The importance of the CW's "Arrow"

Why the CW's take on the Emerald Archer must succeed...

Here’s an interesting question: if the WB’s Smallville had not been based on an established superhero character like Clark Kent/Superman, would anyone have watched it? Would it have ever made it to ten seasons on the air? Imagine Tom Welling not playing a young Clark Kent but instead some original teenage character from space with superpowers. Does anyone honestly think it would have been anywhere near as successful?

Despite the fact that Smallville had a small yet loyal following and a large and sometimes loud group of haters, it did do one thing that cannot be denied: it continuously kept the DC Comics character of Superman in the collective consciousness of the public. Due to Smallville’s very “CW-ish” style of teen drama storytelling, the Superman mythos (however much adapted or diluted) were introduced to people who would never normally have any interest in comic book super heroics. Fans (usually female) of shows like FOX’s The O.C., the CW’s One Tree Hill, and the WB’s Dawson’s Creek were unusually drawn to a show about Superman, and the token singular action scene in every episode of Smallville helped to rope males and comic book fans in as well.

Now, the CW has introduced a similar concept in the form of their primetime action/drama Arrow, which has aired the first half of its first season to a generally positive critical response and favorable ratings. Like with Smallville, the CW has injected a fair level of “teen drama” into the Emerald Archer’s new adventures, but it has also learned from past mistakes and has maintained a generally high level of action and crime drama. I consider myself to be a fan of Arrow, but I’ve come across a fairly large amount of people who dislike the show for one reason or another, or have decided not to even give it a chance in fear that it’s just a Smallville clone. Thus, here is my message to any comic book fan: GIVE ARROW A CHANCE!

I will be the first to admit, it’s not the best show on television (AMC’s The Walking Dead takes that prize as far as I’m concerned), but it does have some cool entertainment to offer; even if sometimes it does feel a little like a Batman Begins rip-off. What’s great about Arrow is that, even though the showrunners have decided to include some typical teen drama tropes (love triangle between protagonist, his ex-flame, and his best friend), it has become clear throughout the first half of this season that arrow-shooting and crime fighting are the real stars of the show. What I find most interesting about Arrow is that it seems to be doing for the Green Arrow what Marvel’s Iron Man did for good old Shellhead (on an admittedly smaller scale). Many people (including myself) knew close to nothing about the character of the Green Arrow, but are starting to gain more interest in learning more due to the entertainment value of the show. Before Arrow debuted, I really felt like the Green Arrow did not need to be included in the Justice League film due to hit theaters in 2015, but now I’m thinking that he’s a necessity.

“Green Arrow is too similar to The Avengers’ Hawkeye.” “Mainstream moviegoers will see Green Arrow and immediately think of the Justice League film as an Avengers rip-off. “ I’ve heard the many reasons why so many people think Green Arrow should not be included in the cinematic Justice League roster, but I think I can easily see it being a hugely successful choice. First of all, I would make sure that there is absolutely no marketing displaying that the character appears in the film until after it has already premiered (this would keep the mainstream audience from drawing blind comparisons). Secondly, I would try to find some way of explaining his deserted island origin, as this is the most major of differences between Green Arrow and Hawkeye. Third, I would make sure to show that Green Arrow is not somewhat of an agent/assassin for hire (like Hawkeye’s relationship with Shield) but as a vigilante crime fighter who can do things on his own. After all, both characters have extensive histories in their respective source materials and are therefore vastly different characters. So why can’t general audiences discern one badass archer from another?

So, here is not only the biggest difference between Smallville and Arrow, but the biggest reason for Arrow’s importance: it’s giving some spotlight to a comic book character by actually presenting him in a context that is at once appealing to mainstream audiences, AND is faithful enough to its source material to please comic book fans. Arrow’s Oliver Queen doesn’t spend most of every episode pining for Laurel Lance like Clark Kent did with Lana Lang; he spends much more time not only beating up criminals, but ACTUALLY WEARING A COSTUME! Arrow is not the story of how Oliver Queen becomes the Green Arrow; it IS the story of the Green Arrow. So, what I urge to any potential viewer who is on the fence about Arrow is this: keep in mind that if the CW’s Arrow becomes even more of a hit, it will prompt the decision makers to possibly give another comic book character a chance on the small screen. Despite Arrow actually being a good show, watching it may provide a chance for a different live action superhero to make it to the small screen. If a show about the Green Arrow can achieve relatively high ratings (for the CW), imagine how much money a Batman show could reel in.

Which comic book character(s) would you like to see on the small screen? With the high price of good special effects, which characters would even be economically viable for a network to produce? Give your ideas in the comments section below!
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