Monday, May 14, 2012

8 Reasons Why "Arrow" Won't Suck Like The Fans Fear It Will

After a violent shipwreck, billionaire playboy Oliver Queen was missing and presumed dead for five years before being discovered alive on a remote island in the Pacific. When he returns home to Starling City, his devoted mother Moira, much-beloved sister Thea, and best friend Tommy welcome him home, but they sense Oliver has been changed by his ordeal on the island. While Oliver hides the truth about the man he’s become, he desperately wants to make amends for the actions he took as the boy he was. Most particularly, he seeks reconciliation with his former girlfriend, Laurel Lance. As Oliver reconnects with those closest to him, he secretly creates the persona of Arrow – a vigilante – to right the wrongs of his family, fight the ills of society, and restore Starling City to its former glory. By day, Oliver plays the role of a wealthy, carefree and careless philanderer he used to be – flanked by his devoted chauffeur/bodyguard, John Diggle – while carefully concealing the secret identity he turns to under cover of darkness. However, Laurel’s father, Detective Quentin Lance, is determined to arrest the vigilante operating in his city. Meanwhile, Oliver’s own mother, Moira, knows much more about the deadly shipwreck than she has let on – and is more ruthless than he could ever imagine.

As possibly the most vocal Green Arrow fan on the Internet, I've certainly done my share of kvetching about this project.  But even I was unprepared for some of the complaints I've heard in response to this news now that the pilot is now officially a show in production.  And while there's a lot about this show that still has me nervous (i.e. Andrew Kreisberg is running it), there are some complaints I've seen that strike me as petty even by the standards of fanboys grousing about Hollywood.  Here now are some of the comments I've seen this morning and my responses.

1. They're calling it 'Arrow' instead of 'Green Arrow' and the character is called 'The Arrow'.

I can actually see a very smart reason for doing this - brand name recognition.  I'm sure most of you remember that we had both Green Lantern and a Green Hornet movies come out in 2011 and that despite being about very different characters a lot of the mainstream press and the teaming masses got the two confused.  And I'm sure that many of you Arrowheads out there have tried to talk about Green Arrow before, only for someone to say "Oh yeah!  I love that guy with the ring!"

2. By changing the name of the show/character, they're minimizing the connection to the comic book.
Given the state of Green Arrow over the past few years, that's probably for the best.  At present, the Oliver Queen in the comics (i.e. Steve Jobs in tights) is a completely different character from the Oliver Queen in the comics from a year ago (i.e. exile living in a mystic forest), the Oliver Queen from two years ago (i.e. urban avenger/newlywed) and even the Oliver Queen from five years ago (i.e. mayor by day/hero by night).  I'd love to see an interest in Green Arrow be kindled by this TV show but there's just no easy jumping-on point in any of the recent comics given how frequently the creative teams changed and the focus of the book shifted.  The best hope then, is for the show to succeed on its' own merits and for DC Comics to publish a comic based on the universe of the TV Show... like they have with all the animated adaptations and Smallville.

3. Oliver Queen has always been portrayed an orphan.

You know who else has always been portrayed as an orphan?  Batman.

Who is Green Arrow always accused of being a second-string version of?  Batman.

The difference between them is that while the death of Bruce Wayne's parents is essential dogma to the legend of The Batman, Ollie's status as an orphan isn't.  Ollie's moment of transformation came much later on in life.  So long as you portray Oliver Queen as a man who becomes lost at sea, discovers his talent for archery while struggling to survive and tries to mend his wicked ways on return to civilization, it doesn't matter whether Ollie's parents died of old age before he took over their company or were mauled by a lion while on safari.

4. Oliver Queen has always been portrayed as an only child.

See the above complaints regarding Ollie always having been an orphan.  Anything that helps to differentiate Ollie in the public eye as being different than Batman can only help.

5. Starling City?  Why not Star City?  Why not Seattle?  Why not any other real world city?

The problem with using a real-world location is that most large cities are very distinctive.  Even without major landmarks (i.e. The Space Needle), your average street in Seattle is different from Austin  which is different from Portland which is different from Los Angeles.  While they could "cheat" and just inter-cut location shots of Seattle between scenes, it is a bit more difficult to do this sort of thing in a superheroic action show which will - hopefully - include numerous rooftop battles.  It just looks bad to say you are in Seattle when you can clearly see Los Angeles landmarks in the background.

As for why they can't use Star City, perhaps the writers are trying to further separate this version of Green Arrow from the other more recent versions portrayed in the comics.  At the very least, it is one more thing that can be pointed to so enraged fanboys like me can be told "Well, see... totally different universe.  So the Green Arrow you like isn't being hurt."

6. Oliver Queen's mom was never a supervillain!

Up until J.T. Krul's brief Green Arrow run during Brightest Day, Ollie's mom was rarely mentioned let alone developed into a full character.  The one story I can remember her being in before was the Scott McCullar origin from the Green Arrow Secret Files which showed that Ollie's parents were killed while on safari. 

While the idea of a powerful, corrupt matriarch is hardly original, there isn't really a previous character to despoil in this case.  And I rather like the idea of Ollie having a specific evil to combat and redeem himself for rather than generic rallying against "fat cats". 

7. Laurel Lance?  Why can't she be Dinah Lance?

Well, I doubt it's because they plan to place her in the damsel-in-distress every week and they thought Laurel Lance would remind everyone of Lois Lane.  Again, this may be a subtle separation from the comics as they are now.  Again, rather a smart move given that Dinah Lance in Birds of Prey be on a completely different Earth than the current version of Green Arrow. 

8.  John Diggle?  His loyal sidekick is a big guy named John? 

Granting that's a little cheeseball, it's par for the course for the Green Arrow books.  The original corrupt executive who stole Oliver Queen's fortune?  John DeLeon.  Or John The Lion.  As in Prince John.

Besides, it's nowhere near as cheesy as Ollie's bodyguard form his mayor days being a big guy named John Smalls.  And I think the "Diggle" last name may be a nod to Green Arrow: Year One author Andy Diggle, which I definitely approve of.

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