Translating a character from a comic book to anything else can be a bit tricky. If someone’s making the big jump and going from comic to live action, anything is possible, from something amazing like Christopher Reeve’s Superman or Robert Downey, Jr’s Iron Man, to something a bit lacking, like Halle Berry’s Catwoman or X-Men Origins: Wolverine. So, I had mixed feelings when I heard that the CW, former home of Smallville, was starting a new hero-based live action show based on a character I’ve always really liked: DC Comics’ Green Arrow.
As I learned more, and saw a few images and trailers, I saw both some good things and bad. Seemingly random changes are frequently a sign of something bad coming (Jonah Hex, the tv show Birds of Prey), and there are several right off the bat. Green Arrow has been the defender of Star City since the 40′s in various incarnations, and now it’s suddenly “Starling City.” Oliver Queen, Green Arrow’s secret ID, has always been on his own, and suddenly has a mother and a sister. Heck, they’re not even calling him Green Arrow, both character and show are simply “Arrow.”
That last change I’ve heard a rumor about and I’ll recount it here. Recent superhero outings at the movies that have had less than stellar box office returns include Green Hornet and Green Lantern. The theory I heard was the “green” adjective leading in was now more or less box office poison, and so they changed the name to just “Arrow.” I have no idea if that’s true, but it’s at least semi-plausible.
On the good side, I’ve seen images and read articles that make it look like some other characters I’ve always liked will show up. Dinah Lance, better known in the comics as Black Canary, has long been Ollie’s big love interest. They’ve cast someone as Dinah, so hopefully a version of Canary will be forthcoming. I’ll be doing a separate piece later on Canary’s triumphs and failures in video over the years. Other characters of interest include “Tommy Merlyn,” no doubt some variation on GA’s biggest recurring foe, Merlyn; Jessica De Gouw as the Huntress (in some realities, Batman’s daughter AND one of Black Canary’s best friends), and Michael Rowe as Deadshot. There’s also a teaser in the trailer of the mask worn by Deathstroke, one of DC Comic’s most fearsome mercenary characters.
On the actor end, there are some names I know and am happy to hear. John Barrowman, perhaps best known (at least in some circles) as Captain Jack Harkness of Torchwood and Dr. Who will have a recurring role, yet to be revealed. Paul Blackthorne, who made an amusing Harry Dresden, will be Detective Quentin Lance, Dinah’s father. And Kelly Hu will be playing “China White.” I admit, I’m not sure who that’s supposed to be, but any excuse to watch Kelly Hu is a good thing in my book.
As I write this, Arrow debuts this evening. I’m looking forward to it, and will have a detailed review of the pilot as soon as I can.