All vigilantes go through their own personal journey as they transform from zero to hero. Superman grew from a wholesome farm boy to a wholesome superhero, nerdy Peter Parker eventually married a supermodel, and Wolverine? Well, he's still got issues. But out of all the superheroes out there currently fighting the good fight, Green Arrow has led a crazier life than most.
As the central protagonist of CW's Arrow, Oliver Queen has come a long way since his playboy millionaire days. After his boat crashed at sea, marooning him on an island for 5 years (sort of), Green Arrow stopped taking out women and started to take out the scum of Star City instead.
While Oliver Queen has become more merciful over the years, trading in his deadly arsenal for non-lethal projectiles and even the occasional boxing glove arrow, his life hasn't become any less dramatic. From his playboy origins and his murderous phase, right up to his development into the beloved superhero that we know today, Green Arrow has had one crazy ride. Join us as we take a look at the evolution of Green Arrow in both the comics and the CW show!
Bad wigs aside, Oliver Queen's life seemed almost perfect before he became Green Arrow. Who wouldn't want to party all night with beautiful women and spend their family's vast fortune?
Unfortunately though, that lifestyle did little to improve Oliver's insufferable personality. Both his immaturity and sheer selfishness led to a painful love triangle between Oliver and the Lance sisters, which came to a tragic end when Sarah supposedly died at sea while sleeping with Queen, who was dating her sister Laurel at the time.
Think Twilight's central love triangle, but with less shiny vampires and more soap opera dramatics.
For someone who was supposedly marooned on a deserted island for five years, Green Arrow sure got around! Queen travelled everywhere from Hong Kong to Russia while he was 'stranded'.
Fortunately for Oliver, the lack of TV and elitist parties didn't matter too much, as his hands were always full training with the likes of Yao Fei and Amanda Waller. Together, these mentors helped Oliver develop the skills he would need to eventually adopt the Green Arrow mantle and take down as many criminals as possible.
However, out of everyone who had a hand in transforming Oliver from a slutty playboy to the hardened warrior we know today, the man who had the largest impact on his life was Slade Wilson. The man who eventually became known as Deathstroke originally taught Green Arrow how to fight back in the Season 2 flashbacks before turning on Oliver in present-day Star City.
The clash between Green Arrow and Deathstroke came to a head with the tragic death of Oliver's mother at the hands of the vengeful mercenary. No other scene in the history of the show has shaken both the audience and Oliver himself in quite the same way. This harrowing moment changed Oliver irrevocably.
Green Arrow Saves The Justice League And The Universe Too
While Green Arrow took his revenge on Deathstroke in the show by sparing his life, locking him away on the island of Lian Yu, Oliver's comic book counterpart already gave the mercenary his just desserts years before in the comic book Identity Crisis #3.
Things didn't start out well for Green Arrow though; Deathstroke systematically took him and the rest of the Justice League out with ease, strategically overpowering far stronger opponents such as The Flash and Green Lantern through precision and planning.
Just as all hope was lost, Green Arrow jumped back into the fray, stabbing Deathstroke in the eye with one of his broken arrows. By inciting the mercenary's rage, all of Deathstroke's carefully laid-out plans fell apart, enabling the Justice League to finally snag victory from the hands of defeat.
That's not the only time that the Green Arrow has saved his more powerful allies though. In DC's Zero Hour crossover event, Oliver had to shoot Hal Jordan in the heart after his former best friend went mad and almost destroyed the entire universe. (You know, as heroes do from time to time.) Green Arrow's sheer willpower also came into play when Oliver once did what so few have managed: using a Green Lantern ring to take down the insanely powerful villain Sinestro.
Those who call Green Arrow a Robin Hood wannabe know exactly where to stick it.
The CW's version of Green Arrow may not quite be at the same level as his comic book counterpart just yet, but even Season One's incarnation of the Emerald Archer isn't someone you would want to mess with.
