I can see why The CW was so excited for this show, because it's basically Batman: Year One with the rich white people relationship drama of Gossip Girl. You know how once in a while, a Batman comic will alude to Bruce Wayne pretends to be a shallow playboy at a party once in a while? Well, Oliver Queen's entire life pre-island crash and current avenging was partying, so now that's he's returned, he has to keep up that allusion. I wouldn't have thought I would have dug that, but I think it worked, and I think it worked because this is where they packed in the comic references.
Obviously, Dinah Laurel Lance is Ollie's pre-crash girlfriend (who Ollie was cheating on with her sister when his ship sank [she died. Drama!] and currently Legal Aid lawyer (like Ms. Robot, actually). His best friend's last name is Merlyn, and there's indications of some drama there. My favorite bit was the reveal that Ollie's little sister's nickname as a kid was Speedy, and now that's she's older she takes drugs. They kept Speedy, not as a sidekick, but as a drug addict! What a great implementation of the character.
I'm hesitant to call it the best superhero series ever, because we all know what happened to Heroes, but it was a very strong start and I had only two little nitpicks with it: 1) Ollie is really, really dour -- like, Batman-level dour -- when he's by himself. It's fine, and I get why they choose to do it this way (to contrast with Ollie's fake party-bro persona) but Stephen Amell does the party scenes really well, so it's kind of a shame he can't have a little more fun as Arrow. 2) The other problem was Laurel's scenes at Legal Aid. I know they're trying to establish her character, but it seems like their shoehorning a little Single Female Lawyer in there, and it's just not close to as interesting as anything else going on in the show. Hopefully that either picks up or disappears. I'd be fine with the latter.
A few random thoughts:
• Did Ollie ever have an evil mom in the comics? I have no idea, but I like the character either way.
• Green Arrow's arrows instantly knock bad guys out, but do not kill them. I'd say they count as "trick" arrows, but I wonder if the show will ever bother to explain 'em.
• Seriously, I'm shocked at how well they brought in Speedy.
• I feel like Stephen Amell watched Chris Hemsworth's and Chris Evans' shirtless scenes in Thor and Captain America and said "I can do that." Dude is BUILT.
• If the Deathstroke mask at the very beginning doesn't get explained, I reserve the right to take back everything nice I said about Arrow.
• What did you guys think?