Making the Grade: Hawkeye’s Arrows

Acid arrow
Sure, the idea of a glorified archer holding his own against actual gods and walking weapons of mass destruction sounds ridiculous, but if there’s anything this summer’s Avengers movie has taught us (other than “we might as well just give all our money to Joss Whedon now”), it’s that all you need to be a true superhero is courage. That said, it doesn’t hurt to pack a lot of tricked-out arrows, either. Take Hawkeye’s acid arrow, which contains a bulb of concentrated nitric acid that bursts on impact. I’m not sure how often you would need to burn holes through doors or walls from a safe distance, but it certainly sounds like one of those arrows you’ll smack yourself for not having handy when you really need it. C

Smoke bomb arrow
This one emits thick clouds of chemical smoke for those times when you need a smokescreen somewhere other than where you’re standing. That… doesn’t sound very practical, to be honest. I mean, Batman also carried a few smoke bombs when he needed a dramatic exit, but he didn’t toss those mothers as far as he could and then sneak out the back door while the bad guys were wondering what caused the sudden fog bank on the far side of the room. D

Putty arrow
This one has a bulb of highly sticky chemicals that bursts upon impact to, one assumes, immobilize a fleeing or charging felon. Know what else can do the same job? Standard-issue arrowhead right through the kneecap. Just sayin’. This one looks highly suspicious, aerodynamically speaking, but then the bumblebee also supposedly defies the fancy-pants scientists who say it shouldn’t be able to fly, either. So rock on, humble bumblebee. And rock on, putty arrow. B-

Sonic arrow
This one, according to the infallible Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe (1986 edition), “emits a high-pitched, 95-decibel sound two seconds after release.” By comparison, that’s the aural equivalent of hurling an oncoming subway train at your intended target. Which, to be fair, would be way cooler to see. What’s interesting about this arrow is this little tidbit from Hawkeye’s bio: “Hawkeye is 80% deaf in both ears, due to a recent accident, and wears specially designed miniature hearing aids.” So we have a partially deaf superhero using a weapon that, if deployed as intended, inflicts the same disability on his quarry. That… makes him a dick, frankly. I mean, you don’t see Daredevil running around with knitting needles and aiming them at the Kingpin’s corneas, or Professor X breaking the spine of every evil mutant that pisses him off. Why? Because they are not dicks, that’s why. C-

Explosive tip arrow
Now we’re talking. There are few, if any, reasons why someone would want to be standing right next to something about to explode, so the distance thing is a must. And even if he never uses them on bank robbers and invading aliens, just the fact he could makes him far more badass than at least two-thirds of the cast from The Expendables. He could have nothing but a quiver full of these arrows in his solo movie debut and pull in $100 million in tickets sales on opening weekend alone. Picture it: a shot of Hawkeye releasing one of these bad boys, followed by a shot of him walking away slo-mo from a massive fireball in the background. That would be the mack daddy cool of movie trailers. Come on, Whedon — get on that. A+

Bola arrow
At this point, you have to start wondering if Hawkeye is putting more work into his crime-fighting arsenal than necessary. A smoke bomb works just as fine without a shaft attached to it; so, too, would a properly placed acid canister or sonic device. But no, the guy is all about arrows, so a bola arrow it must be. You have to marvel at the logistics of it; not only would Hawkeye have to shoot the arrow in such a way that it perfectly positions the bolas in exactly the right position to ensnare his target, but the bolas also have to “know” exactly when to release from the rest of the arrow to do their thing. My theory: he just really, really likes arrows. C-

At the risk of learning something, I did some research to find out what happens to a body that’s hit with 21,000 volts of electricity, which this arrow (according to my Handbook) delivers upon impact. The first result in my Google search was a BBC news story about a British thief who tried to steal live cables from a power sub-station, and got a 21,000-volt shock instead. The impact blew part of his skull off, leaving his brain exposed, and his burns were so extensive his own daughter didn’t recognize him. Which brings me back to my “Hawkeye is a dick” theory. D

Cable arrow
What I love about this one is the specificity of the Handbook entry about it: “Contains spool of 50-foot length of .036 inch cable which unreels through shaft.” I can just imagine the intense debate that went into deciding those figures: “No, no, it has to be thin enough to realistically fit 50 feet of it inside the shaft, but strong enough to support Hawkeye, whom we’ve already  established on page 38 is 230 lbs. And I’m telling you, using .034 inch cable won’t do the job! We better get this one right because I am not talking to that one nerd who keeps calling us to say we got the tensile strength of Spider-Man’s webbing totally wrong.” If anyone has ever tried to make their own trick arrows using these specs, I think I have to meet them. B+

Suction-tip arrow 
Otherwise known as the “Peter Parker’s palm special” (…and now my mind has gone someplace I didn’t want to go), this arrow’s tip is “covered with micro-adhesors capable of sticking to almost anything.” That’s… great, I guess. I mean, you could shoot a bunch of them to scale a wall — assuming you don’t have your grappling-hook-and-cable arrow (and show me a self-respecting superhero archer who doesn’t pack one of those). Or you could shoot it at someone chasing you and make your getaway while he stands there wondering why an arrow is stuck to their chest — you know, assuming you’ve run out of every other arrow on this list. Other than that, you could use it to — I don’t know, hang up your car keys when you can’t find a hook? Truly, the Zeppo of trick arrows. D



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