The latest round of posters and promotional images for Avengers: Age of Ultron have been released, and as usual, the question I’m asked whenever Hawkeye shows up is “what about the archery?” So let’s take a look.
This image was released first, and it shows Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye about to go into action. The interesting thing here is that he’s switched hands; in the first Avengers film, Hawkeye was left-handed (more accurately, left-eyed), holding the bow in his right hand and drawing with the left, so that the arrow would be in line with his left eye. Even though most advanced archers shoot with both eyes open, one eye is usually dominant; it’s best to have the arrow closer to that eye. There are ambidextrous archers, some the result of deliberate training, others due to a quirk of vision. For most people, the brain uses one eye to identify the target and the other to triangulate distance. Some people don’t have a dominant eye; some are “center dominant,” able to aim with either eye; others have a different issue; their brains don’t process stereoscopic vision, instead using the eyes one at a time. These people usually have no depth perception.
For archers with normal vision, it’s not uncommon for archers to choose to go against their natural eye-dominance; usually this is in a case of cross-dominance, being right-handed and left-eyed or vice-versa. Archers who prefer to use a particular hand to hold the bow can use an occluder (usually an ordinary piece of translucent tape across the lens of a pair of shooting glasses) to blur the vision of the dominant eye, forcing them to learn to use the other. Some archers practice shooting with the non-dominant eye closed. Hawkeye no doubt would at least play with the idea of shooting ambidextrously, though I suspect the real reason for switching hands is so that Joss Whedon could get dramatic shots of him pointing to the right. And so here we are, with the hero holding an arrow between his fingertips, wearing a shooting glove on his right hand, and (we assume) preparing to draw a bow (it’s outside the frame, and there’s no string visible in the photo, which may be a Photoshop fail.) If I want to nitpick, there’s still a bit of a bend at the wrist, which can be problematic, but it’s vastly improved from what we saw in the poster last time around.
Another set of images was also released all over Twitter, this time by Advanced Graphics, a company that makes life-size cardboard stand-up figures of a wide variety of characters. The web page for Avengers: Age of Ultron shows individual full-body poses of each of the Avengers. We can get a good look at their costumes. Hulk finally got some stretch pants so that Bruce Banner can maintain a shred of dignity when he reverts; Black Widow’s costume now features light-up piping, which would seem to defeat the whole purpose of her ninja-like stealth activities, but, hey, it looks cool. Thor seems to have minimal changes if any, Iron Man looks pretty much the same, but they also have his “Hulkbuster” armor. Captain America’s new uniform is more detailed and more reminiscent of his WWII gear than what he wore in the first Avengers movie. Hawkeye, by contrast, has a whole new outfit including a long coat and brand-new bow. (Good news for cosplayers: the new bow, which looks to me like a modified Hoyt GameMaster II, is about $200 less than his previous bow, the Hoyt Buffalo.)
I have to admit that once again I’m disappointed, but this time it’s not as an archer, but a Photoshop user. Jeremy Renner’s archery technique in this photo is actually pretty good. He has rotated the elbow of his bow arm properly, the wrist on his draw arm is mostly straight, and he has a solid anchor point with his hand against his jaw, somewhere between the usual positions for “traditional” and “Olympic” styles. The elbow on the draw arm is a little high for my taste, but it’s pretty common among trad shooters, including some world champions of my acquaintance. There’s really nothing to complain about from an archery coaching perspective. I give him an A-; a couple of tiny tweaks and he’d nail it.
No, the real failure here is on the part of the retoucher.
It’s pretty obvious that the arrow was added later, and the artist has put it on the wrong side of the bow. This is pretty egregious, because if you simply look at the bow, you can see that it curves around the point where the arrow is supposed to be. There’s nothing on the outside of the bow for it to rest on, apart from the archer’s hand. Aside from looking just plain wrong, it also reflects badly on the actor, because the arrow isn’t pointing where he’s aiming. I’ve gone ahead and corrected it, just so I’d know there’s a version of it out there that looks right.
The same error shows up in the latest movie poster, but this time, if you look closely, you can see that the string actually goes back behind Hawkeye’s hand, most of which is hidden behind Scarlett Johansson’s head. He seems to be holding the arrow instead of the string; in the new solo poster above, the fletches (feathers) are in front of his fingers. Here, the arrow would actually extend about half an inch past where the string would be. The whole poster is stitched together from a lot of images, as they all seem to be these days (man, I miss Drew Struzan! Just imagine what a Struzan Avengers poster would look like), but it’s particularly noticeable with Hawkeye, if we ignore the fact that Tony Stark looks a bit like he may have had a head transplant to remove the helmet. I guess it was really important to see the cast’s faces; secret identities aren’t what they used to be.
All told, the only complaints are about the seriously underwhelming photo manipulation; from what little we’ve seen so far, it looks like Mr. Renner has done his homework and is going to look a lot more like a capable archer in the next film. I hope he’s also discovered the joy of archery and the thrill of shooting well, the way thousands of children and adults have as a result of giving it a try after watching Hawkeye on the big screen.