Being younger in High School, I loathed history class and I’m sure that I’m not the only one feeling that way. Granted, I had some really awesome teachers but still the subject they were teaching didn’t really grab my attention. Being older now, I look at our culture and see the cool side of this much hated subject. However, we’re taught history in mediums in which we may look at and not even see history. Take for example: Comic Books. The majority of the characters that are written for the film, television show, or audio dramatic audiences already have history to them. It’s just a matter of having the passion to know more about it. Have you ever seen a film or television show that you loved so much, you wanted to know every small detail about it? Let’s be honest, I know I’m not the only movie buff who walks this planet.
In this series of articles we will chronicle the history behind the new hit television series, Arrow and its 71 year career of its character, Green Arrow.
To most people Green Arrow isn’t a house hold name. Mainly because he’s not Superman or Batman, the only iconic DC superheros that most people outside of the comic culture are familiar with. With the success of the Blade films and Batman Begins, screenwriter David S. Goyer, along with Justin Marks, attempted to bring the character to the big screen in Green Arrow: Escape from Super Max. The film was said to have featured cameos from Lex Luthor, the Riddler and the Joker. The film did not contain an origin story; it was already set up as if Green Arrow was already established. The film really hasn’t seen any development since its announcement in 2008. Now fast forward to January 2012, the CW green lights a series pitch from Andrew Kreisberg, Marc Guggenheim and Greg Berlanti. In May of that same year and the series has officially been picked up from the network. The ratings for the show were so impressive to the network, that after only two episodes, they picked the show up for an entire first season.
The pilot opens with a hooded man running across mountain tops igniting an arrow to get the attention of a boat passing by. The narrative of Oliver Queen reveals he was found on an island in the North China Sea called Lian Yu, which is mandarin for Purgatory. This island plays a huge part in the development of the character of Oliver Queen, who becomes The Starling City Vigilante. If you don’t know the definition of Purgatory allow me to explain because it will be essential as we progress our knowledge of the island. Purgatory is defined by a state or even a place in which a temporary punishment, expiation or remorse occur. Ultimately, it’s a place between Heaven and Hell in which an individual soul’s ultimate fate is decided. That’s the type of island in which billionaire Oliver Queen was stranded on for five years. Throughout his long history, Queen has been stranded on an island several times in his many alternative origin stories. The first of these different takes was established in 1959’s “The Green Arrow’s First Case”. Being stranded on an island is nothing new to the Green Arrow mythology.
During the hospital scene of this episode, we start to get a sense of the physical damage that Queen underwent while on Lian Yu. It is revealed his body is covered in 20% of scar tissue, his arms and back have second degree burns and that he has 12 fractures in which most remain unhealed. Continuing the journey back home, he is greeted by his new stepfather, Walter Steele. The character, Walter Steele, was given birth to the arrow mythology in August 2010. He overtakes Queen Industries after Green Arrow goes missing. In the television show, he marries Oliver’s mother after the death of her husband, Robert. In the comics, Oliver’s mother Miora was actually killed with Robert while on a family trip to Africa.
In 1971’s “Justice League of America” #94, we are introduced to the character Merlyn. The villain known as The Dark Archer will be introduced later in the show. So, we will discuss him later. When Merlyn was given a rebirth in the New 52, he was no longer the alter ego of Arthur King but of Tommy Merlyn. The New 52 portrays him as a close friend to Oliver, as does the television show. One of the first scenes we see the two share screen they are discussing a party on behalf of Oliver’s return, which will later serve as his alias to don the hood on his first mark, Adam Hunt. Hunt is a villain created for the purpose of the show’s dramatic take on the character.
Possibly when it comes to this character one of the most famous things he is known for is his romance with Dinah Laurel Lance, or Black Canary, as many may know her. In the series, she is no longer a metahuman crime fighter but a former flame of Oliver’s turned lawyer. Throughout a subplot of the episode, it is revealed that Lance is fighting the same target as Oliver’s “Hood” persona. Perhaps, the writers did this to pay homage to the fact that in the comics Green Arrow and Black Canary often fought crime together. In Canary’s history, she is never portrayed as a sister to anyone. However, that’s not the case with Arrow. In fact, she has a sister and before Oliver’s island issues, Sarah Lance is sneaking around with Oliver while they are dating. Doing the storm, that leaves Oliver stranded, Sarah is killed. Five years after the wreck, Laurel still holds bitter anger and resentment towards Oliver, she still blames him for her death.
So, how exactly do you introduce a vigilante into a broken city? That’s easy get kidnapped and while your best friend is unconscious and kill the kidnappers. When the cops ask you about it, tell them your costumed persona saved you. Well, that’s at least how Oliver went about it. This results in John Diggle being hired to serve as a bodyguard for him. This body guard concept could be paying homage to the character Hackett introduced in 2007’s “Year One” mini-series. One of the biggest things, die hard Arrow fans wanna see is Speedy, Queen’s costumed sidekick. Well, you won’t see him; at least, not this early in the series. However, the name Speedy you will hear. It is donned by his younger sister Thea, who was written for the series – she has never existed prior to this, who got the nickname while the two were kids. It’s explained that she got it because she always chased Oliver around while the two were still children. Fear not however, the writers will introduce Speedy’s alter-ego Roy Harper later in the series.
In recent years, one truth few people can deny is how big of a success the last two Christopher Nolan-Batman films were; each film grossing over a billion dollars during their box office run. It was one of the first times, in comic film medium we were able to see a superhero grounded in reality. This is where the idea of Arrow came about.However, little known fact is that in 1999’s “JLA 80-Page Giant” #2, Green Arrow revealed that he was heavily inspired by his admiration of Batman. That truth is very evident within the first episode of Arrow. The scene in which he is constructing his HQ, is very similar to Bruce Wayne designing the Bat cave in Batman Begins. Both of his scenes with his antagonist, Adam Hunt, you’ve seen before. The first encounter takes place in a garage while Hunt and his security are walking to his car, they are attacked. Think the Carmine Falcone at the docks scene from Batman Begins. Even, in his second meeting with Hunt looks an awful lot like the opening sequence from Batman Forever. In which the vigilante comes up an elevator only to be greeted by henchmen who are protecting the villain. When the cops stumble onto Hunt being attacked by “The Hood”, Oliver is confronted by the SCPD about it. Oliver openly mocks the idea calling him “a nut bar in a green hood.” Seems like we’ve heard something similar before; think dinner scene from Batman Begins. “A man who dresses up as a bat clearly has issues.”
Fans of The Dark Knight Trilogy, if you have not seen this show, watch it. It is, in my opinion, the best show on television. The writers know how to make the action sequences great, the writing comical when it needs to be. The defying factor that really got me hooked to this show was the way the writers wrote Oliver’s story and how being stranded on an island took its psychological toll on him. It is extremely well written in that aspect alone. At times, images of the island come across as cheesy CGI but it truly is a great show. The creators of the show are taking their time and not rushing his origin story, which is something in itself to love. They tell the original story as flashbacks between dialogue of the main plotline. Arrow is chucked full of history that plays extremely well into the character’s lesser known career. By the time, this series ends we may see a big screen adaptation and people will know the name: Green Arrow.
This article was first posted on April 2, 2013