Arrow – first episode on target

I love comic book characters and their stories. Before most of you stop reading, I’m not a fan of actual comics and I don’t care if they’re DC or Marvel (to be honest, I can never keep track of who’s DC and who’s Marvel anyway). As a child I watched the ‘Superman’ films starring Christopher Reeve and I used to get up early to watch various versions of Spiderman (and even Spiderwoman – remember her?) cartoons on a Saturday morning. As I grew up comic book characters got darker and edgier, essentially growing-up with me, which is brilliant as  it’s now cool to watch a Batman (sorry, ‘Dark Knight’) film.

This evening I caught up with the latest television incarnation of the Green Arrow, Sky’s new ‘Arrow’ series. It’s clearly influenced by the very successful recent ‘Batman Begins’ etc and, to a lesser extent, the Tobey Maguire ‘Spiderman’ trilogy. The hero, billionaire playboy Oliver Queen, returns from five years living like Robinson Crusoe (but with better weapons and a six-pack) and vows to clean up his city. He plays the playboy by day and dons a mask at night, after fashioning weapons in his cave abandoned factory (so far, so Batman). He warns off his ex-girlfriend (Mary-Jane Watson Laurel Lance) because he knows that she’ll get hurt and after all, as Uncle Ben tells Peter Parker, “with great power, comes great responsibility”.

These clichés (if you don’t like them) or tropes (if you think that familiarity with the devices associated with a particular genre can add to your enjoyment) have so far been played straight, but I’m hoping for some subversion or inversion to take this programme into new territory. One step in that direction is that this (anti)hero is willing to kill to protect his identity, establishing a significant grey area in his morality.

Okay, it’s silly and it’s far-fetched but so far the writers have managed to keep within the realms of possibility (by escapist fantasy standards). I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I don’t like the voice-overs explaining Queen’s motives and plans but hopefully they’ll be curtailed once the back-story is established. I know a little bit about the Green Arrow mythology, which isn’t necessary to follow this programme, but it does add another layer of intrigue as several minor characters have very familiar names. Waiting to see how the writers use them is one aspect that will keep me interested.  I’ll let you know if I’m still watching in a few weeks time…


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