Imagine if the cast of Dynasty lived in Star City and fought crime on the side. That's pretty much what the initial set-up of Arrow looked like after Oliver first returned from the island. Fresh off the boat, Oliver struggled to pretend that he was still a mindless playboy embroiled in soap opera antics while he killed criminals on the side.
In theory, Green Arrow saw himself as a more violent Robin Hood. By targeting criminals who harmed the citizens of Star City most, Oliver acted as judge, jury and even executioner when the situation called for it. The problem with such a merciless approach is that it pitted Oliver against both law enforcement and his own conscience, damaging a psyche already suffering from PTSD following his time on the island.
Of course, Oliver couldn't keep up the lone wolf act forever without risking a psychotic break. Gradually, allies such as Diggle and Felicity were welcomed into the fold, forming Team Arrow. However, after his best friend Tommy Merlyn died in the Season 1 finale, Green Arrow decided to honour his memory by adopting a new no-kill policy. This started Ollie out on the path that would eventually lead to him becoming the beloved hero that he is today.
It wasn't an easy road though. At first, Oliver's previous actions led to further confrontations with the law. It wasn't until Season 4 that the Emerald Archer finally added the word 'Green' to his codename, after his previous 'Arrow' identity was tarnished beyond repair in the public eye.
Oh, and let's not forget that time Oliver retired as Green Arrow completely after he survived a duel with Ra's al Ghul, who briefly enlisted him to lead the League of Assassins in his place. Just your standard mid-life crisis.
Mayor Of Star City
Since Green Arrow became a symbol of hope for the citizens of Star City in Season 4, Oliver decided to defend his home on a second front too, campaigning to become Mayor. At first, Oliver chose to retire from the race following complications with the villainous Damien Darhk and his wife's role in the opposition. But in the Arrow Season 4 finale, Green Arrow finally took over as Mayor of Star City.
In theory, it's admirable that Oliver strives to clean up his city both by day and by night, but there's just one problem. He's a terrible Mayor. Actor Stephen Amell told Zap2it that;
Let's hope things start to improve for Star City's new Mayor. One day, we may even see Green Arrow tackle some of the social justice issues that he and Green Lantern regularly tackling during their groundbreaking comic book run in the '70s. Drugs, pollution and racism were just a few of the wrongs that Green Arrow set out to address in this now-iconic run that still influences writers today.
While Green Arrow's future on the CW isn't set in stone, one particular Legends of Tomorrow episode gave us a dark glimpse into what could be in store for Oliver if he doesn't keep his friends close.
In 'Star City 2046', it's revealed that Deathstroke's son, Grant Wilson, took over the city 15 years before, killing everyone who stood in his way. Upon their arrival, the Legends team discover 61-year-old Oliver, who retired after his friends were all murdered defending Star City. Despite losing one of his arms, the Emerald Archer still manages to play a pivotal role in the inevitable showdown that occurs once he rejoins the fight alongside Rip Hunter's team.
The episode is notable for introducing viewers to the idea of a one-armed Green Arrow. One-armed Oliver made a memorable appearance in the comic book The Dark Knight Returns, which in turn inspired Zack Snyder's slugfest, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.
It's hard to imagine a balding Green Arrow doing what Lex Luthor never could — taking down Superman himself — but the Emerald Archer did just that, and with only one arm to boot. While hanging upside down. Using his teeth. And a Kryptonite arrow. This impressive feat will forever guarantee Oliver Queen a place in the comic book hall of fame.
Here's Oliver setting up his shot in an animated adaptation of The Dark Knight Returns:
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Despite possessing no powers and suffering endless comparisons to both Robin Hood and Marvel's Hawkeye, Green Arrow is ultimately one of the most important characters in both DC comics and TV. As the CW's flagship show enters its fifth season, Oliver Queen will continue to grow and evolve as a pivotal character, reminding us once again why the Green Arrow deserves a place in the DCEU too.
Fan art via Austin the Freak