Arrow is probably my favorite show on TV right now. I watch it semi-religiously and constantly think about possible permutations of the Arrow-verse. Do all of the references to Bludhaven mean Nightwing is on the way? Did Nyssa steal Sara’s body and drop her off in a Lazarus Pit offscreen? Is the Atom going to shrink or is he really just a reskinned Ted Kord? Does Arsenal secretly have a drug habit? These are burning questions about a great show, but for all of that one thing consistently bothers me: basically, the show thinks Ollie is Batman. This isn’t the worst thing in the world since Batman is awesome and it gave us the Huntress arc, which is probably my favorite arc in the whole show, but it does nag at me a little.
1. He Has No Romantic Life
I miss womanizing Ollie, even though he isn’t necessarily the only version of the character since some Ollies are devoted to Black Canary. The show seemed to initially seize upon romantic Ollie, though, since he was constantly getting involved with Laurel, Huntress (again, a blatant steal from Batman), Sara, Shado, and even (sorta) Felicity. In recent seasons, however, things have passed on to Ollie brooding and constantly being separated from relationships by his responsibilities as Arrow. This honestly strikes me as more Christopher Nolan Batman than Green Arrow. It’s also a trope, and sort of a mopey one, which makes it a mope-a-trope.
On one hand, the mope-a-tropes sort of define the show and Stephen Amell is really good at conveying the terrible weight of herodom. On the other hand, I think of Green Arrow as more of a happy, laughing type than a staring off in the distance brooder. Again, here we have a Batman-ism being used to move the story along. Ollie has never struck me as someone who punishes himself compulsively as part of the crime-fighting process and who inspires others with sheer endurance. They pull off all that gravitas pretty well, but sometimes it just seems too heavy for a guy based on Robin Hood. We know the same team can tell fun stories over on The Flash; when can we see some of that on this side?
2. His Girlfriend Is in the League of Assassins
This is maybe the most obvious steal from Batman lore. As some of you probably know, Batman fell into a mutually affectionate relationship with smoking hot, catsuit-wearing assassin Talia (as you do). They had a son, which was mostly an after-credits reveal and a footnote into Batman’s long and strange history. That is, until Grant Morrison had one of his crazy ideas and re-introduced the son, oh-so-subtly named Damian, as a psychotic Robin. This went on and on until he died, but then Batman basically went toe to toe with the Devil to get him back and now Damian has Superman powers. Comics!
So, pending any dead Arrow/Canary babies needing resurrection, the Arrow version is actually a little more complicated. In this case, Ollie falls for an also-smoking-hot assassin, but she happens to be the sister of his high-school girlfriend, that he cheated on said girlfriend with, and that also used to work for a mad scientist, and that he thought drowned once. She’s also a weird mixture of herself and Black Canary, a more straightforward superhero with a super-powerful voice called the Canary Cry. Except, in this continuity, she’s both an assassin and a superhero and doesn’t have any powers because the character originated before superpowers officially existed in the continuity (i.e. post Barry Allen becoming the Flash). Comics TV!
3. He’s a CEO
CEO is more Bruce Wayne’s gig. It’s often listed as a reason he can counter Lex Luthor, being a good CEO instead of an evil one (in comics, some CEOs are actually good guys). Bruce obviously can’t run his company full time with his habit/fetish of beating people up while dressed as a leather flying mammal, but most versions I am familiar with have at least a passing interest in the company. This is one thing the Nolan movies got wrong, I thought, with sleepy Bruce Wayne. But I digress. Superhero CEO is Bruce Wayne’s job. Unless you get into Marvel’s Tony Stark, I guess.
Of course, Ollie was ultimately a failure as a CEO so maybe it works on that level. On the other hand, Ollie seemed to do a decent job at running his company despite having quite a few factors against him, such as terrorism and Summer Glau, who was out to destroy him with sexiness and/or beat him to death with ninjutsu despite the fact that she’s roughly a quarter of his size. Still, she looks pretty mean. Nonetheless, Ollie seems like he might have actually successfully run his company if not hampered, so it similarly seems like he’s stealing Bruce Wayne’s metaphorical Eggo.
4. His City Needs Him
I don’t really associate Ollie with the whole “the city needs me” bit. I definitely see that as more of a Batman thing. When Batman gets into things about how he is his city, it just seems like another Bat-boast along with being the night or being vengeance or your worst nightmare or all of those other Batman things. Arrow generally pulls off being pretty awesome, saving people all the time and maybe even the esoteric thing where superheroes make everyone else more awesome.
The recent arc where Arrow was gone less than a month and the city entirely lost control of the Glades – which almost descended into anarchy – took it a little far, though. I suppose most of it had to do with Brick and his evidence-destroying/blackmail scheme but still, you’d think Arsenal, Canary and Diggle could keep things together for at least a month. I originally thought months had gone by but after a little research, it looks like it was much, much shorter. It just seems a little quick, especially with the league of substitute heroes up and running in the meantime.
Wildcat is a dude who dresses like a cat and fights with boxing instead of the more fancy martial arts other heroes prefer. He’s also older, having been active long enough to have trained Batman and Catwoman. I always enjoyed his gruff old guy characteristics and slightly off-kilter costume in the old Justice Society of America days. The Arrow version is a little different, being a younger and sexier version who, instead of being one of the elder statesman of superheroics, is more of a total failure who now runs a gym.
