The comic book adaptation trend that’s exploded in the 21st century has only gotten bigger in recent years—a trend Arrow can thank for being able to exist at all. But a necessary evil of keeping up with prominent superheroes is that there’s a lot of them. Lots of heroes, lots of different versions, and lots more universes in every possible form of media.
So, even though Arrow has garnered acclaim, popularity and a fanbase, viewers are still going to subconsciously (and consciously) pin him up against his predecessors and contemporaries. From accusations that it’s ripped off the “gritty reboot” status of The Dark Knight, to riding the wave of a bow and arrow fad, to constant, unrelenting Smallville comparisons, the inevitable question is: Has the show forged its own identity, separate from its predecessors?
With the show on winter hiatus, the GATV staff decided to offer some insight and reflection on this phenomenon over the next few weeks. Hopefully, this will tide you over until the show’s return on January 16 and kick off some discussion of your own. We certainly welcome any insights or questions you feel like sharing to keep up the dialogue.
We’ve broken our discussion over these four weeks into three main topics:
- Week 1: Reaction and analysis of Arrow so far, Part 1
- Week 2: Reaction and analysis, Part 2
- This Week: Comparison with other comic adaptations
- Week 4: Expectations and predictions for the rest of Season 1
This week, we’ll take a bit of a different route and delve into Arrow in the bigger scope of comic-inspired movies and television, comparing him with similar heroes and circumstances. And, yes, lots of inevitable Smallville references.
Jumping right into it…
WHERE DOES ARROW’S OLIVER QUEEN STAND FOR YOU IN THE GRAND SCHEME OF GREEN ARROW ADAPTATIONS? (SMALLVILLE, JLU, DC ANIMATED MOVIES, ETC.)
CRAIG (Webmaster/Editor-in-Chief):I think this version of Arrow is well represented in comparison to the other versions. We talked last week about Amell’s Oliver lightening up a bit, which is still something I think we’ll get, but there are parts of every other Green Arrow that I feel within this one. As for picking a favorite—that’s hard, because there are so many different good takes. Kevin Smith’s Green Arrow was different from Denny O’Neil’s which is different from Mike Grell’s, but it doesn’t make one necessarily “better” than the other. I feel that way with adaptations, too. As long as it’s a scrappy guy with a green suit and a bow and arrow, I’m good. And Stephen has done that.
MATT (Writer/Reviewer): I think we’re in an interesting position with this take because all others have been “fully-formed” Green Arrow. With Justin Hartley’s version on Smallville, they got to explore some of his past and his motivations, which lent itself to the idea of doing another adaptation that bore Arrow. With things like JL/JLU or even Superfriends, his personality was more or less already established, even if it only took certain aspects of the character from the various comic runs. What Arrow is doing is building a character from the ground up, so it’s hard to really stack this Ollie against the others. He’s still finding himself and his way. From that standpoint, I like that we’re dealing with some new ground in adaptations with him.
DEREK (Writer/Reviewer): Yeah, my personal favorite is JLU’s Green Arrow (voiced by Kin Shriner.) He was used incredibly well there. But again, the reason he worked was because his age, charisma and snarky-ness were played against other heroes. So he’s a completely different animal.
MATT: I liked JL/JLU‘s Green Arrow. And I really liked the DC Showcase short version, even if it was very brief. Amell’s stacks up well but it’s such a different approach. We’re seeing him grow into an Oliver that will be more well-possessed and probably more entertaining as the series goes along. Though, it remains to be seen if his Arrow persona will be snarky “on the job.”
ANDY (Writer for sister site KSiteTV.com): I think they are presenting it very well in comparison to previous incarnations in the media and the comics that I have read, Longbow Hunters and Year One. Stephen Amell does bring many of the iconic Oliver Queen/Green Arrow that I know of at least but the thing is that we are so far away from the full-fledged Green Arrow so he still has a long way to go.
STEPHANIE (Writer/Episode Guide Archivist): The only other Green Arrow version I am familiar with is from Smallville, so I find comparing the two slightly difficult. On Smallville, Green Arrow/Oliver seemed to be defined by his relationship to Clark and how his style of taking down criminals compares to Clark’s, whereas on Arrow, Oliver is
defining himself. In this respect, I like Arrow more. But, on the other hand, I thoroughly enjoyed the sarcasm and sass that Hartley incorporated and that aspect really made me like the Oliver character.
CRAIG: Justin is mega-charismatic. His best moments on Smallville were when he could be a bit of a smartass, like in “Absolute Justice.”
MATT: Hartley’s Oliver was definitely more entertaining. At least to this point.
CRAIG: Amell’s Oliver probably looks better on the salmon ladder, though. +1 Arrow. And I do like that the family of Oliver Queen is a part of this version.
