SHOWCASE PRESENTS: Green Arrow Isn’t Batman
Editors Note: All editorials are solely the opinion of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of DC Comics News or its staff.
At some point, someone at DC made the logical decision that they wanted to capitalize on Batman’s popularity in as many mediums as possible. Naturally, movies and television were on the list of “stuff that would be markedly improved by Batman.” Unfortunately, Batman can’t have two live-action incarnations at the same time. Why? Good question. I don’t really have an answer for that. I mean, Clark Kent got to show up as two different actors in both Superman Returns and Smallville with no problems whatsoever. Batman? Off limits.
Anyway, given that Batman couldn’t do the whole TV thing while Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy was happening in theaters, DC decided to use the next best thing: Green Arrow. After all, they’re both billionaires without superpowers who fight crime, how different could they possibly be? Very. The answer is “very.”
Back in the Smallville days of yore, DC had Oliver Queen show up in Metropolis. And, seemingly, never, ever leave. Fortunately, some members of Smallville’s writing staff knew the difference between the two characters and actually made sure Green Arrow was a snarky, sarcastic badass with a weakness for pretty girls. Oddly enough, they decided that weakness mainly extended to Chloe Sullivan and Lois Lane. Ollie also got a fun rivalry with Lex Luthor and got to assemble the Justice League. Given Smallville’s motto of “literally everyone is better than Clark at being a superhero,” this wasn’t too bad.
But now, with CW’s Arrow, the gap between Bruce Wayne and Oliver Queen is rapidly closing. Arrow presents us with a dark, brooding Ollie who puts on a rich, playboy facade to fool his family and friends. His main love interest is a childhood friend who works at the DA’s office. His driver/bodyguard is his main superhero assistant. He has a tech-guru friend who works at his family’s company. His best friend and romantic rival underwent a fall from grace before dying. He operates in the seedy part of town (called “the Glades” in Arrow, a parallel of “the Narrows”), which the main villain of the show intends to destroy. The one good cop on the force is on his side (at least, as of season 2). One of his villains created what was essentially a fear toxin. And, while this hasn’t been explicitly shown (yet), it’s heavily implied that Ollie’s mentor turned out to be evil, so Ollie betrayed him and left him for dead (drawing Deathstroke/Ra’s Al Ghul parallels in world where Ra’s Al Ghul apparently exists).
Hell, even the minor plot elements (the “hood gang” vs “the hockey-pad batmen”) and the more iconic lines (the Huntress’s “does it come in purple?” was nothing short of cringe-worthy) from the Dark Knight trilogy have been endlessly and unapologetically repurposed while only paying lip-service to the Green Arrow mythos.
The problem is that Green Arrow is a fascinating character. He’s more Tony Stark (at least, Robert Downey Jr’s portrayal) meets Bruce Wayne than straight up Batman. His complicated and flawed and witty and he has the coolest facial hair humanly possible. In some continuities, Green Arrow is shown to be a bit of a Batman-fanboy, copying elements like the Batcave and the Batmobile with arrow-themed variants (the Arrow Cave and Arrow Car respectively). The implication being that Green Arrow exists in a larger world of heroes. Seeing his transformation to a member of the Justice League and uneasy ally of Batman adds that much more depth to his character.
But just making him a Batman clone with great hand-eye coordination? That’s… pointless.
A fair amount of my annoyance with this trend stems from the fact that Arrow has actually proven to be a decent show on occasion. The fifth episode of season 1 was absolutely brilliant. See, Ollie got himself arrested under suspicion of being the Vigilante after a security camera caught him grabbing his costume in a stairwell. The thing is, Ollie had planned to be arrested on that very charge from the beginning. He knew it was too coincidental that he’d arrived back in Starling City (ugh) around the same time the Vigilante showed up and he needed to dispel any connection people might feel the two shared. And he succeeded. He proved himself to be a truly masterful liar. It was an episode that, while flawed, showed forethought and intelligence on the part of it’s main character. It was refreshing.
I will admit that I do enjoy watching Arrow on a weekly basis. I just hope that the show’s creators realize what a great character Oliver Queen really is and they actually let him be that guy instead of a low-budget ripoff.