It’s a good time to be a comic book nerd and a fan of TV. With Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Arrow, and The Walking Dead thriving on the small screen, there’s plenty for you to choose from for live action weekly superheroics. Amazingly, three of the biggest comic publishers (Marvel, DC, and Image) are being represented on the small screen right now . While I actively watch all three of these shows, there’s one that stands out as the best to me: CW’s Arrow, the updated, salmon ladder obsessed take on DC Comics’ Green Arrow.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Arrow? The show that featured its entire male cast shirtless for its season two promotional ads?” To which I say “look at that those abs!” and “yes”.
For my money, Arrow is the closest we have to an actual living, breathing comic book world on TV. The Walking Dead is an unstoppable ratings juggernaut, but suffers from the same narrative peaks and valleys that the comic falls victim to. For every two good episodes, there’s one that just makes me want to slam my head into a wall. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is still finding its footing, and for the most part I’ve found myself wanting to like it more than i do. I’m not eagerly anticipating the next episode, unlike CW’s Emerald Archer.
With the premiere of season two, the Arrow showrunners no longer feel the need to shun the more comic booky aspects of the character. Trick arrows? They’re there, and done in such an awesome way that I’m mad they weren’t done before. The showrunners have instituted a new “No Killing” code for Oliver Queen: no longer believing in his personal quest for vengeance, Oliver now understands that he must become a symbol of hope for the people of his city. Unfortunately, there are copycat Arrows popping up all over the place, causing the Starling City police to hunt down the vigilante.
Does this sound like the producers are copying and pasting from The Dark Knight? Yep. Does it work? Hell yes it does.
The similarities between Batman and Green Arrow have always been there, from the “Arrowcave” to Queen Industries supplying Oliver Queen with his vast fortune. It makes complete sense for Arrow to poach from WB’s biggest franchise, and it’s the perfect approach to the character. Oliver Queen’s origin and return to Starling City has been given the “Nolan” real world spin, but that doesn’t mean that the show has shied away from some of the more outlandish aspects of the DC universe. Unlike Nolan’s trilogy, Arrow has started to slowly embrace the comic book roots of the character and his universe, from the inclusion of Black Canary to Queen SHOOTING AN ARROW AT A GRENADE MID THROW.
Arrow didn’t start off as a winner though. Much like what S.H.I.E.L.D. is going through now, Arrow took a few episodes to figure out what kind of show it wanted to be: Should it be The Dark Knight on a TV budget, or a straight up soap drama? Beefcake show for teenage girls, or gritty revenge series?
After a phenomenal pilot episode, it quickly fell into the trap of the “villain of the week” format, and got caught up in the soap opera dramatics of Oliver Queen’s return to Starling City. So, a typical CW drama where “pretty people have pretty problems”.
But then around the mid season finale, Arrow started to turn around. With the addition of the “Dark Archer” (aka Malcom Merlyn, Tommy’s dad), played by John Barrowman, the show started to embrace its comic book roots, introducing Deathstroke (with a twist), and incorporating other characters like Huntress into the show. From there, it continued to build momentum to the great cliffhanger season finale, which featured a phenomenal battle between Queen and the Archer that culminates in a bomb destroying “The Glades”(think of “The Narrows” in Gotham City) and kills Oliver’s best friend, Tommy Merlyn.
The fallout of that finale has been the driving force of this season. Oliver abandoned the city, returning to the island where he honed his archery skills. After being coerced back by his partners Diggle and Felicity, Oliver starts evolving as hero. He no longer wants to be called “The Hood”, opting instead for something new (as he looks at his green arrowhead). Even the island flashbacks are starting to get more and more interesting, and the fact that it allows for more Slade Wilson (played by the awesome Manu Bennett) only sweetens the deal.
There have been a ton of fantastic surprises this season already, and I won’t spoil them here. However, I will say that one took by surprise so much that I actually screamed at my TV. The producers have already announced that the Flash will have his origin episode this season, and will hopefully be spun off into his own series. If WB is smart, they’ll incorporate Arrow into their plans for a Justice League film and shared DC film universe (and surprise, surprise, they’ve said they won’t). It would be one less character that they would have to explain, and could work as a reverse S.H.I.E.L.D. if they played their cards right. For now though, I’ll settle with the continuing exploits of Oliver Queen, and keeping a keen eye on any potential crossovers or appearances that could come our way.