If there’s one thing DC Comics has become good at, it’s recycling green.
While the Green Lantern has seen a rise in his rank, DC has seen a rise in the popularity of another of its color-themed heroes: Green Arrow — thanks to the success of the TV show “Arrow,” which airs Wednesday nights on The CW.
“Arrow” executive producer Andrew Kreisberg, who also has written the character for DC Comics, notes that though the show is still new, Oliver Queen/Arrow benefited from having an audience before Kreisberg became involved with the character. Green Arrow had a successful run as a character on “Smallville,” he said. “It was proof that the character had life to him.”
Fanboys can be the life support — or death — of a superhero property. Stray too much from the source material, or create something too campy, and digital riots erupt. Many producers, however, don’t presume that’s the only audience that they’re writing for.
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Kreisberg says the key to “Arrow’s” success is the diversity of its audience.
“When we tested the pilot, there was only one person on the testing that knew that (Oliver) was the same character from ‘Smallville,’ ” Kreisberg says. “One of the things that’s most thrilling for us is that we’ve got 14-year-old kids who say it’s their favorite show, 20-year-old women who are excited by it.”
“Arrow” is a mix of new ideas and the origins that took shape in DC’s Green Arrow comic books. Many elements of the comic books are reflected in the show: Oliver Queen, the billionaire playboy (lots of those in the DC Universe), spent years stranded on an island where he picked up archery.
Yet the show has a 21st-century feel, and Oliver is a lot younger — and a lot less frequent with the jokes.
Kriesberg says, “We designed (Oliver) as a character a little more tortured” than the comic-book character.
One of “Arrow’s” most intriguing aspects is the performance of Stephen Amell, who plays Queen. Amell is believable as a one-man army who has the strength, will and determination to rid his city of crime, “one arrow at a time.”
Yet it’s the flashbacks that “Arrow” provides — of Queen’s time on the island — that provide the show with some of its best moments. In these flashbacks, Queen is a selfish, spoiled, ungrateful weakling of a man — to the point where viewers would be hard-pressed to believe that the man who crashed onto the island is also the hero who left it.
As is always the case with comic-book properties, interest in the source material follows after they’re successfully adapted in another form. For fans of “Arrow” who want to see the character in his comic-book form, DC Comics offers two options:
1. A weekly digital-only comic written by “Arrow’s” producers that connects each episode and is literally the show in comic-book form; and:
2. The New 52 version of Green Arrow that provided a new, younger take on Oliver Queen before “Arrow” made its screen debut.
Although the New 52 and television versions of Green Arrow might seem as if they were intended to resemble each other, new Green Arrow writer Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth, “Essex County”) says that was not the intention.
“I actually started working on the comic a couple of months before the TV show premiered,” Lemire tells Comic Riffs. “So, I was aware that it was coming, and that the advance buzz was great.
“In general, it added to the excitement of the assignment for me. Just the fact that the character would have much more awareness in the public eye was great for us on the comic side, as well.”