8 Reasons Why Arrow is Superior to Smallville

By Matthew Nando Kelly in Comics, Daily Lists, TV
Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 6:00 am

4. Arrow is Filled With Comic Book Cameos

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Smallville was about Superman, sure, but we all know that any hero is only as good as his villains. Batman has the Joker. Spider-Man has Dr. Octopus. The Red M&M has all those attractive women in the commercials. Who did Superman have in Smallville? Because Lex spent the beginning of the series as an ally to Clark, he wasn't part of the rogues gallery yet. For some reason, Smallville felt that it had to save almost all of the recognizable villains (Metallo, Brainiac, Doomsday, Darkseid, Bizarro) for the last few seasons. What we got instead was Clark fighting a new meteor freak each week but it felt like a missed opportunity. Why didn't Smallville use those nameless characters to introduce us to some lesser known comic book villains? It would have been easy. Instead all we got was The Coach That Set Fires and Bug-Boy.

Arrow does not mess around when it comes to keeping the books in the show. Every villain is some player in the DC Comics. Recently, Oliver faced off against his bodyguard's commanding officer from Afghanistan. He happened to be named Ted Gaynor and shared that name with a very unimportant member of a group of pilots from DC comic's pilot team called the Blackhawks. Did it matter in the episode? No. Was it fun to look up Ted Gaynor? A little. The point is that they are making an effort to include comic characters and this is true of almost everybody on the show. Walter Steele is the man who took Queen Industries over after Green Arrow goes missing in the comics. Felicity Smoake is a woman that Firestorm sexually assaulted in the comics. Oliver's bodyguard, Diggle, is named after the writer of the DC Comics series Green Arrow: Year One, which Arrow is based on. That's deep.

The best example of the Arrow writing staff caring about the comics is how they handled Oliver's sister. Her name is Thea Queen. She doesn't appear in the comics at all. Oliver does nickname her "Speedy", who most of us know is the Green Arrow's apprentice. We found that out in the first episode and it was pretty cute. It got much better when it turned out Thea just happened to also be involved in some hard core rich-kid drug use. All she was doing was a weird vertigo inducing drug, which sounds like the dumbest drug ever, but she got found out anyway. It was similar to the DC Comics story Snowbirds Don't Fly, where Arrow and Green Lantern learn that Speedy is a drug addict and help him through his recovery. It proved to be a big moment in comics and hopefully has the same impact in Arrow. If nothing else, I want Thea cracked out on heroin petting a dead cat.

3. The Green Arrow is Morally Ambiguous

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Earlier in the article, the point was made that revenge is cool. Everyone knows that. But you know what's even cooler than revenge? A billion dollars. Oliver is spending lots of his time getting revenge on corporate criminals because crime in the banking industry is a big issue today. If the government can't even incarcerate someone from a bank that laundered money for terrorists and drug cartels, what is any man supposed to do? Is it okay to rob a bank when your livelihood was stolen? At what point do you abandon your morals and just try to survive? The Green Arrow is known for this kind of thing. In the Cry For Justice comic storyline, (SPOILER) Oliver just straight up murdered Prometheus because Prometheus bombed Star City. That puts him a few steps up the ladder from Dexter and that's a good thing.

All these questions about survival and justice are far deeper than anything Superman deals with. While Superman whines "Will I fit in with the people I'm protecting?" Green Arrow doesn't have time for that because he just got thrown off of a waterfall. "What if I have too much power?" sounds like a first world problem compared to "I just got shot. I might die." Superman having unlimited powers gives him the option to be a boy scout. Green Arrow doesn't have that choice. He has to make difficult decisions and the right answer is not even always clear to the audience. In one episode he kills guys. In the next, he's mad at other people for doing it. It isn't inconsistent writing. It's moral ambiguity. He also sleeps with girls besides his girlfriend of destiny, Laurel Lance, and that is only going to get better as the season progresses and he meets more than two different girls.

2. Superman is Boring

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I am not a fan of Superman's. Maybe it's because in my lifetime (mid-twenties) nothing interesting has been done with him except a horrible death in comic books and a very long movie about how he is Jesus. Don't get me wrong. I respect Superman. He was the first superhero and he paved the way for countless others. He was the Jackie Robinson of superheroes in a time when comics were just mysteries and westerns but there is a reason Jackie Robinson isn't playing baseball today. He is too old...or he would be if he were still alive. He would be out of touch with the game today. These days the cool heroes are the ones without invulnerability. They are the Batmans and the Iron Men. They are complicated figures. Superman was a cool character when all you had to do to impress people was pick a car up over your head but these days almost everybody can do that. Superman has to bring something new to the table.

Look at Superman Returns. They couldn't make Superman relatable without giving him a son we didn't know about. That's not a good sign. It's how you know a character is getting stale and the writers are getting desperate. John McClane gets one in his fifth movie. Indy got one in his fourth and I think we can all agree that Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was responsible for breathing new life into the franchise in kind of the same way that a tornado breathes new life into a trailer park. Speaking of tornadoes, in the Superman Returns video game, you fight one. It's the final boss. Of the whole game. You fight it with your super-breath. It illustrates a great point about Superman: He blows.

The cartoons proved that the only thing that can make Superman interesting is by surrounding hmi with the Justice League, and they're better off without him, so why not just take the leader of the Smallville Justice League and give him a show? And it's going great and we owe Superman a huge favor. He is the ugly girl that the pretty girls bring with them to the bar to look prettier except in this scenario "pretty" is stand in for "interesting". Superman is so uninteresting he made an Aquaman pilot look interesting. Check it out. It's pretty much what you expect.

1. Arrow is Moving Incredibly Fast

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If Arrow were a girl, she would tell you she loves you on the first date. I know what you're thinking. That's pretty creepy. She's like that girl from that meme, right? She's the Overly Attached Girlfriend. Well think of it this way. What if the girl looked like Scarlett Johansson? That's not such a big problem anymore, is it? The point is that if a girl is the right girl, you can't move fast enough and Arrow is the right girl.

Based on the other seven reasons, Arrow is a great show but what makes it an awesome show is that it isn't taking it too slow. How long did it take for Clark to put the damn suit on? Ten seasons. How long did it take for Oliver to put his suit on? Ten minutes. It was in the pilot. The fifth episode was about Oliver getting arrested and thrown in jail under suspicion of being the Hood so that he could have someone else be the Hood to "prove" it wasn't Oliver. That was the FIFTH EPISODE! Batman didn't do anything like that in seven full-length movies. And I'm not saying that Arrow is better than all of the Batman movies. Maybe better than two. That's still pretty impressive.

Moving fast is exciting because Smallville lasted for ten seasons and Clark barely became Superman by the end. Based on where Arrow started and the pace it's moving at, the possibilities are endless. Maybe we will get more heroes that fit the show. Obviously a real Speedy and a Black Canary are coming soon but I wouldn't be surprised if we see The Question, Cyborg, or maybe a poweless Booster Gold in the next season. Hell why not throw in a powered-down Justice Leaguer? Green Arrow and Green Lantern are friends. Maybe he could show up. We probably won't get a Batman but what's stopping us from getting Nightwing? Arrow is a fast moving superhero show with an interesting main character and colorful supporting characters. What more could you want?

So just give it a chance. Watch one episode. You won't be disappointed...unless the episode features the Huntress. She's kind of dumb. Everything else though, damn good television.

Arrow airs on the CW channel Wednesdays at 8.

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