A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed the series premiere of Fox’s Gotham… and it didn’t do too well. Three episodes in and it continues being a show confused by its potential and appears muddled while attempting to get the best of all worlds while toying with indecision. All-in-all, it was a poor attempt at a Batman prequel. Worse, it is a lousy attempt at being anything Batman.
So thank heavens for Arrow.
Now in its third year, Arrow has not only introduced a plethora of familiar faces (both heroes and villains) but also recognisable concepts and themes that one would expect to see in any self-respecting superhero show.
Beginning as a lone vigilante with a secret life, Arrow sees the eponymous hero grow into his own as he slowly pulls together a small army of allies headquartered in a well-stocked, high-tech secret base… wait, this sounds helluva lot like this guy:
Well, it’s no secret that Green Arrow was, in fact, a Batman rip-off. Also published by DC Comics, Green Arrow first appeared in More Fun Comics and was little more than a “what if Robin Hood was born in Gotham?”
With his own Arrow-Car and Arrow-Plane, as well as his own Arrow Cave (and for you Injustice fans out there, ‘Quiver’ is a better name), Green Arrow was even accompanied by his own red-and-yellow clad sidekick—Speedy.
Over the years, Green Arrow was re-tooled by various creative teams into becoming a character that DC would occasionally use to address political and social issues in a more direct manner usually unseen in their other, more “mainstream” titles. Most memorably, he was reinvented as a political left-winger and voice of the American progressives during the influential Neal Adams and Dennis O’Neil run from the late ’60s to early ’80s—a run that continues influencing the character and its adaptations till today.
While all of these aspects of the character continues to be seen in Arrow, the writers have noticeably dropped the character’s sardonic sense of humour choosing to, instead, surround him with slightly more light-hearted characters—very much like the stories involving a certain caped crusader.
Most importantly, Arrow does for me what The Dark Knight Trilogy spectacularly failed at: living up to its potential as a comic book show while handling the source material with respect and without taking itself too seriously. Don’t believe me? Here’s a spoiler-free synopsis of a scene from the second season’s finalé:
“Vigilante with tortured past allied with his sidekick in red, his sometimes lover in black, an heir of the demon’s head, and her father’s army, all going up against a villain hellbent on destroying the vigilante’s city.”