ANDY: I’m with you Craig, I love that his family is part of this incarnation, and correct me if I’m wrong, but in the comics the family hasn’t been that much explored, as far as I know.
CRAIG: I think they were talked about in a 1995 annual or something like that, but no, not really.
MATT: Yeah, bringing in his family is an intriguing mix. It does well to separate itself from other versions with that. We briefly got to see the Queens on Smallville but, in a way, they were really kind of unrelated to that Ollie. Tess had a bigger connection with his past, as did Lex. I wasn’t sure the dynamic would work, but it does. Plus, it also gives another way to distinguish itself from Batman’s origins.
ANDY: One of the things that made Smallville a success was the family aspect, how connected they were with Clark Kent and that is the same feeling that I get from watching this show. The family does ground him in way.
MATT: That’s interesting. I don’t get the same feeling with the Queens on this show that I did with Smallville. I think the Kents were more of a family than Arrow‘s Queens. I think they are finding themselves as a family on this show more.
CRAIG: I think the Queens are kind of like the Luthors (again with the Lex/Oliver comparison.) Would Moira Queen what be what Lillian Luthor would have been, if she had lived? And could Jamey Sheridan have grown Lionel’s mane?
DEREK: Yeah, the Kents were used as an actual family, whereas the Queens are, in a weird way, kind of plot devices themselves. Not in a bad way, though—the family drama is some of the best stuff. The Luthors, like Craig said.
CRAIG: I don’t like that the only truly sane Queen family member right now has been abducted.
ANDY: Hey Craig, give Thea some credit, she is sane…in her own way.
CRAIG: Let her go 2 episodes without reckless behavior and I’ll re-assess.
DEREK: I think my one beef with this version of Oliver is that, because we’re looking at him as a character from such a different angle, it’s hard to really enjoy watching him, which is something we’ve touched on. But I guess the nature of the show is to be less invested in Oliver as he is, and more the journey he’s on and what he’ll become. The downside is just that it’s much harder for him to be likeable, like Hartley’s Arrow was.
CRAIG: My problem with Hartley’s GA is that he regressed. He was a LOT of fun in Season 6 and “Siren.” When he returned for Season 8-on, he was always either getting drunk, having sex with Chloe, or berating Clark, and I think a lot of people had trouble with someone always putting down the lead character like that. That’s kind of why I like Diggle—even when he disagrees with Oliver’s tactics, he’s at least respectful. SV‘s Green Arrow often became like, “Hey Clark, you suck at your job,” and that gets old after 2 or 3 times.
DEREK: Yeah, They definitely didn’t know what to do with him after a certain point. Part of that, I think, was the the idea that they were kind of merging the Batman dynamic with him too. So he’d fluctuate between being a light, fun hero to a dark, brooding anti-hero, and it never jibed.
CRAIG: When Smallville tried showing Oliver on the island (“Toxic”) it was kind of fail. Yeah, be marooned on an island where your hair and beard don’t grow but your highlights stay!
DEREK: Oh man, “Toxic” was so disappointing.
CRAIG: ”Toxic” needed Deathstroke on the island. But then considering how SV did Slade Wilson, I’ll take that statement back.
MATT: The thing I couldn’t stand about “Toxic” is that you never really got a sense of time. He was supposed to be there two years or something.
CRAIG: Legend has it that they did make a wig and all that for Justin but the network nixed it because they wanted to keep the pretty. I don’t know if that’s true or not. Read more about it in the companion book for Smallville Season 8, hitting bookstores never.
More specific to this show, let’s talk about its inspirations.
ARROW’S DARKER TONE IS CLEARLY INFLUENCED BY NOLAN’S DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY. DOES THIS FEEL NATURAL, OR FORCED ON THE MYTHOLOGY?
MATT: To me, it feels natural because it actually has an origin in the comics. And one from nearly 30 years ago.
ANDY: Natural. This character is a dark character, even in the comics—that I have read at least—where he is funny and lightened up.
CRAIG: It’s natural. I mean, it happened with The Flash after Burton’s Batman too. But I also don’t know how else to really do it. If you look at Green Arrow Year One, it’s probably a LOT like the Nolan Batman, if not more like it. (I admit, the comics’ China White was deadlier and more interesting)
MATT: Though I’ve personally always associated GA with more of an Errol Flynn Robin Hood vibe in tone, color, and attitude, Grell’s work with the character was a viable take. And this series feels quite rooted in that. I still like that China White isn’t glorified in this series. She’s a henchman. It’s an interesting use of the character.
