University. A great time to take in new experiences, go out, make new friends, actually have a girlfriend (take that teenage me!) and of course, that quintessential part of the modern University lifestyle: take up archery.
…only me then? OK, bear with me…
As a (somewhat out of practise) partaker of shooting the pointy things at the big, round flat thing, my attention was recently drawn to a series of articles examining the archery skills on display in what are to be three of this year’s biggest releases. With archery suddenly becoming an oddly specific running theme in cinema at the moment with The Hunger Games, Brave and Avengers Assemble all showcasing the talents of some of their characters with their trusty bows, experienced archery coach Jim MacQuarrie picked apart the shooting on display in their trailers and analysed how accurately the portrayal of each character’s skills stacked up.
For those of you with little to no interest in the finer techniques involved in shooting Robin Hood-style, here’s roughly how they did:
The Hunger Games, Good.
Avengers Assemble, Terrible.
But then to be honest, even with my fairly amateurish level of expertise, I could have come to the same conclusion. The problem? Pretty much everything Jeremy Renner does any time he holds a bow – in the trailers at least.
Putting it simply, to actually be capable of becoming even a mediocre archer, your arm positions, movements, etc. need to be both consistent and well… such that it’s possible to at least aim. Although claiming to have gone through some sort of training before taking up the role (which I can only guess from the trailers extended as far as sticking in 5 minutes of Prince of Thieves before declaring, “Yeah, I got this”), Renner seemingly manages to achieve none of these basics of good archery technique.
You might very well be wondering “why does this matter?” It’s a film and he’s a superhero who’s capable of mystical feats with a bow and arrow, he can shoot however he likes because, you know – he’s Hawkeye. Well that’s just the problem. He’s Hawkeye. We’re talking about a man who’s so good at archery they made him a superhero! I know some damn fine archers and Nick Fury’s never rolled up to a session and asked them to join the Avengers initiative. Hawkeye’s entire strength is that he is effectively the greatest archer the world has ever seen – a fact that becomes hard to believe when he can’t even draw a bow properly.
It’s these finer points and attentions to detail that will go straight over the heads of most movie-goers, but if you are one of the few in the know then watching Renner struggle with some of the basics, let alone that shot of him falling from a building shooting sideways while not even drawing the bow all the way back (meaning it would be impossible for anyone to get full power regardless of their talent – it’s just physics people) can really make it hard to hold onto the belief that this guy is the best of the best.
Allow me to share one example you can all enjoy, and maybe look out for in the film.
Here is a publicity photo of Renner in archery-mode:
You may not see the same subtle ways his technique is wrong as an archery coach can, but there is one detail in this photo we can all appreciate, or rather two. Because that’s precisely how many arm guards Renner is wearing in this picture.
Wearing two armguards is practically unheard of. Most people wear one, or if they’re very confident none at all. If you’re wondering what exactly the armguard is there for, it’s to stop the possibility of the string whacking you on the arm as it shoots past. As your technique improves, the odds of this happening shrink down to practically nothing as you become more proficient at keeping that arm of yours safely and consistently in place, out of the way of the path of the string.
Here’s my permanent scar from when I apparently didn’t have the armguard placed exactly as needed early on in my archery days:
So it strikes me as a little odd that the greatest archer on the planet not only lacks the confidence to go without one armguard, but feels the need to wear two. This could pretty much only have come about for one reason – Renner must have been hitting the crap out of his arm. Now this may just be one tiny little detail, but boy does it ruin the illusion that he’s a badass with a bow.
Now this particular example was just a publicity-shot, so I hope (having not seen the film at the time of writing) that Hawkeye doubling-up on armguards hasn’t made the final cut. I’m really hoping that in the end Renner figured out what he was doing and became the believable archery-God we all want to see, because if he hasn’t, you might not notice, but I and a few others certainly will.
Not that this is going to ruin the movie for me or anything, I’m still immensely excited, and thankfully there are still a few other superheroes in the film whose talents Mr MacQuarrie can’t pick holes in – I’m guessing he’s not much of an expert on flying, rocket suits, hammer-wielding Gods, super-soldiers or giant, green dudes who need a little anger management.