The TV networks have gone comic book mad. Every night there’s another superhero show to watch, with many more in development. Similar to other TV shows, there are some good superhero shows and some bad ones. While the likes of Daredevil, The Flash and Agent Carter are picking up the plaudits, Arrow is seemingly becoming lost on the outskirts (particularly with the critics). It’s a shame considering it is the show that kicked off the superhero TV renaissance.
Back in 2012, Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg took on the unenviable task of bringing a DC character not named Batman nor Superman to the screen. Somehow they made it work and the show averaged about 3.68 million viewers over the course of the first season. It turned lead star Stephen Amell into a bona fide superstar (he’s going to be Casey freakin’ Jones for crying out loud!), as well as introducing two new popular characters, John Diggle and Felicity Smoak, who have now become mainstays in the Green Arrow universe.
The first season served as a soft origin story, showcasing who Oliver Queen was and became and his family, friends, lovers and enemies. However, the second season was where Arrow really found its feet, as Oliver fought the unstoppable (and brilliant) Deathstroke, portrayed by Manu Bennett. The action was relentless, the episodes were gripping, and we had a real hero and villain dynamic, complete with plausible motive, to cheer on. Then season three began with the promise of Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Assassins…and Arrow failed its audience (see what I did there?).
Search any Arrow-related article and you’ll discover the biggest complaint of the show: it has turned into Batman. It’s a fair comment. Think of Arrow’s Oliver Queen: constantly brooding, emotionally unavailable, chosen to be the new Ra’s al Ghul and so forth. Yup, he’s pretty much Batman without the cape and cowl.
Instead of positioning Oliver Queen as a modern day Robin Hood, with a fiery temper and witty banter, he has become a darker, grittier character sharing way too many character traits with the Dark Knight. While it might’ve worked initially, the storylines are relying too much on classic Batman characters and similar story arcs as of late. Unfortunately, this has created a blurred main character and sloppy, disjointed stories – especially with the constant reliance on The Vampire Diaries-esque love triangles (these need to stop).
It’s understandable why the writers and producers have gone in this direction. The Green Arrow has never been as popular as the caped crusader and there is a fear that the audience might not be too familiar with his world. But you have to put faith in the audience, and give them more credit than that.
Look at The Flash as a prime example: it has stayed true to the character and refreshed a few elements for TV. The series has received critical acclaim and satisfied the most ardent fanboy. It doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not, and even pokes fun at itself from time to time. If you don’t believe me, watch the amount of fun that Mark Hamill had reprising his role as the Trickster.
As the third season of Arrow comes to an end, it’s an opportune time for the writers and producers to revisit the drawing board and amend a few things. Here are a couple of my own suggestions:
- If it reminds you of Batman, stay away from it. Gotham is already on TV.
- Not every person encountered in the series needs to be a part of Arrow Inc. I think more people know that Oliver Queen is the Arrow than those who don’t.
- Decide what the purpose of Detective Lance is. He is no Jim Gordon.
- Reveal that Sara is really Laurel, or something like that, because no one takes Laurel seriously as the Black Canary.
- Bring back Deathstroke.
- Consider introducing Hal Jordan/ Green Lantern.
- Bring back Deathstroke. Have I said that already?