MATT: I think it was inevitable that we’d get takes of comic characters on TV like this in the wake of the Dark Knight Trilogy’s success. To me, if we’re not getting a Batman show, GA actually seems like the most natural next in line for this kind of show. Just took a look at the Firefly pics from “Burned”. Gruesome and I like it. Of course, the inevitable Harvey Dent comparisons are already pouring out.
STEPHANIE: The fact that Arrow is SO often compared to Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy has made it seem like it was a forced aspect in the minds of the creators when it may not have been. I don’t see the creators sitting around and saying, “Ah yes, let’s copy a successful film franchise.” But, looking at the episodes themselves, the darker tone does seem deliberate to fit the storyline they’re going for. Having a character going around trying to clean up a corrupt city while freely joking and making light of it would not be as realistic as the series seems to want, not having any characters with superpowers and such.
CRAIG: I want to see how long it takes before the “no powers” rule is lifted. Personally speaking, I want to see the Black Canary’s sonic scream, though I guess that could be produced mechanically. I also loved the suggestion I read online that Justin Hartley should play Hal Jordan. Even without the ring.
STEPHANIE: Same, Craig, although that pesky “no flight, no tights” rule did last a while…Considering Arrow used a voice modulator that one time, Canary’s sonic scream via mechanical device could fit right in.
DEREK: I think it’s inevitable to introduce superpowers, ultimately, but they can probably last a while by just skirting on the edge of science fiction and the fantastical. Nolan’s Batman had a number of elements that were just believable enough to not remove you from the realism, but it still teetered quite close to comic book science and weirdness on more than one occasion.
Let’s delve a bit into the most base concept.
WHAT’S THE APPEAL OF A “BOW AND ARROW” THEMED HERO, AND HOW WELL HAS ARROW HAS UTILIZED THIS TREND?
MATT: I think this archery trend is interesting. Between Katniss in The Hunger Games, Merida in Brave, Hawkeye, the Olympics, and now Arrow, it’s supposed to be the biggest thing going right now. I guess the sport has seen a huge uptick in interest. For me, I haven’t seen a whole lot of people running to shoot a bow & arrow.
CRAIG: I think Arrow did it much better than The Avengers did, and I’m a huge “Hawk-guy” fan. A guy standing on a rooftop shooting arrows at aliens just looks kind of silly when you have an incredible hulk, an iron man, a God of thunder, and a star spangled Avenger doing their thing.
MATT: Hawkeye is one of my fave characters of all time. And I like Jeremy Renner as an actor. Avengers did no favors to either.
ANDY: But there is a difference, we never got that much development with that character in the movie, while Green Arrow has on the show.
CRAIG: I like that Arrow‘s character has other skills, like fighting and parkour. He doesn’t need the bow to be effective.
MATT: I think you could’ve had Clint doing lots of cool things in Avengers. Instead, he spends 2/3 of the movie being brainwashed by Loki. Dumb.
STEPHANIE: Looking at the Avengers, Hawkeye’s bow-and-arrow seemed out of place compared to the rest of the team’s powers. Iron man has a highly technological suit and Hawkeye fights in a primitive manner. I think the appeal of the bow-and-arrow is that it takes skill to be used as a sort of power, unlike the super speed or invulnerability that Superman was born with. It automatically makes Green Arrow a more realistic hero.
MATT: I think the appeal of a character like that is it’s something that seems achievable by your average person. I really like Ollie’s in-universe explanation for choosing to use a bow & arrow. Best rationale for it of all the live-action stuff we’ve seen so far.
Narrowing down strictly to TV, we already know what it’s been compared to the most.
HOW MUCH DOES THE WAY SMALLVILLE PLAYED OUT INFLUENCE YOUR EXPECTATIONS OF ARROW?
ANDY: Smallville had such a different tone than Arrow has. On Smallville we could have super-powered characters fighting with or against Clark on a weekly basis, there was this science fiction aspect to the show and everything. Looking from a superhero-show perspective: I did think “how is this going to be compared to Smallville from everything that I know about the show so far?” and so far the show is similar, but at the same time completely different from Smallville.
CRAIG: I think it’s good that Arrow comes from and is run by people who are deeply rooted in the comic books, whereas Al & Miles, and latter Kelly & Brian, just weren’t, which is fine… an outsiders’ voice works, and I think they did things and made some very good creative decisions that weren’t clouded by their own personal fan expectations. Andrew Kreisberg even wrote the Green Arrow/Black Canary comic book for a time, so he knows those “voices” a little bit. Some of Smallville‘s best times were when they brought in people from the comics world like Geoff Johns and Jeph Loeb, so, this is nice. I’m not suggesting that one approach is better than the other, necessarily, but I’m glad for it because it is at least different. Realistically—and with no disrespect to some of the Smallville folks—if they had done a Green Arrow show, love triangles would be at the center from day one, whereas the only triangle we have here, even Oliver himself is like “I’m okay if you two are together.” Whether or not this approach will work better in the very long term, we will see. I think a lot of what fueled Smallville fandom was the romances, oddly enough, but I’m glad to have a different kind of show here.
