What We’re Watching Wednesday: Arrow

It was clear from the moment I saw the trailer for this superhero adaptation that I would have to watch it. I’ve not read the original series it’s based on so I can’t comment on how well it has been done, but I’m an archer and I’m also a big fan of Batman, so a tormented millionaire (Oliver Queen) who is secretive about his (traumatic, recent) past, becomes a hooded vigilante and takes out bad guys with a bow and arrow (while, simultaneously, being a kind of modern-day Robin Hood) was right up my street.

As an archer, I will pause here to note that the details aren’t great. Our hero is a bare-bow archer (meaning his bow has no counterweights, no sight, and nothing to make the business of hitting the target any easier) who makes shots that range from improbable to impossible. His bow is very small and very light (very sensible indeed for stunt archery, perfectly ridiculous for shooting bad guys with), and coupled with large, heavy arrows. The combination of the two mean that, in the real world, his arrows would plummet to the ground in a less than impressive manner. Irrespective of all of this, and his being a fictional character, I am deeply jealous of his perfect, often spectacular shots.

Archery gripes aside, so far (three episodes in) this is perfectly good light entertainment: we follow Oliver Queen as he picks up the threads of his old life, in which he was a billionaire jackass. Five years abandoned on an island has changed him, and given him a social conscience as well as ace ninja skills, but he quickly realises that he will have to pretend to be the same old jackass if he wants to protect his vigilante alter ego. This prompts a few entertaining moments as Oliver evades his own security team, escapes through bathroom windows and generally struts his ninja stuff, and it helps that the series has a sense of humour amongst all the do-gooding. It’s very timely to have a series whose hero takes on the heads of big corporations and insists that they repay those they’ve defrauded and compensate those they’ve taken advantage of. Perhaps Oliver Queen could visit the UK and have a chat with a few people about their taxes . . .

Alongside the narrative of righteous retribution, Oliver Queen has a dysfunctional family to put back together – a little sister, and a remarried mother – and a hidden conspiracy of corruption to unravel before the conspirators figure out who he is and bump him off. All terribly dramatic stuff.

If you’re looking for a superhero who’s half-way between Spiderman and Batman, and a little different to both, this is worth taking a look at. It’s not revolutionary, so far, but it is enjoyable and given a little time to develop could be a fab series. At the moment, for my tastes, it lacks depth and darkness, but it’s been set up with plenty of space to develop and some interesting avenues to explore.

A series to keep a sharp eye on, to be sure.