Sunday, October 14, 2012

Green Arrow Begins

When rumors of a Green Arrow show began circulating a few years back, I was excited. I’m always excited when a superhero comes to television. Back then, the show would have been a spin-off of Smallville, and would have starred Justin Hartley. But like the myriad of other ideas that the producers of Smallville proposed, it was rejected by the CW Network’s president at the time, Dawn Ostroff. Ms. Ostroff was not keen on superhero shows. She wanted her network to be for girls. It had something to do with the type of advertisers she wanted to attract. So instead of Green Arrow, Aquaman, or Lois Lane (they were all proposed); they gave us remakes of 90210 and Melrose Place. Dawn Ostroff was really hated by Smallville fans, and I conjecture that she hated Smallville. The only reason she probably kept it on was because it maintained high ratings, even after she banished it to Friday nights. But the Wicked Witch of the CW is dead (fired), and the new guy in charge isn’t a sexist, so we finally get a new superhero show. Now, with four-million viewers on premier night, Arrow is a hit, and that Ostroff woman can suck on it over at Conde Nast Entertainment, whatever the heck that place is.

The difficulty with starting a new Green Arrow show from scratch now is that the story was already told very recently on Smallville. The origin story for Arrow pretty much follows the mythos, with Oliver Queen being a spoiled billionaire who is stranded on a deserted island for several years where he transforms into a superhero. Playing around with a familiar character’s mythos is generally frowned upon, so I concur that it’s best to just retell the story, while adding a few tweaks here and there. The tweaks, as revealed so far, is that he still has family alive, and residing with him in their mansion, which could also mean that he doesn’t have unfettered access to the family’s billions in order to fund his superheroics. I doubt if the writers have considered that, but it would be an interesting challenge if he had to operate on a budget.

Stephen Amell is a different Oliver than Justin Hartley was. Amell is more intense, as the Green Arrow should be. While I liked Hartley’s portrayal, it was more light hearted, giving the character more of a mischievous edge. Amell’s version gives the character a degree of danger, someone who could step over the edge at some point. This guy is willing to kill, and he does, though he only kills the killers once they know his secret. They’ve made the decision to have his arrows actually pierce bodies, choosing to have them “just miss” the vital organs most of the time, which is not a reflection of any lack of accuracy on his part. It’s a bold move for a superhero, but one that is necessary when his weapon of choice is defined by a pointy head. I noticed that the actor comes across as stiff, but I believe this may be a character choice, as someone who is guarded, so it works.

The supporting characters consist of one Laurel Lance, Dinah Laurel Lance that is, otherwise known as the Black Canary. She and Green Arrow have a long history together in the comic book. They have even gotten married, though it’s one of those on again, off again things. She should be showing some superheroic moves relatively soon, hopefully in costume. It will be interesting to see if they include her supersonic yell known as the “canary cry,” as that would classify the series as science fiction, instead of just action.  His sidekick, Speedy is also around, but not the familiar one, whose name was Roy. They’ve opted for the girl version, and made her his sister. I’m going to hold out hope that Roy will be incorporated into the show somehow. It just doesn’t seem right to ignore the original. That would be like Batman skipping over Dick Grayson for, what was her name, Stephanie? Yes, there was a girl Robin for awhile. Maybe she can be the new Speedy’s BFF here.

The action sequences are well choreographed, and Amell appears to have been trained well in martial arts. The villains so far are normal thugs and gangsters, but it appears that the Green Arrow’s substantial, though not well known rogues gallery is expected to make appearances. I believe that this is a must. A hero is defined by his enemies. Without them, there would be no need. At this point, it will be the cartel that controls Starling City. That’s fine, but I’ll be looking forward to Deathstroke and the Dark Archer.

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