DEREK: For me, Smallville’s biggest problem was its overall pacing. There was very little foresight a lot of the time, and you could tell, which resulted in everything being really uneven. Arrow, at least at this point, seems to be on a very clear trajectory but still allows itself some room to breathe. Even if the showrunners are making it up as they go along, it certainly doesn’t feel like it.
STEPHANIE: The main expectation I have from Arrow when looking at the way Smallville played out is longevity. If Arrow ends having only completed a few seasons, then I would subconsciously think that they did something “wrong” in comparison to Smallville, even though there are numerous factors in a show ending. I may be in the minority, but I enjoyed the latter seasons of Smallville more than the stand alone “freak of the week” episodes. I don’t know if that is because of the focus on the main characters or prolonged stories. Arrow could improve a little more with the character development and lose some of the formula.
CRAIG: If the 2012 KryptonSite Awards are any indication, you’re not in the minority…or, at least, the fans who preferred the later seasons are more vocal online now. Me, I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the early years of Smallville.
ANDY:I think it’s free to say that the early years of Smallville have a special place in our hearts.
CRAIG: I think the first version of anything that we see is almost always the #1 in our hearts.
STEPHANIE: It could also be that I ended up watching Smallville starting with the later seasons instead of from the beginning. I agree that the beginning years of Smallville were special. It was a good way to catch the attention of the audience and slowly move into the serialized later seasons which the dedicated viewers stuck around for. It seems that the first few seasons were comprised of a story per episode while the later seasons were a big story per season. I wonder how much Arrow will become more serialized as the seasons progress.
DEREK: Smallville did do a much better job of giving us some characters to connect with right from the get-go. You could instantly care about or relate to at least one, if not all of the characters and get invested in the relationships really quickly. Arrow‘s grittiness and delving into the most complex stuff right from from the start set a good tone for the show, but it’s made it hard to connect with anyone. At least for me.
ANDY: I feel the complete opposite regarding connecting with the characters, and I think I mentioned this in the first or second part of the first roundtable discussion, but I have personally been able to connect with Thea since day one.
MATT: I’m sure we can and will get into specifics about each show as the distinct shows that they are, which is actually a bit tough because Smallville has 10 years under its belt and Arrow only has 9 episodes. From what I’ve seen so far, I do think Smallville did a much better job of emotionally attaching the audience to its characters in its first run of episodes. You felt like you got to know personalities, relationships, and places in the world much better, in addition to feeling more for the overall cast. Arrow, though, is doing a phenomenally better job of plotting, taking risks, and showing consequences and outcomes for those choices and risks organically. With Smallville, they would skip the results of something for a few episodes until they absolutely had to jump back into it for a new episode’s plot.
ANDY: You said it just there: Smallville has 10 years under its belt while Arrow has only 9 episodes.
MATT: Yeah, and I see that argument come up frequently when people talk about comparing the two. Personally, though, I have to echo what Craig said earlier about more familiar showrunners. I think that familiarity allows them to tackle this type of material better than what Smallville was doing. I can already see that in the first nine episodes. It’s not perfect by any means, but they have a stronger grasp and a more confident approach. Of course, Arrow doesn’t suffer from an identity crisis like Smallville would run into here and there.
All this brings up another question…
WOULD THERE BE AS MANY SMALLVILLE COMPARISONS IF ARROW AIRED ON A NETWORK OTHER THAN CW?
ANDY: I don’t think whatever network it would have been on would have done any difference
CRAIG: I think it’d be inevitable no matter where it went. Heroes was on NBC yet it was often given Smallville comparisons. If Wonder Woman had happened on NBC, same deal.
STEPHANIE: It’s inevitable since they have the same characters/comic book origins and much of the same audience.
MATT: Not as many, I don’t think. I mean, obviously, with Hartley’s version being so fresh, it’s only natural comparisons would be drawn. I think the fact that they didn’t spin Hartley’s character into his own series on the network didn’t make a lot of sense to the younger audience that grew up on Smallville.
DEREK: Yeah. I actually think if had been a cable show, perhaps—like we suggested FX last time—people wouldn’t make as many comparisons, at least not to the extent it has. CW has a very specific set of stereotypes people expect from it, whether they apply or not, so it kind of amplified people’s reactions I think.
