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Posted at 12:51 PM ET, 03/22/2012

‘Hunger Games’ and the rise of the pop culture archer


Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) preparing to launch an arrow. (Murray Close - AP/Lionsgate)

The bow and arrow is not a new weapon. In fact, it’s about as old as ammunition gets. Greek mythological figures, from Artemis to Apollo, used it. So did Cupid. Even Robin Hood took advantage of those pointy projectiles while attempting to steal from the rich and give to the poor.

Perhaps it’s appropriate then, that in this time of recession rebounding and Occupy movements, such a primitive, DIY object is about to come back into pop cultural vogue. Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games” is clearly leading the bow and arrow wave. But over the next few months, expect to see several female fictional characters, as well as male ones, demonstrating the intimidation factor achieved when one strikes a bull’s eye with a pointy, wood dart.

To be clear, we’ve seen archers in Hollywood enterprises before. Legolas of the “Lord of the Rings” films knew his way around a bow. Rambo did, too. More recently, Daryl from TV’s “Walking Dead” has been spotted with a crossbow. (Like Katniss, he also has a tendency to go after the squirrels ... when he’s not shooting zombies, that is.)

In fact, if one could draw a Venn diagram that shows where modern pop culture weaponry (high-tech guns, lasers, light sabers) meets the old-schoolness of the bow and arrow, it would probably feature Chewbacca, with his crossbow-esque gun from “Star Wars,” smack in the center. As a matter of fact, I’m sure that’s what the Venn diagram would look like.


(Graphic created by The Post’s Paul Williams)

But due in large part to the Katniss Everdeening of America, the arrow is soaring toward a new zenith of zeitgeist significance. The L.A. Times reports that archery as an actual pastime is on the rise, largely because of “Hunger Games” mania. A recent Parade magazine cover story on “The Hunger Games” also noted that USA Archery, the national association focused on the sport, has seen a 161% growth in its Facebook fans over the past 15 months, again, primarily because of Katniss.

But she’s not the only one we’re going to see shooting arrows on screens large and small. The bow-and-arrow trend will also remain strong in 2012 thanks to:

Merida of Pixar’s “Brave”

This fiery redheaded Scottish girl is the first heroine of a Pixar film (due out in June), and one who demonstrates her strong will and independent mind by shooting targets with impressive precision. Consider her a distant, animated cousin of Katniss, with a thicker brogue.

Tauriel of “The Hobbit

This head of the Elven guard is a new character created specifically for Peter Jackson’s film adaptation (coming in December) of the Tolkien tale. Yes, she’ll shoot arrows. And yes, she is being played by Evangeline Lily, the actress formerly known as Kate Austen on “Lost.” But reportedly, Tauriel is not literally linked to Legolas, though clearly her proficiency as an archer will remind audiences of Orlando Bloom.

Archery competitors at the Summer Olympics

Want to bet that more people will pay attention to archery during this year’s Games in London? No, seriously, do you want to? Because I will happily take your money.

CW’s The Green Arrow

The comic book hero is getting his own TV show, assuming the pilot gets picked up for the fall season. The first image of star Stephen Arnell in character emphasizes the daunting sight of a man in leather holding a taut bow and carrying a pack of arrows on his back.

Hawkeye in “The Avengers”

Further cementing the bow and arrow’s cultural prominence is its role in what is poised to be the first blockbuster of the summer. Hawkeye — the Avenger played by Jeremy Renner and previously glimpsed briefly in last summer’s “Thor” — is indeed touted as an expert at landing on his targets. But is he better than Katniss? Surely this important matter will be debating extensively after “The Avengers” arrives in theaters on May 4.

Got a favorite pop culture archer? Can anyone compare to Katniss Everdeen? Weigh in by posting a comment.

By  |  12:51 PM ET, 03/22/2012

Categories:  Movies | Tags:  Hunger Games

 
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