From the hilariously epic Deadpool to the long awaited clash of the DC titans Batman Vs Superman it is safe to say that on the nerd calendar, 2016 has officially been the year of the superhero! It is not just the big screen that is crowded with capes. In the last few years fans of the Marvel and DC universes have been treated to so many superhero shows we’re quite frankly wondering how there are even any villains left to fight (whether or not the trend has been blown out of proportion is a discussion for another day…by someone who isn’t loving it!) Each series to date has starred a variety of talented actors who have managed to make fan favourites leap off the page and capture our imaginations all over again. This is thanks to story lines that demand weekend binge watch after binge watch (thank goodness for my lack of a social life).
I would like to focus on a series I recently completed after 3 months of having it on my DVD shelf, tipping away at a few episodes whenever I could (a little thing called the UCC BA degree was constantly occupying my time. Have any of you ever had that problem?) I speak of course of the CW’s 2012 release that set the ball rolling; before The Flash zoomed onto our screens and before Supergirl swooped in to save the day, Arrow proved itself to be the series comic book fans deserved and the one they needed (see I went with a reference rather than an old pun about the show hitting the mark).
The series retells the story of “Oliver Queen”: a playboy billionaire turned costumed vigilante on a mission protect his city from the crime and corruption that have taken it over and avenge the tragic death of a parent (does any of this sound familiar?) Yes I must admit that I initially dismissed the series and its protagonist, believing it to be just another “discount Batman” but that opinion was quickly discarded once I was basically hooked after the first episode (bullseye CW!)
The well-paced story with a variety of subplots keeps the viewer guessing, while film quality action and nods to the comic book source materials keeps the hungry inner geek satisfied. The Green Arrow’s origin story has been thoroughly fleshed out in order to explore the development of Queen’s character from entitled rich kid to masked avenger through flashback scenes, adding a new piece to the puzzle as each episode progresses. Like many avid viewers I always enjoy a character with a complex backstory and this technique makes you keep watching, with suspense filled cliff hangers by the quiver full. The earlier episodes focus on establishing Starling City’s new defender with the classic “villain of the week” structure. “The Arrow” takes on everything from mob bosses to drug dealers to greedy business tycoons, as well as several interesting members of the DC comics “rogues gallery” reimagined to suit the believability that really gives this first season its charm; Deadshot, Firefly, The Huntress, Count Vertigo and of course Deathstroke all make appearances.
It has been said that a recurring problem that drags down the quality of many superhero productions is poor casting. I can happily say that Arrow didn’t slip up once. Leading man in the green hood Stephen Amell is strong in every scene, whether he’s sticking an arrow in some bad guy’s face or partying with the rich as the hero’s alter ego. He is joined by an equally enjoyable cast; I was particularly excited about seeing Doctor Who favourite, “Captain Jack Harkness” himself: John Barrowman take on the role of the series main antagonist “Malcolm Merlyn” and never once did I even see traces of the Timelord’s immortal companion in the ruthless villain. Emily Bett Rickards steals hearts as lovable computer geek/sidekick “Felicity Smoak” while the role of “Slade Wilson/Deathstroke” is cast perfectly as Manu Bennett, a man used to handling swords from his time as gladiator “Crixus” in the Spartacus franchise is chosen to wear the super soldier’s mask.
To conclude it is clear to see why this first series blazed the trail for the many superhero titles that have been gracing T.V. and Netflix in recent years. Highly recommended to both fans of costumed comic crusaders and anyone who is simply hungry for a gripping action adventure series. I have in fact already purchased the rest of the boxsets, with high expectations that Arrow will never miss.