Friday, October 12, 2012

Arrow – Another Dark Knight
Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen/Arrow; CW; Wednesdays 8/7c
I suppose it was only a matter of time until the superhero universe once again made a bid for TV viewership. Past attempts have proven fatal (dare I mention Wonder Woman). But seeing as how Christopher Nolan's Batman exited the screen leaving the fans yearning for more, the CW has decided to capitalize on our love for the dark anti-hero. Enter Green Arrow – or as CW has reimagined him – Arrow.

Now, I will readily acknowledge that I don't avidly read comic books (sorry). I am one of those fans that enter the comic universe via film. However, I have yet to commit to a superhero TV show since watching reruns of Lou Ferrigno's The Incredible Hulk. But after being bombarded by billboard after billboard of a shirtless hunk holding an arrow, I decided to give Arrow a chance.

I am not yet sure if that chance has paid off.

What I both like and dislike about Arrow is its use of reliable stock characters, even though here they seem like recycled copies from other successful ventures. The billionaire playboy turned vigilante. The out-for-justice but by-the-books love interest.  The friend who begins to suspect the truth. The parent who may or may not be the villain. The tortured cop who must hunt down the vigilante despite the fact said vigilante is doing "good."

Yawn. This was all done rather well in Batman Begins. But I have come to find that comics, too, tend to copy one another. Green Arrow was a response to the popularity of Batman. Green Arrow is a royal Robin Hood operating under the cover of night – a great companion for those who responded to Batman's dark mythology. Except CW's Arrow seems to enjoy killing the bad guys. That aspect of his character actually turned me off. I liked Batman's moral conscience. After all, killing makes you equal to the bad guys, not above them.

Nope, not Tom Hanks
CW also missed an opportunity to build Arrow's driving purpose. We really have to begin as a character straight out of Castaway? I have seen this before, CW! So if you want to remind me of how five years of isolated island living can change a man, then at least throw in Wilson.

But the regurgitation aside, the reason this superhero formula works is that the formula itself is a strong piece of storytelling. A boy who becomes a man, who then seeks to right past wrongs, is always riveting. And I like that the theme is not revenge, but atonement. So there's hope here. I just hope the show can veer into new territory with Arrow – not keep revisiting scenarios I have already seen play out countless times on the big screen. This is a show, not a movie. So let's hope that Arrow can steer us into some uncharted waters.

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