Panel Discussion: Hitting the Mark


By James

There is something about the show Arrow that really appeals to me. The dialogue is cheesy, the plot predictable, the stakes too low. And yet, there is something fairly addictive about the show that gets me to watch and rewatch episodes. I went through the same sort of fascination with the show The Cape, but in the end, that intrigue faded when the show was canceled. There is something about the concept of a superhero story told through television that I really enjoy. The concept of a serialized story medium appeals to my sensibilities and schedule. The format is conducive to that of comics themselves, complete with the one villain per story and the cliffhanger endings. And I think that that’s underrated.

Recently, there have been quite a few superhero films in theaters. Captain America, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Avengers, Thor, the list goes on and on. It has become an imperative to release superhero movies on almost a bimonthly basis now. In television, the number of comic adaptations is surprisingly low. Arrow and Smallville are among a very small list of non-animated shows adapted from comics. Rather than focusing on a particular chapter of a character’s life, a movie chooses to focus on the growth and development over the course of a particular chapter of that character’s life. With a television series, the story that we see is more clear and complete. Although it takes more time for a television series to start and stop, and to remind the audience of the previous adventures, the result is closer to the comic format that I have come to know and love. The subtle references to characters and events within the larger DC continuum are huge reasons why I continue to watch Arrow. The self-referential characters, the small links to the larger universe, everything else adds to the comic book style that it borrows so heavily from.

Even though I don’t particularly enjoy origin stories, Arrow does the job properly. Starting with the relatively unknown hero Oliver Queen, the show even explains how he developed his archery skills brilliantly. In much the same way that the Christopher Nolan Batman series started a gritty take on that particular franchise, Arrow creates a strong new take on a character, albeit a less popular one than Batman. The result is a movement into a brand new type of story. Relatively unknown characters are given a new life. This is a trait that I would love to see with Ant-Man, Marvel’s size-changing super hero. To serialize such a witty, real character gives the franchise a chance to appeal to a new audience. Although I am sure that director Edgar Wright will do a fantastic job with this movie, I think that the best medium for comics has now emerged.