Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: billionaire playboy takes up hooded vigilantism in order to rid his city of injustice. This hero prefers martial arts and projectile weaponry to guns, and has to lead a double life as a spoiled, party-loving heir.
Batman? No way, I’m talking about Green Arrow, here!
Three weeks ago, the CW premiered the pilot episode of their new series, “Arrow,” which graces the little screen Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. The series seeks to fill the void left in primetime television by such favorites as “Smallville” and “Heroes.”
“Arrow” is to DC Comic’s Green Arrow as “Smallville” was to Superman, that is. For those of you who aren’t comic readers, think of GA (or Oliver Queen, as he goes by during the day) as a rugged version of Batman. After a stint on an Asian island and some hefty martial arts training, Queen returns home to Star City (Starling City in the TV series, for some inexplicable reason) to enact his own rough brand of justice on those responsible for turning the once profitable metropolis into something of a polarized hellhole. And his justice is rough: from the pilot episode, Arrow shows no qualms about killing, unlike the Caped Crusader; goons end up with arrows through the throat left and right.
“Arrow” fits right in with CW’s lineup, leveling action and intrigue laced with heavy doses of lady-boner-inducing male fan service. In the pilot episode alone, lead actor Stephen Armell must have spent the majority of time shirtless, shooting arrows, hacking computers and doing sweaty upside-down sit-ups from the ceiling of his warehouse-turned-lair. Granted, the female leads of Katie Cassidy (lawyer Laurel Lance) and Willa Holland (Arrow’s sister, Thea Queen) remain fully clothed, much to the male fanbase’s chagrin.
The pilot was gritty, fast-paced and attention-grabbing, and “Honor Thy Father” rode the coattails of that success pretty effectively, giving more details into Queen’s past and introducing the DC villainess China White, who may end up more integral to the plot of the series than her comic book counterpart.
The third episode, “Lone Gunmen,” received more mixed reviews. Several critics noted that the schtick of Oliver Queen escaping his bodyguard tail, John Diggle (played by David Ramsey) is getting pretty tired. Additionally, episode three featured the first appearance of a major DC character, the much-beloved Deadshot. The sharpshooting assassin still features his trademark red eyeglass, but hardcore fans may be displeased with his portrayal.
On the whole, “Arrow” does an effective job of appealing to the true DC fans as well as the mainstream followers of CW. Aside from a few inane and pointless changes, the series brings an appropriately fresh take on the character, much like Christopher Nolan did for Batman. The most frustrating aspect of the show is the denial of the moniker “Green Arrow,” holding to the precedent set in “The Dark Knight Rises,” where writers refused to refer to Selina Kyle as “Catwoman.”
So far, though, “Arrow” has proven itself to be a healthy compromise between geek and chic, a bulls-eye on DC’s part to make comics appeal to a wider audience.