CRAIG: I don’t think the younger audience is easily prepared for “new versions” sometimes. I saw that a lot, especially when Arrow was first announced. I grew up at a time where Christopher Reeve was movie Superman, but it was obvious he wasn’t going to play Superboy. Then I loved Lois & Clark. So by the time Tom Welling came along, I was cool with the change, because I’d seen it before and knew it was a fact of things. Those not exposed to that, may have not come about it so easily. I think I’m also biased because I see the legal/personal/marketing reasons behind something new. If Justin Hartley Green Arrow centered episodes of Smallville did amazingly well in the ratings near the end, I’d get it, but the truth of the matter is, they didn’t.
MATT: I grew up with Reeve, too, but we used to watch marathons of George Reeves’ show every year, so that had the same effect on me.
CRAIG: I also think it’s unfair to expect Justin to even want to pay the same character that he already played for 5 years. And then finally, if Arrow had been a spin-off, Al, Miles, and I assume the writers of the SV episode “Arrow” would be entitled to a royalty that’d come out of the weekly budget.
MATT:Well, yeah, they’d painted Hartley’s Ollie into so many corners by the time the series ended. It just wouldn’t have worked very well to continue that storyline. Even though I enjoy seeing him in the Season 11 comics.
Now it’s time to dream a little bit.
WHAT STUNT CASTING FROM OTHER COMIC ADAPTATIONS WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE ON ARROW?
CRAIG: We already brought up Justin Hartley to death, so I think we could or should take that one off the table for that answer.
ANDY: I would love to see perhaps Alaina Huffman to make some sort of cameo.
CRAIG: If it was to be anyone else from Smallville, I’d want it to be a not-as-noticeable name. I.e., no Tom Welling, Kristin Kreuk, Michael Rosenbaum, or Erica Durance. John Glover or Cassidy Freeman would be fun, though.
DEREK: I’d dig John Glover. He’d fit well, and I think he’d be game for it. Cassidy Freeman too.
STEPHANIE: Yes, to Cassidy Freeman. I would like her on nearly any television show.
CRAIG: Katie Cassidy’s father, David, is technically a comic book show vet, having played the Mirror Master. Maybe him? Or John Wesley Shipp himself would be cool. I also would grin a lot if Dina Meyer came on and had a scene with Katie Cassidy, for some Birds of Prey style action. Wouldn’t mind seeing Ashley Scott or Lori Loughlin either, actually, if we want to hit the Birds of Prey well.
MATT: You know, I’m not particularly sold on the necessity for stunt casting from other comic adaptations for the show. I mean, I wouldn’t mind to see some familiar faces, but I kind of love the entire geekosphere approach to guest casting they’ve employed so far.
DEREK: I’d like to see Alan Tudyk as a guest. I don’t know if many people would catch that he voiced Ollie on Young Justice, but he’d attract Whedonites.
MATT: I fully expect to see some Whedonites on the series at some point. Tudyk, Gina Torres, and Adam Baldwin would be fun.
CRAIG: Also because Andrew Kreisberg’s geeking out over it would be epic…David Tennant. If we can borrow Batman villains, David Tennant as the Riddler.
ANDY: I wouldn’t actually mind seeing Christopher Eccelston.
CRAIG: I think Eccleston may be way out of Arrow‘s budget range. Heroes had trouble affording him (which is why he disappeared – har har) and he’s doing movies more now. If you get someone that cost-prohibitive, you run into things like when James Marsters was on Smallville, when the appearances are spread out so much that it hurts the narrative.
MATT: I’m actually quite impressed with their casting department and the clout that these guys are pulling to get some of these names. I mean, they’re not big name stars that you have to worry about feature scheduling to work around, but these are some hefty genre actors putting in appearances. I dig that.
CRAIG: I also think the internet would break in half if Gareth David-Lloyd showed up as an associate of Malcolm Merlyn’s.
MATT: Ha! That would be funny. And great.
CRAIG: Was MacGruber enough of a career fall that Arrow could afford Val Kilmer yet?
MATT: Hey, Kilmer did do Knight Rider. *shudder*
ANDY: Maybe some of the actors from No Ordinary Family could appear on Arrow at some point?
CRAIG: I love, love, love Autumn Reeser. That actually brings up the casting that I would love to see over all others, that I had forgotten about. And Julie Benz was in the pilot of No Ordinary Family, which Greg Berlanti produced and Marc Guggenheim played a part in. There’s a chance we’ll be seeing Laurel’s mother Dinah sooner rather than later…I know Julie’s young, buuuut….You could get the Whedon people with that, too. Also, Julie Benz would look good in fishnets.
DEREK: Hey, Paul Blackthorne is probably too young to be Laurel’s dad too, but that didn’t stop them.
