorite archers I missed? My apologies for not including Kid Icarus, but there were only ten slots, you know.