Despite its long running success, Arrow is a bit of an odd fish in the shared DC TV universe.
In the “Flarrowverse” as it has come to be known you have the likes of The Flash and Supergirl, which present a more light-hearted, family-centered show built upon togetherness and saccharine sweet relationships and genuinely likeable characters. And then there’s Legends of Tomorrow, the increasingly camp and nonsensical — yet highly enjoyable — character driven time-travel show that takes itself about as seriously as Donald Trump’s hairstylist takes his job.
Tonally Arrow is miles apart from the other two main-universe shows, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. And in many ways it’s the brooding big brother of the group, a dynamic which is highlighted especially in the multiple Flash/Arrow crossover episodes we’ve had so far.
The Good, The Bad, And The Arrow
After getting off to a great start back with Arrow Season 1 back in 2012, it’s not a stretch to say that the show has risen and fallen in quality, with the recent couple seasons in particular
There are a lot of things Arrow has done really well — Oliver’s development from the vigilante “Hood” to the morally confused “Arrow” and finally the heroic “Green Arrow” for one. But equally there’s a lot of missed opportunities in the show’s dynamic and no — .
The character of Oliver Queen is not so much a failing of the show, but it is in danger of becoming one. And when you have issues in the character who holds the titular role and the majority of narrative movement, it’s going to cause problems for the rest of the show.
Despite the fact that we’re getting into Season 5 soon, Arrow at its core is still a transitional story: charting Oliver’s first steps into hero-hood, becoming the Green Arrow. But though he took on that mantle in the last season, Oliver Queen is still far from the Green Arrow that comic book readers will be familiar with — and that’s where the show trips up.
Modelled after the heroic vigilante outlaw Robin Hood, the Oliver Queen of the comic books has a similar origin but is in many ways very different to that of his Arrow counterpart.
We’ve already seen elements of the Green Arrow comics brought over into the show, such as Oliver discovering the existence of a son he didn’t know about, the relationships between Oliver and the Black Canary Lance sisters, and that flash-forward episode of Legends of Tomorrow in which
But the big missed opportunity (so far anyway) is Oliver’s personality. Well, that and the lack of goatee.
Why So Moody?
The comic book Green Arrow isn’t exactly the most serious character in DC — he has the nerve to call Batman and Superman “the Hitler Twins” and Green Lantern a “gay biker”. He’s loud, outspoken and often not very serious, cracking Dad jokes left right and centre. He has a lot of heart, and he wears it on his sleeve.
Indeed in may ways the Oliver of Arrow is more Batman than Green Arrow — the brooding stoic type — which is disappointing when you consider how many times we’ve seen Batman on screen already. And Green Arrow isn’t a stoic character — he’s a sarcastic, over-dramatic drama queen who likes to shout and rage, and that’s kinda why we love him.
But he’s not just some comic relief: most importantly, Green Arrow is passionate. He cares about his family and his loved ones and the people of Star City. We never really get this impression from Oliver.
Sure, a lot of what he does is to protect his family and his city (If we have to hear him say “You have failed this city!” one more time…), but he never really seems like he wants to be doing what he does. Indeed this is a major struggle for his character in Season 3, but it never really goes away and you never feel like being the Green Arrow is a calling for him, rather than a chore.
Not like — say for example — Green Arrow bantering with Harley Quinn in Injustice: Gods Among Us, or being a sarcastic bitch to Superman whilst approaching his impending death in ” “.
And beyond that, no offence Oliver but you could do with being a little less angsty and depressing. It get weary after four seasons, and his own self-defeating attitude towards personal relationships and the like really trips him up, making him at times a thoroughly unlikeable guy.
This is perhaps highlighted best in The Flash crossovers, which typically see Oliver and the rest of Team Arrow joining up with members of Team Flash to thwart some great antagonistic force. The League of Assassins, for example:
The crossover episodes often present Oliver in stark contrast to the more light-hearted relationships between members of Team Flash — and you can’t use his tragic backstory as an excuse here, all The Flash characters carry their own demons, they just don’t let it become the basis of their personalities.
Sure, the lonely brooding vigilante schtik has long been a key staple of many superhero archetypes — especially in the DC Universe. But it’s not really a key facet of Green Arrow, especially in the more modern iterations like Green Arrow And Black Canary and
But Does This Really Matter?
At the end of the day, if you’ve never read the comic books and just want to appreciate Arrow as a stand-alone separate from that world then by all means you are allowed to do so.
But for the rest of us it’s a little disheartening to see what could’ve been, especially when Green Arrow was originally such a refreshing character. But hey, who knows, maybe we’ll see a goateed Green Arrow showing up in the at some point — thank goodness for the multiverse eh?
Most of all, this doesn’t mean Arrow has failed: everything is going to change in Season 5, and it could be that Oliver finally finds the peace and/or the mental balance he’s been seeking.
Or maybe he’ll just finally admit that he’s Batman and put on the cape. Either way.
Which is your favorite version of Green Arrow? Tell us in the comments below!
MP Staff Writer, thinking too much about comic books since 1992. Tweet me your favourite superheroes, @katgngr