STEPHANIE: I concur with Julie Benz. I remember her from her Buffy days so I would love her back on something associated with the WB.
MATT: Speaking of Autumn Reeser, how ’bout getting Mark Valley or Jackie Earle Haley to guest? They would be great on the show.
CRAIG: I’d want Mark Valley to show up… as Christopher Chance.
MATT: All the better!
DEREK: Mark Valley is underused and underrated in everything, so I’d love to see him get some material.
CRAIG: I think Human Target would have been huger if part of a larger world. He’d definitely fit in Arrow‘s world, if they could make it happen. Guerrero would be great too, though. But, heck, I could have even seen Christopher Chance working as a Smallville guest character.
STEPHANIE: I’m not sure how well he would fit into the world of Arrow, but maybe Zachary Levi? I could see him bringing in some comedy. Plus, I miss Chuck.
CRAIG: I have a feeling if Levi’s doing anything soon, it’ll either be movies or as a lead. Though I’d always welcome him onto Arrow. At least as far as TV characters go, I could totally ship Chuck with Felicity Smoak.
Let’s narrow down even more, and focus on our titular character.
DOES GREEN ARROW, AS A CHARACTER, SEEM TO WORK BETTER IN LIVE ACTION THAN OTHERS, OR DOES HE FIT COMICS/ANIMATION BETTER?
CRAIG: I think he works very well in live action. The costume looks practical and not stupid (though I wish he’d have an actual mask and not face paint), and the bow and arrows have a good real-life application. I would say he works better for TV than I think he would in movies, because I think the character works well in a serialized manner. Though I could say that for many characters.
MATT: I think he works well for the simple reason that there isn’t necessarily anything fantastical about him. The trick arrows were the biggest question mark, yet so far they’ve been minimal and effective.
ANDY: I think Green Arrow has been working pretty well in live-action format just as well as in comics and animations. It would however be interesting to see if he would work in a movie.
MATT: Touching on Craig’s comment about the mask, I think the fact that he made and gave Helena a domino mask all but destroyed his rationale for going with the facepaint. I think it would work just fine and would take a much to apply as doing up the paint. I’d like to see an evolution of that.
DEREK: I think it was “Lone Gunmen” where Oliver is racing to stop Deadshot and puts on his costume, and yet still takes the time to put on the make-up, apparently. That took me out of it completely.
MATT: Having played around with military camo facepaint (and stage makeup) it really wouldn’t take that long to put it on. It wouldn’t be the polished “slapdash” look Ollie has on the show, but it could be done.
ANDY: I think it will [change] at some point, who knows, maybe his costume will go through a evolution or two as well. Not that I dislike the costume, I love it, I just say that it could happen.
STEPHANIE: Green Arrow works well in live action because there seems to be little that would look goofy in real life, such as superpowers or costume. I still find Spider-Man’s full body suit bizarre on screen. I like that they took Arrow to television instead of film because they can flesh out everything. The one thing I remember about the Green Lantern movie was that it was super short and semi-unengaging for those of us unfamiliar with his story.
DEREK: Yeah, Stephanie brings up a good point regarding the costume. A superficial reason GA works very well in live action is the very simple fact that his costume isn’t “iconic” to a detailed extent, like Superman’s or Spider-Man’s is. It’s already pretty vague (it’s green and maybe looks like Robin Hood are the basics) so it’s easy to tweak it slightly, feel more realistic, but still feel like Green Arrow. Whereas with Superman or Spider-Man, any alteration to the traditional design just never feels right, and the traditional design itself requires you to be okay with it looking goofy.
MATT: I think there are always going to be aspects of these characters that will always work better in animation, particularly in relation to the world around them. But I think GA works quite well in live-action. I know a lot of people complain about not having the Van Dyke goatee in live-action, but I like that this Ollie at least has facial hair. It works for the character. Amell’s athleticism also sells the believability of the character.
CRAIG: I think what Amell’s Oliver has counts as the Van Dyke.
MATT: Technically, it does. I still hear people clamoring for the big block blonde goatee.
CRAIG: That would look silly.
DEREK: I’m glad he has the stubble thing going on at least. It actually fits as a character choice, too. Ollie’s too…”dark” to shave every day.
STEPHANIE: I agree with what Matt said about Amell’s athleticism. Actually seeing him work out and shoot gives me a better sense of his abilities than one or two comic book frames.
MATT: I still have to hark back to the fact that Grell established all of this in comics back in the ’80s. He already dealt with the fact that the Robin Hood-esque GA look was silly and set out a more “realistic” version of the outfit, the attitude, and the world. And the show does a very strong job of recreating that. They had a lot of their work done as far as translating it, though.
