PUBLISHED 14 Feb 2017
ARROW might seem an unusual choice to lead the way for superhero television adaptations as Green Arrow is not the most well-known DC hero. That title would fall to someone like Superman or Batman - but this may be what gives ARROW an edge. Its critical success and positive reception from fans are worth noting when looking at how it has managed to surpass 100 episodes, while still remaining one of the most entertaining superhero shows currently on television.
One of the problems with the modern superhero genre is that it is becoming predictable. For example, the formulaic first episode of a new superhero series in the form of an origin story, this is where Arrow has managed to challenge those expectations and defy superhero stereotypes from the very beginning. Within the first minute of the Pilot, Oliver (Stephen Amell) is a hero. He is the Green Arrow and he knows exactly what he is going to use his arrows for: he is going to get revenge.
We are not totally left out when it comes to his origin story though. It is told to the audience in flashbacks. We see that Oliver was once shipwrecked. Each episode contains an allegory of a lesson that he learned during the five years that he was stranded. These flashback parables may include: information on the people he meets, the skills he has learn that helped him become the Green Arrow, or his plan to escape the island. For example, Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett) or ‘Deathstroke’ is introduced in the flashbacks of series one and then becomes the main villain of series two. It is a unique storytelling device as it develops the show in small segments, giving the audience a reason to come back each week to learn more.
The superhero ensemble depicted in ARROW is as successful as its unique storytelling devices. Introduced in the first episode is Oliver’s bodyguard Diggle (David Ramsey). Once Diggle learns who Oliver truly is and what he is trying to achieve, Diggle stands by Oliver and offers his assistance in saving the city. But these are not the only characters worth celebrating as many others end up joining the Green Arrow on his mission. Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) is another character who deserves recognition as his persona aligns well with another entertaining aspect of the show: the constantly shifting allegiances. One minute Malcom Merlyn might be helping the team, a few episodes down the line and you learn of his villainous betrayal. He has saved Oliver’s sister Thea Queen (Willa Holland) on many occasions but has also revealed some of Oliver’s most important secrets to his enemies. ARROW constantly defies expectations and narrative tropes of the superhero genre; audiences are unlikely to ever see the twists coming.
ARROW is currently on its to way to finishing a fifth season and has already been renewed for a sixth. As the show continues past its 100th episode, it will hopefully persist in its defiance of the superhero genre. Along with this, the ensemble of characters that creates Team Arrow will continue to be one the best superhero teams currently on television due to the unique nature of their dynamic.