In a paper published in The Year’s Work in Medievalism, I followed the trend of depicting living armored warriors covered with arrows from medieval chronicles to Samurai films to comic books. The image continues to find prevalence in popular culture, and I made the following conclusion
The spectacle of a hedgehogged warrior is emerging in popular culture and we can expect to see more occurrences of it in film and television, especially in worlds where padded armor and chainmail are prevalent, namely, anything medieval and particularly in fantasy worlds.“Warriors ‘Hedgehogged’ in Arrows: Crusaders, Samurai, and Wolverine in Medieval Chronicles and Popular Culture,” The Year’s Work in Medievalism 33 (2018): 77.
And Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021) is proving my case!
The theatrical version of Justice League (2017) didn’t though. There, the villain known as Steppenwolf has a brief fight with the Amazons, and they manage to shoot one arrow at him, but it just deflects off his plate-like armor.
However, in the new 2021 version of the film, Steppenwolf’s medieval-esque armor gets an upgrade, featuring scales that seem to breath and ripple over his skin.
In his fight with the Amazons this time, they turn him into a pincushion with at least 17 arrows in his abdomen, as he flails and fights them off.
After Steppenwolf disposes of his assailants, he takes a moment to pose with the arrows sticking out of his abdomen, and then flexes to seemingly squeeze the arrows out of his armor.
In terms of the potential for the image of the hedgehogged warrior in “anything medieval and particularly in fantasy worlds,” Steppenwolf manages to hit both notes with his metal scales that are reminiscent of chainmail but appears to be living as well. Whether this was truly part of Snyder’s original vision for Justice League, it has made it into the latest version in 2021 and now it’s just the latest example of a growing trend to depict armored warriors as hedgehogs of arrows in popular culture