While we’re on the subject of his looks…
WHICH LIVE ACTION SUIT DO YOU PREFER: SMALLVILLE’S OR ARROW’S?
CRAIG: Aside from the mask, Arrow‘s, by far. Although, I did think Justin’s costume was really cool when I first saw it in 2006… I just think it’s a bit too futuristic looking and not especially practical looking.
ANDY: The Smallville suit was comic book-y but still real-life adapted and worked so well, while Arrow looks so well adapted and practical in that world but it doesn’t look too comic book-y, but at the same time it has some of that feeling to it. However, if I only can pick one as my favorite or the one that I prefer the most, it’s Arrow for sure.
MATT: It took me a long while to get used to the abstract quality of Smallville‘s suit. It’s still not a fave, but I do actually have an odd sense of pride to see it pop up in the comics now and again. I definitely lean toward Arrow‘s version.
STEPHANIE: It looks like Smallville‘s version would be very difficult to move in and be impractical, although I do like that it is more noticeably green than Arrow‘s.
MATT: I also like the fact that Arrow has a bow that doesn’t collapse on itself and that they strictly use the bow. Even though the Hood has crossbow bolts on his forearms and used at least one in “Honor Thy Father,” he doesn’t appear to use a crossbow at all. That’s something he definitely shares with his comic counterpart. Smallville‘s Ollie seemed to exclusively use a crossbow for a long time there.
ANDY: He used one in “Year’s End” to stab the Dark Archer somewhere. But I agree, I think the last season [of Smallville] had him using the crossbow WAY TOO much.
DEREK: I’m glad there’s less crossbow use, too. I like crossbows, but there’s just a different kind of coolness factor when we see his skill with traditional bows and arrows.
MATT:I can remember not recognizing that the chest design on Smallville‘s suit was supposed to be arrow fletching. Appreciated it a bit more when I did. Hated when they dropped the green of the lower torso for the more black look.
DEREK: I like the Smallville design a lot, and it fit with what the show was trying to do (I didn’t mind the leather obsession it had at the time.) But Arrow‘s makes sense for the less comic-booky tone. Although, I will say that the Smallville version is more memorable. Like, if you were a kid watching it, there’s more things you could latch on to when you wanted to doodle pictures of it. With Arrow‘s suit, there isn’t much of a hook, other than there being a dark green outfit with a hood.
STEPHANIE: I would venture so far as to say that Arrow‘s costume is more of another wardrobe choice than a “costume.” Not that that’s a bad thing, it’s just less memorable, as Derek said.
CRAIG: On the bright side, Arrow‘s costume would be easier to duplicate… not that I’ve gone to the store to look for green hoodies or anything, no way…
DEREK: Yeah. It doesn’t mean it’s bad—like I said, Arrow‘s fits that universe and makes a whole lot more sense. But Smallville‘s suit is more whimsical and colorful, since the show was more comic book-y by the time he came on. I tend to prefer colorful and whimsical, so I think that’s why I’m more attached to the Smallville suit.
MATT: I like that the hood on Arrow‘s costume looks like it could be a removable piece from the leather jacket underneath. I think for purposes of the show, it’s sown in at the chest, but it has a practically made quality to it. My only problem with the “flash” of Smallville‘s suit is I was never a huge fan of the shade of green they went with. I would’ve preferred something a bit more kelly green than what they went with.
CRAIG: When I was at a press thing earlier this year, they had Justin’s costume on display and I dared the photographer to try to get a picture of Stephen with it. I don’t think the photographer found the notion as funny as I did. So Stephen, if you’re reading this, all I want for 2013 is a picture of you in front of Justin’s costume. And an Arrow poster. Thank you.
Let’s broaden the comparisons and have a little fun.
IF JUSTIN HARTLEY’S GREEN ARROW AND STEPHEN AMELL’S HOOD CROSSED UNIVERSES AND MET EACH OTHER, HOW WOULD THEY REACT (AND WHO WOULD WIN IN A FIGHT?)
MATT: I don’t think the Hood would suffer the fool.
CRAIG: Amell’s Arrow would shoot Hartley in the back because he’d be too busy kissing Chloe. Kidding.
ANDY: Well Hartley’s would probably throw some funny quips while Amell’s would stand there and laugh at Hartley’s suit (no disrespect to the suit.)
MATT: Hartley’s GA would probably treat Amell’s Hood much like he did Clark and Carter Hall. Look at them like they have sticks up their butts and need to joke a little.
CRAIG: The easy answer would be that Amell’s Arrow is more deadly; but Hartley’s was fairly smart, and would have some friends on call as backup if Amell tried anything. Catch my drift, amigo?
