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Arrow TV Show Premiere Review: The CW Puts its Best Bow Forward

A young man from a very wealthy family has a traumatic experience and takes up life as a vigilante on a never-ending quest for justice. Welcome to Gotham, Starling City; home of CW’s Arrow, or, as he is known in the pilot, “a nutbar in a green hood.” The story is set thus: young, rich playboy Oliver Queen is shipwrecked, along with his father and the younger sister of his girlfriend who don’t survive the wreck, and lives for five years on a deserted island, where he perfects some amazing gymnastic and archery skills. When he is finally rescued he returns home filled with a desire for vengeance against those who have wronged his city (it is not clear exactly how they have done this yet), and a plan for how to get back at them.

Despite the Batman parallels, including returning home to find that his ex-girlfriend has become a lawyer fighting for the little guy, Arrow actually does have a few significant differences from Gotham’s dark knight (besides being less rights restricted, I mean). For one thing, there’s a reason the Green Arrow of the comics has traditionally worn an outfit reminiscent of Robin Hood, and TV’s Oliver Queen looks like he’ll be taking on similar themes: when a corrupt businessman is robbed at arrow-point, he tells the police, “I’m not some grocer who got taken for his register. I go to the front of the line.”

So far, it looks like CW is setting up Arrow as a fighter for the disenfranchised. I don’t find his motives entirely convincing at this point, given that the man we have seen on screen only has experience as a castaway and a party boy, unless a weak parallel between Oliver’s father closing his steel plant, and the general fall in standards of living counts, but it’s pretty timely to see a super hero working against the corporate fat cats, rather than being one of them. By the end of the pilot we find that Arrow is willing to go to great lengths to share the wealth around.

Altogether, I am pretty optimistic about the show. There’s corporate intrigue and shadowy bad guys, there are corrupt businessmen getting what they deserve, and the show’s lead actor, Stephan Amell, is convincingly menacing to both his enemies and to unduly curious bystanders. The action scenes are dynamic and flashily choreographed, and surprisingly fatal for a superhero show. The stage is set for some growing tensions as the series progresses, with Oliver’s sister, nicknamed Speedy, falling in with a bad crowd, dark hints about the nature of the family business, and a hit list that could be the length of a small black book.

Green Arrow has been a fixture of DC comics for a long time, including successful parts in the popular Justice League, unlimited cartoon, and in the long running series Smallville. If the 4 million people who tuned in for the premiere are any indication, Green Arrow has a good chance of standing on his own.

Full Arrow Trailer Here: 

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