In 2012 Arrow arrived, and it wowed fans with its complex storyline and character dynamics. But there was one problem that became more evident (and troublesome) for fans with every passing season: Oliver Queen was, by all intents and purposes, a lighter version of Batman. He's brooding, rich and completely focused on cleaning up his city from corporate corruption and larger-than-life baddies.
Many non-comic book readers are probably unaware of this, but #GreenArrow is one of the most unique comic book characters out there. Sadly, Arrow's version of the archer stripped him of his unique traits which, slowly but surely, turned him into the average Batman-type superhero. Fortunately things may be about to change.
Stephen Amell Just Figured Out How To Make Green Arrow Different From Batman
Speaking at the Portland Heroes & Villains Fan Fest, #StephenAmell touched on the potential and his excitement of taking Oliver on a completely different path for Season 6 and onward. Essentially, take away the broodiness, and other tired comic book elements, and actually take advantage of his original comic book roots:
"I've said that [...] if Oliver doesn’t take away lessons from Season 5 and doesn’t keep doing the things that have led to this catastrophic event, the character stops being interesting to me. So I hope that part of that, in Season 6 and if we have seasons beyond that [...] is we get back to a lot of the tenets that people recognize from the comics. And that of course is humor and a socially conscious, slightly liberal superhero. The comics version, he has some really interesting qualities that make him unique, and I hope we get to explore more of those."
God bless that brutal honesty, because Amell makes a great point. As mentioned, he provided the series with the best way to escape its #Batman reputation:
Green Arrow Is One Of The Most Unique Superheroes Out There, And The Show Needs To Use That
We know who superheroes are and we know what they do. Spider-Man fights a guy dressed as a Goblin with delusions of grandeur, Batman stops Joker from burning down Gotham every other Tuesday, etc. But if we think about it, those confrontations never tackle the brutal reality people face. Superman beating up Brainiac –– while saving the planet from annihilation –– won't feed the people starving on the street, or stop them from being abused and marginalized by other humans.
Oliver Queen is well aware of that situation; he knows that one crooked guy in jail, or one trapped would-be conqueror won't make a difference where it matters. That's the magic of the character, he gets his hands dirty by focusing on tackling real problems like racism, intolerance and poverty head-on, instead of going after a costumed bad guy.
I'm a big fan of Neal Adams and Dennis O'Neal's Green Lantern/Green Arrow run, and there are two very powerful moments in the first issue that perfectly demonstrate Oliver Queen's uniqueness. The first one comes at the very beginning when #GreenLantern was flying by a street when he saw a man in a suit being pushed around by a guy with a scruffy appearance.
Hal wrapped the young man in a bubble and sent him to jail, but people started throwing garbage at him. Not understanding what was happening, Hal called them animals and started fighting back, and #OliverQueen intervened.
Oliver took Hal around the building that the man in the suit had just exited, and showed him an old lady: She was the grandmother of the man he had thrown in jail, and she would no longer be able to sustain herself, since her grandson was the one who provided for her.
Arrow then dropped another harsh truth: The man he saved from the troublemaker was the building's owner. He was planning on demolishing it to make a parking lot, leaving all the people in it without a home. Jordan stated that was a tough situation for the young man, but he had nonetheless broken the law. Oliver explained:
"Technically he was... sure. He lost his temper and roughed up the cat landlord who owns this dump. –– The creep who hadn't spent a cent in repairs for years. Now he figures he can earn more money using the property for a parking lot. So he's going to evict the tenants [...] Listen, I hope you enjoyed playing superhero out there... I hope it did a lot of good for your ego."
Following that exchange, an African-American man approached GL and asked him why was he favoring saving people from space, while dismissing the underrepresented individuals in his own planet:
"I been readin' about you... How you work for the blue skins... and how on a planet someplace you helped out the orange skins... And you done considerable for the purple skins! Only there's skins you never bothered with... The black skins. I want to know... how come?!"
Jordan was left speechless by the question. Those moments were the perfect display of the dichotomy between two superheroes. On one hand, you have Green Lantern, a guy who sees everything in black and white, and thinks fighting off aliens is enough to make everything right in the world. He serves as the story's representation of the average do-gooder.
Then there's Ollie. He's fully aware of the struggles people have to go through every day to survive and understands the nuance of someone in such a desperate situation. He understands that people may need to break a law from time to time to survive. Those nuances are the elements #Arrow needs to take advantage of.
The showrunners need to step away from presenting Oliver as your average, tortured male alpha who can kick a lot of villainous butt, but remains oblivious to what actually matters. The show has a source material to take advantage of and differentiate itself from the countless #comicbook adaptations already out there or on the way –– especially from Batman.
How amazing and fresh would it be to see Oliver step away from the overarching season villains to take on a racist gang or greedy landlords? The show has a lot of missed potential, and Amell just offered a great way to pick it back up. Hopefully his comments will encourage the creative minds behind it to shake things up.
Arrow will return for its sixth season on October 12, 2017.
What do you think about this? Where would you like to see Arrow take Oliver Queen for Season 6 and onward? Let me know in the comments!