At first it seemed like Wildcat was retired, but he returned to the superhero business briefly in a recent episode, being the first person to actually seem to hurt semi-invincible baddie Brick…before getting a total ass kicking and rolling up on the ground. It’s a mixed message, I guess. Either way, it was followed by a really long shot of Canary taking a break from the fight to tenderly hold his face and stare at him, so I guess some love entanglements are planned there. Unless she just froze up since she’s sort of not a real superhero yet. Who knows?
6. They Trimmed Back His Name
Instead of Green Arrow, he’s just Arrow, though they have occasionally flirted with the longer name. Arrow only has two syllables and sounds like Batman, so using the art of numerology I will say that the authors are trying to make a stronger connection between the two characters. Two syllables, and both men have a sidekick. This is the sacred duality. Also, both have two identities and two personalities (hero and playboy).
It does bother me, though. Arrow started out with the more real feeling name of “The Hood”, which I thought was fine, if a little weird as the show was called Arrow. Then later as part of Ollie becoming more heroic and no longer killing people he just became the Arrow. I guess “The Hood” sounds like a criminal and “Arrow” sounds like something that points at things, so that makes some sense. On the other hand, arrows are actually deadly while a hood is something you wear. Regardless of all of it, I don’t see how adding the word green would somehow ruin the whole thing. Especially since they often say “the Arrow”, which is just as cumbersome as “Green Arrow”. Can we give him his real name?
7. Damn, He’s Grim, Yo
Okay, this is a little bit of a retread with the romance angle, I admit, but really the biggest difference between Arrow Ollie and comics Ollie is a total lack of theatricality. Sure, he dresses like Robin Hood and fights evil with arrows, but comics Ollie always has that streak of publicity seeking and showboating. Meanwhile, Arrow Ollie seems to suck the air out of a room just by showing up. That’s good when he’s smoldering, and intimidating. The bad is that it’s a little too Batmanish, if you ask me. Ollie is not a totally grim guy.
Of course, comics Ollie doesn’t just seek publicity to make himself feel good. He is also a devoted left-winger, with his most famous version probably being the one that went road tripping with Green Lantern to discover the common people of America. He often takes big sweeping actions to help support this agenda, such as enacting gay marriage eight years ago when it was still controversial. Bruce Wayne? Well, he’s the founding member of the “society’s ills can be fixed by a dude dressed up in a leather suit punching people” party, so I’m not sure how you classify that. I do know that Ollie is a member of the same party now, and I feel like that’s losing something.
8. The Rivalry With Ra’s al Ghul
Not satisfied with stealing Batman’s girlfriend, he also stole one of Batman’s big villains, eco-terrorist Ra’s al Ghul. One of the weirder bits of the Nolan trilogy was tying Batman so close to what otherwise is not one of Batman’s most famous villains. I mean, Ra’s is great, don’t get me wrong, but I think most people think of Joker, Two Face, Riddler, Penguin, or Catwoman before him. When Ollie starts getting involved with Ra’s I really do have to suspect the Nolan influence, as otherwise he’s a fairly obscure character.
This is one charge the Arrow people don’t particularly deny. See Ollie dueling Ra’s with both of them shirtless, despite it looking rather cold! It has been confirmed that this was done basically entirely as a nod to Batman doing the same thing. Of course, Batman won. I have to admit this is a bit of a counterpoint; although Ollie acts like Batman and does some Batman things he kind of sucks at them compared to the overwhelming competency of Batman. Then again, we keep hearing that Ra’s will be coming back, so we can imagine that there will be a rematch…and Arrow will win? If not, the show will be getting pretty interesting.
9. Arrow Also Stole The Dark Knight Rises
Not just the end of The Dark Knight Rises, but some of the weirder bits. For instance, we see Ollie, barely recovered from his wounds that should have crippled him for life, off in another country. Then all of a sudden he’s back in the States, tipping the balance in a giant street brawl between good and evil where everyone forgets how to use guns. Add a flying vehicle with a superhero theme and evil Batmobiles and this is pretty much exactly what happened in Dark Knight Rises.
Except, you know, no one turned out to be a bad guy, then stabbed him. Then suddenly everyone was shooting each other despite that whole no-killing code thing, followed by Batman swimming multiple miles in a minute or so. Thus, it’s not quite as weird as Rises, but it’s still pretty weird. How did Ollie recover from his injuries? Sure, Tatsu (a.k.a. Katana in DC Comics/Beware the Batman continuity) got to him in time for some first aid and gave him some penicillin tea for his stab wound (which itself was conveniently not lethal despite being delivered by a guy with decades of experience as an assassin) but how did she fix all of the broken bones surely resulting from the fall? The mind boggles.
10. He Knows Superman
Okay, it isn’t really Superman. It’s the Atom, except he probably fights crime in a battlesuit/armor instead of shrinking. His “hard light” weapons sound a bit close to Iron Man for my preference, but it makes a little more sense when you realize that he’s actually supposed to be a version of Blue Beetle that had a rights issue and ended up being called Atom instead. Really, although the character is closer to Blue Beetle, he still sounds a lot like Iron Man, which is not totally ideal in my mind. He is played by an ex-Superman, though, and that resonates more in my mind.
The Superman/Batman connection is big on everyone’s minds lately since Zack Snyder announced the new movie/elaborate prank known as Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Given the allusions to The Dark Knight Returns and the Comic-Con preview short, we can probably expect some rivalry between the two followed by respect. This is exactly the path Ollie and Ray Palmer are on now. This one is a little less direct, but overall I think we can agree that Ollie is trying to horn in on the Batman/Superman relationship. Get your own bestie/rival, Ollie. Seriously.
Previously by David N. Scott
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