STEPHANIE: I almost think that Amell’s Arrow would be disappointed with Hartley’s Green Arrow, who seemed a lot less focused on a goal and kinda went with the flow.
CRAIG: “You’re about as stuffy as this other guy I know. Let me guess, you call girls on the phone with voice changers too, don’t you?”
ANDY: and then Amell’s Arrow pulls that voiceover from the recaps. “I was stranded on a island blah-blah”.
CRAIG: Amell’s Arrow would giggle at Justin’s costume.
DEREK: Then again, what Hartley lacked in well-versed fight choreography and deadliness, he makes up for in having more gadgets and such. Like…high-tech sunglasses.
ANDY: With a voice-changer!
MATT: Yeah, for all of the talk about Arrow “ripping” off Nolan’s Batverse, Hartley’s GA was definitely more of a Batman analog in his methods.
CRAIG: If Justin or Smallville‘s Justice League had spun off into their own show, we’d have the Arrowcopter by now.
To wrap this up…
WOULD YOU SAY STEPHEN AMELL IS NOW (OR ON THE ROAD TO BECOMING) THE “ICONIC” GREEN ARROW OF THIS GENERATION?
CRAIG: Sure. Everyone is someone’s favorite. The people who saw Justin first, he might be their GA, but either way, there are people who, when they think of Green Arrow, they’ll immediately think of Stephen.
ANDY: Is it OK to have multiple actors to a iconic character because to me, yes while Amell is definitely on his way of becoming the iconic Green Arrow, I still think that Hartley also did a iconic interpretation of the character and to me is also considered the GA of this generation, just as much as Amell is to me.
MATT: Ooh, that’s a toughy. I think he and the show are effective at the moment, but there’s not enough to say it will or won’t qualify for iconic status. I think we’ll have to see how the rest of this season shakes out to really start considering that. I agree with Craig, but I wouldn’t say that after 9 episodes there has been anything iconic or definitive yet.
STEPHANIE: I would say that he’s “on the road,” but it’s a long road. Depending on how long Arrow runs and how it turns out will determine how “iconic” he is considered. At this point, with all of the enthusiasm surrounding the show, it seems like a good shot.
MATT: Agreed. The potential is there.
CRAIG: I don’t know that you need a long run to be considered that iconic…John Wesley Shipp is always going to be The Flash to me. And, heck, when I see David Lyons on Revolution, I think “Hey look! It’s the Cape!”
MATT: Well, I wouldn’t call the Cape iconic. Recognized is a bit of a different thing.
STEPHANIE: True, Craig. But a longer run contributes to greater exposure, so even people who never watch the show would have the potential to see him as the iconic Arrow as more and more people broaden their scopes of viewing shows.
DEREK: One of the things that might prevent Amell from being THE definitive Green Arrow is the fact that I don’t think the show itself, as it is now, will be influential to the genre. Any of the big names we associate with superheroes are part of movies or TV shows that, even in slight ways, affected the adaptations that came after it. Arrow seems influenced BY a lot of stuff, and is creating a really great product because of it and using those elements to a decent extent. But I don’t feel like there’s anything it’s doing that’s particularly new or makes it stand out in the genre.
MATT: Absolutely concur. It’s turning into something well-told but hasn’t necessarily found a hook to claim its own. Yep. I totally agree with that.
ANDY: I think he has potential, it’s just that the show needs to get to that point, which I also think has potential, it has so far only been 9 episodes so there is plenty of time to get to the iconic part.
DEREK: Well, I think it’ll have to work for it. Smallville in concept already felt like something different and stood out even 9 episodes in, just because of the high school/teen soap aspect. Arrow needs to do some big things to make a splash.
MATT: It shouldn’t force it, though.
DEREK: That’s a good point. I’d rather it be a solid show that doesn’t make a huge impact than a weak show that everyone remembers for that one cool thing it did one time.
MATT: I look at something like Nikita. I wouldn’t say it does anything that is particularly genre-busting or flashy or has its own decisive hook. The one thing it does is tell a compelling story, doesn’t pull punches, and keeps things moving. Arrow can do something similar.
CRAIG: I think it’s still very possible that the show will make that impact in the future.
END OF PART THREE
That’s it for our foray into the touchy, fiery pit of superhero adaptations. Next week, we’ll pull focus back to the show itself and discuss what’s coming next, what we think is coming next, and what should come next. Then, maybe we’ll be prepared for Arrow‘s return from the hiatus with some fresh ideas and predictions. Until then, there’s still one more week of discussion to go, so stay tuned!
As always, feel free to share with us any questions, requests, or insights of you own in the comments section below. You’re also all welcomed to throw in your Arrow thoughts on our Arrow forum!