Thursday, October 11, 2012

Arrow Hits a Bulls-Eye

Last night, months and months of my anticipation culminated with the premiere of CW’s new television show, Arrow.  For those of you that don’t know, Arrow is based, albeit slightly loosely, on the DC comic book character Oliver Queen, aka Green Arrow.

It is hard not to compare the show with CWs last foray into the DC comic book world, Smallville.  Not only is it a show based on a popular comic book character from the same comic universe, but also it is telling the story of a character that was portrayed on Smallville itself. But that is pretty much where the comparison begins and ends.  This is absolutely not a spin off and absolutely not the same character that Justin Hartley played on the popular Superman drama.

Oliver Queen/Green Arrow himself is played by Canadian actor Stephen Amell in his first starring role in a television series. For several years Amell has been playing guest spots in various series such as Flashpoint, CSI, NCIS, The Vampire Diaries, and Private Practice. None of which I have ever bothered to watch which means I really had no basis for comparison to tell whether or not he is a decent actor or not. In Arrow however, he plays the back from the dead arrogant playboy millionaire very well.

The show begins as he is being rescued from an unknown island where he has been stranded for 5 years following a shipwreck that caused the death of his father and his girlfriend. Actually it was his girlfriend’s sister which is another story all together.

I have to admit that after I finished watching it I was a little disappointed in a lot of the liberties they took with the comic book Oliver Queen/Green Arrow.  First of all, the obvious one is that the show is not called Green Arrow. Just Arrow. Secondly, Green Arrow’s stomping grounds is changed from Star City to Starling City. What was the point of that? Is it really helping the dramatic effect by changing the name of his home town?  Thirdly, the character Dinah Lance, who we all know (okay, all of us comic book geeks anyway) is the Black Canary does not seem like the type of girl that would ever become of one Green Arrow’s greatest partners. She isn’t even blond. Finally, I take issue with the situation with his parents. In the comics, both of his parents are dead. They both died while out on some sort of safari. In this television show, however, his father kills himself in the same lifeboat that Oliver is on following their shipwreck, presumably to allow his son a larger share of the remaining provisions to keep him alive. And when he returns home, his mother is alive and re-married.  I’m not sure what the writers’ thought process was in completely changing the back story regarding his parents but I’m not sure I like it.
It does, however, give the show a Hamlet-y feel to it.     

Nevertheless, the story is really good. Regrettably, it does not dive too deep into his origins. That is, it didn’t really tell the story of how he got from a rich snotty kid to a bad ass fighter that is an expert marksman with a bow and arrow. However, from watching the show I can tell that this story will be told over the course of the series due to the frequent flashbacks that occurred during the show. Aside from the lack of an origin story up front, the story was written well. It digs into his motivation for donning a green hood and attacking criminals very well. It is the story of a young man that is trying to atone not only for his past sins, but apparently his father’s as well. There is an interesting back story that seems to be forming due to later as well so it should be interesting to see how that unfolds.

Other than the story, the great thing about this show and another thing that separates it from Smallville is that this show is darker and edgier than Smallville. Even darker and edgier than the later seasons of Smallville had gotten.  It’s almost like the creators and writers have a feel for what made the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy such a success.  There is a great advantage to doing a show about a character like Green Arrow over doing a show about a character like Superman. Don’t get me wrong, Smallville was a great show and they did it very well. They must have, it lasted 10 seasons. Anyway, the advantage it has is that Green Arrow does not have any super powers so the show can completely eliminate any hint of a cheese factor and be almost completely rooted in reality.

There are a couple of other character placements that pop up in the show too that are definitely good nods to the geeks. For instance, the sister of Oliver Queen has a best friend named Mia Dearden. During one scene Oliver refers to her as Speedy. For those of you that aren’t as big a geek as me or most of my friends, Speedy was the name of 2 of Green Arrow’s side-kicks for many many years and Mia was the 2nd one.  The only character that pops up is even more obscure than Speedy. That character is Constantine Drakon. Drakon, of course, was one of Green Arrow’s villains. In the show, he is the head of security for the show’s main antagonist.

As I said earlier, I have to admit that immediately watching it I was a bit disappointing, having felt slighted by all of the changes that they made to the Green Arrow mythos. But after I had more time to think about it, most of the changes are petty and they don’t completely destroy the history of one of my favorite comic book character so I think I can get over those changes because at the end of the day, it is a really cool interpretation of the Green Arrow character.

When it is all said I done, I did enjoy the show and I am looking forward to watching more of it.


  1. I really enjoyed Arrow. Like you my biggest beef with it is that fact that it is not called Green Arrow. Other than that, I think they did a really good job at getting to the heart of the character Oliver Queen. The changes in the story and background of Queen (like the death of his parents) didn't bother me that much and I wonder if it is closer to Green Arrow's origin in the New 52.

    I am a big fan of the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths, pre-New 52 Green Arrow and wasn't at all impressed with the changes to the character with last year's reboot. I really think a lot of what made Oliver Queen such a great character was lost and don't even get me started on Roy Harper (aka the original Speedy/Arsenal/Red Arrow).

    I'm looking forward to seeing where they go with Arrow. The casting for Oliver Queen was great, the show looks fantastic, and the writing/directing/acting is all top notch. This should be a great ride.

  2. Absolutely. I've gotten over the changes they made with his family and I'm actually not sure how close it is to his origin in the New 52 storyline. Admittedly, I have not been extremely impressed with the writing for Green Arrow in the New 52 and stopped reading it after about issue #7. By that point, they had not gotten into his family. Not that I can remember anyway.

    I agree that the show is going to be fun to watch and interesting to see how the origin and the various sub-plots unfold over the course of the season.

    The more I think about it however, I think they probably could have done a better job of casting Oliver Queen. Granted, the guy they have is a good choice overall and he is doing a great job but there is just something about him that doesn't say Oliver Queen to me. I can't place my finger on it though.

  3. He doesn't look the way that Oliver Queen looked pre-New 52, but he does look like the New 52 version. Maybe that's it.

  4. That could be it. I have to admit that I am a bigger fan of pre-New 52 Green Arrow than the current one. It really all comes down to the writing I think. They just didn't pick a good writing team for the Green Arrow comic. Just take a look at the way Geoff Johns writes his character in the Justice League comic. It is much more suited to what I think Green Arrow should be. Give the character to a good writer like Geoff Johns and you've got a good story. Give it to somebody just because you need to give the story to someone and it doesn't turn out near as well.

  5. I wish Geoff Johns was writing Green Arrow. Heck I wish he wrote all of the DC titles. They should have had Brad Meltzer or Kevin Smith write the reboot.

  6. Kevin Smith writing the re-boot would have been a great choice!