Arrow has been in a dry spell lately. After two very successful seasons, the third and fourth ones haven't been as well-received due to their storylines straying away from the world that was set up in Season 1. Because of the backlash, producer for the show, Wendy Mericle, talked about them getting back to basics for the fifth season, which premieres this year:
“There will be more standalone episodes this season. We are looking to go deeper into the bench of villains from the DC universe. Again, go back to our roots, more Season 1.”
A new trailer for Arrow Season 5 dropped and surprisingly, it does establish the show's return to a grittier, more realistic type of storytelling. Check it out:
Possibly the most surprising thing in this trailer is Oliver Queen killing his enemies once again. I'm going to disagree with Thea Queen here: This, believe it or not, is a good thing for both the future of the show and the character.
Oliver Returning To His Murderous Roots Sets Him Apart From Other Superheroes
One of Arrow's most original aspects when it started was having a superhero who didn't have a hard moral code and had no trouble killing his enemies. This facet disappeared at the beginning of Season 2 due to Oliver Queen wanting to honor his best friend, Tommy Merlyn, who died tragically. While it could be argued that this makes Oliver a better person, in reality makes him a carbon copy of other countless heroes who are unwilling to cross that line and actually end a life, even if a villainous one.
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Killing is so uncommon for a superhero that the few characters who do cross the line (like The Punisher, Deadpool or even Lobo) are considered "extremists" or "insane." At the very least "dangerous" antiheroes. What keeps Oliver Queen off that list is that he is driven to make his city a better place. That is his driving motive; he's not looking for symbolic revenge or because he is mentally unstable.
Oliver lives in a world where he knows criminals will just come back time and time again. So when does he stop doing a good thing by respecting someone's life and start to threaten the safety of others by keeping alive extremely dangerous criminals who will eventually come back?
We've seen the "respectful do-gooder" dynamic on superhero TV and movies time and time again. Giving Green Arrow the willingness to kill would introduce a refreshing dynamic and give Oliver Queen a natural evolution of his character: He's an individual who suffered with the Russian mob, an island full of threats, and terrorist organizations. He was hardened by those experiences and it's much more interesting to have a character who kills because that is what his nature has grown to be rather than someone who refuses to kill no matter what (despite that being the way he was taught) because he wants to honor his friend.
How It Benefits The Future Of The Show
Arrow gave us a damaged Green Arrow that had gone through hell for the last five years of his life and had come back to make his city a better place. However, once Seasons 3 and 4 arrived, the addition of other superheroes like The Flash, The Atom, Hawkgirl, etc., and the heavy inclusion of Olicity seemed to change the show and lose its essence of a hardened vigilante. Some viewers have poked fun at it, calling it "Batman lite," but that's exactly why they watched.
Arrow has a five-year plan to bring Oliver's stories from his days on the island and in present day full circle. But, as with any successful show, the showrunners hoped the series would be strong enough to go further than five years, especially with an entire DCTV universe now on the table. The way it has been going so far, however, makes that prospect very unlikely. Arrow is now too similar to other superheroes and him killing once more is a way to bring freshness to a show that is teetering on the edge of implosion.
I remember all they way back in 2012, when I was watching Arrow's very first episode, how surprised I was at the show for being willing to take the main hero and give him a different quality than other superheroes, one that was far less noble and morally righteous. Returning to those bloodier origins would reinvent the series in a way that will keep people's interest in it, especially those who are used to seeing the same morals in different superhero costumes.
Hopefully, The Reintroduction Of This Aspect Means 'Arrow' Will Go Back To Its Darker Roots
Arrow has a lot of promise and can still return to the path of success it started on. One of the first steps taken to achieve this was giving Oliver back his more merciless nature. Yes, I know the comic book version of Green Arrow doesn't kill (often) but that is not the Oliver Queen that was established for the DCTV version. It's an original aspect for modern superhero adaptations, full of heroes that are unwilling to kill.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I want every single superhero to go Punisher. What I mean is that we need diversity when it comes to superheroes' nature and thankfully, Oliver Queen was already established as a different character from the rest and I am glad they are taking him back to that place. Hopefully, his return to his darker roots signifies better days for Arrow.