Arrow: End of an Era
By the time 2012 rolled around it was crystal clear that Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy had completely changed the way superhero movies were done. At the CW, executives wanted in on the gritty realistic superhero game, but with Batman already taken who would they make the protagonist? The candidate arose in the form of DC’s Emerald Archer himself Green Arrow. In his earliest adventures Green Arrow was often treated as a poor man’s Batman, and thanks to Smallville the character was more well known now among the general audience. Comic veteran Marc Guggenheim, Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg were placed at the helm as showrunners and Stephen Amell would be the one to bring Oliver Queen to life in the show Arrow. Over the course of 8 seasons the show would become a huge favorite in fandom making Amell a star and giving CW a hit. It provided to template for how to move forward with shows based on DC Comics properties as: the Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, and Black Lightning either spun-off from or share producers with Arrow with more shows on the way. Fittingly this televised superhero universe has been dubbed the “Arrowverse”. Now after eight years on the air Oliver Queen has laid down his bow and this series has given it’s audience a satisfying conclusion. With the show wrapping things up it is appropriate to look back at Arrow.
Taking major inspiration from the acclaimed Green Arrow: Year One by Andy Diggle and Jock, we first meet Oliver Queen after years of his being stranded on an island. Upon his return to civilization and reuniting with his friends and family, he tries to keep up the appearance he held before. But secretly he begins to dawn a green hood and arms himself with a bow and arrow to take his vengeance out on those who have “failed this city”. Thanks to flashbacks to the island when see the story of how a spoiled rich kid became a hardened vigilante. Early in his adventures, Oliver is joined by his bodyguard Diggle who influences the angry young hero for the better ultimately turning him into the superhero he would become. Of course in our tech-based era they would need help on the technology front of the mission and turned to the quirky IT expert Felicity Smoak. Naturally with this being the CW the superheroics were balanced out by Oliver dealing with interpersonal relationships. He had to rebuild his relationship with his sister, while he and his best friend Tommy Merlyn and ex-girlfriend Laurel Lance entered into a love triangle. Throughout everything the mysterious Black Archer, who would be revealed as Tommy’s father Malcolm Merlyn, lurked in the shadows as a threat to be dealt with.
Arrow found success with comic fans and mainstream audiences alike. Seeing fan favorite DC Comics characters and elements grounded in a realistic setting proved to be a thrill for many. The Royal Flush Gang became a group of thieves who adorned their helmets with playing card designs. Count Vertigo became “the Count” a prominent drug dealer in Starling City. Green Arrow’s least theatrical enemy from the comics, Eddie Fryers proved to be a natural fit for the show as the villain in the flashback story thread.
Naturally a second season was green-lit and many see this as the show’s best. Not only did it introduce more characters from the DC Universe like the Flash (who would spin-off in his own show), but the overall stakes for the season were much higher. Oliver’s old ally from the island, Slade Wilson AKA Deathstroke rolled into Starling City with his own allies to bring trouble to the Green Arrow. But for a man who started out as a brooding loner, Oliver began to recruit others to his mission to save the city. While the supporting cast was constantly rotating, he still maintained a solid supporting group of heroes. There were new takes on familiar Green Arrow allies from the comics like: Speedy and Black Canary; but also other DC characters like: the Atom and Mister Terrific. In a nice bit of synergy, the two supporting characters created for the show in Diggle and Felicity (well this version of the Felicity character anyway) found their way into the Green Arrow comics.
As with just about any show which has come about in the age of social media, there has been plenty which turned fans off. When Felicity was introduced to the show as a recurring character, it became noticed that actress Emily Bett Rickards and Stephen Amell had a natural chemistry. This meant the historic coupling of Green Arrow and Black Canary which was seemingly planned was sacrificed to the altar of what was dubbed the “Olicity” pairing to the chagrin of many comic fans. Felicity herself evolved from a fun, quirky and believable tech expert into a full on deus ex machine plot element. She went from hacking into villain’s computers to hacking into nuclear warheads. Those behind the show seemed to struggle with the tone of the show from season to season. While started as a show based in reality they began to pump more traditional superhero-y elements into it before trending back to the grounded feel. Oliver Queen went from inheritor of his family’s company to losing everything to being mayor to being a family man.
As the series came to an end it seemed fitting it do so as the heroes across the Arrowverse faced their greatest challenge in the ambitious adaptation of Crisis on Infinite Earths. In the opening episode of the crossover; Green Arrow joined his allies: the Flash, Supergirl, Batwoman, White Canary, and Superman in defending the multiverse from the Anti-Monitor and gave his life trying to save as many people as he could. In death, Oliver Queen would become the host for the supernatural being the Spectre and would use his newfound status to not only help defeat the threat they faced but also bring rebirth to the world. Meaning now the Arrowverse all takes place in a world which exists thanks to him. Once the Crisis wrapped the final episode of Arrow was devoted to those he left behind as they mourned his death but also honored the legacy of one of TV’s greatest superheroes.