As an admitted (if not vehement) Green Arrow fangirl, I’ve been waiting for years for some sort of adaptation of Green Arrow to hit theatres or TV. It’s not surprising, then, that the CW saw 2012 as the time to debut such an adaptation, with the close of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy and the ubiquity of archery (who would have guessed?). It seems that its timing was right: Arrow had the network’s highest-ranking premiere since Vampire Diaries in 2009, pulling in over 4 million viewers, some of whom must have been, as I was, warily optimistic about its success.
Interestingly, that’s about how I still feel following the series premiere of Arrow. Many a tweet and tumblr post has been devoted to the physique of the lead, Stephen Arnell, and physically, he definitely embodies recent incarnations of the Emerald Archer. Arrow seems to take cues from the New-52 incarnation of Oliver Queen, as well as echoes of the origin story presented in the Andy Diggle-penned Green Arrow: Year One.
The pilot episode also draws unfortunate (but not unwarranted) comparisons to Batman Begins. It could be argued that this was inevitable, given that Green Arrow began, ostensibly, as a Batman rip-off.*
The series was also bound to draw these comparisons as it is clearly making an attempt at a much darker, grittier Green Arrow. On the whole, the action sequences are executed well, and a few members of the GA rogues gallery had a least a hint of presence. I’m most intrigued to see how the relationship between Ollie and Tommy “Merlyn” Merlyn (I see what you did there) develops. If anything, I hope that the series won’t rely too heavily on action sequences at the expense of story and character. Of all of the incarnations of GA I’ve seen, there wasn’t one I could foresee straight-up breaking a neck to protect his identity. There is veering away from Smallville, (which the series has definitely succeeded in doing), and there is departing from the character’s comics origins altogether.
Other notable changes include adding a whole Queen family to the line-up, setting up Ollie’s sister, Thea, as the new Speedy (to the extent that her nickname is even “Speedy”- they’re not leaving much to the viewer imagination). Papa Queen died in the wreckage that strands Ollie, and Mama Queen is clearly involved in some underhanded activities shrouding the mysterious life-and death- of Ollie’s father. We’re also introduced to the Lance family (including “Laurel”- the Black Canary we all know and love, though we’re never told why she doesn’t go by Dinah) and other characters that populate the criminal underbelly of Starling City (another baffling, and kind of distracting, change).
If the pilot has suffered from anything, it might be over-ambition, introducing too much at once: a rushed backstory, introduction of minor and major players, conspiracy, but ultimately I’m intrigued to see where they take the character. It wouldn’t be the worst thing to do an entire episode set on the island, or to introduce a little more social consciousness to the character. It shows promise, even if it falls just slightly short of the mark.
*Need more info about Green Arrow’s history? Check out my Fangirl Friday post here.