The CW has a hit on its hands with the darker-than-expected superhero series Arrow. And while it has been enjoying high ratings, due in part to the endless tide of cameos and guest appearances by several familiar faces in DC Universe, the show has raised questions amongst some regarding the fairly controversial decision to have Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) kill his adversaries in order to achieve his goals as a hero.
In a recent interview with SFX magazine, Amell tackles the issue head-on by saying that Oliver’s quest to clean up Starling City isn’t one that can be done without accruing what he calls “collateral damage.” That points to the more “grounded” aspect to the series that the show’s creators discussed early on, but what’s more interesting is the intimation that Arrow’s penchant for taking lives is intended to be seen as a character flaw; one, for the time being, that is born of necessity.
In the interview, Amell states:
“The central character of all the great shows on television, and I don’t list these names to draw comparisons, but as an example – Tony Soprano, Walter White, Don Draper – these are all incredibly flawed people that do regrettable things, terrible things, unforgivable things. But as long as they’re pursuing an overall goal, and as long as they engage the audience, that’s why those shows resonate. I’ve always wanted to play somebody who was unflinching, who set up for something and followed through with it. That’s why we have to kill people on the show, because he’s trying to clean up the city. To think that there wouldn’t be collateral damage, that would be farcical.”
One of the first real complaints about Arrow’s use of lethal force likely came in the episode ‘Lone Gunmen,’ which saw Oliver face off against the familiar DC villain Deadshot. Much of the episode was spent building toward the inevitable showdown between the two, and after a small amount of fisticuffs, Oliver put Deadshot down with an arrow through the assassin’s trademark eyepiece. Even then, though, the complaint wasn’t so much about Oliver crossing some kind of moral line in the sand, but rather about the somewhat anti-climatic showdown.
Well, as it turns out, Oliver’s arrows may not be as lethal as we think. Recently, writer and executive producer Andrew Kreisberg made this not-so-cryptic statement regarding Deadshot’s supposed demise: “I didn’t see him put in a body bag. So…” According to Kreisberg, the television equivalent of “pic or it didn’t happen,” mixed with the long-standing rule that no death in comics is forever, suggests there’s a slight chance Arrow and Deadshot will be crossing paths sometime in the future. If he does return, let’s hope Deadshot remembers to duck next time.
Many fans have already pointed out that while some of the methods Oliver has used to dispatch his enemies (such as the neck-breaking maneuver he utilized in the pilot episode) have been harsher than expected, the Oliver Queen from the comics isn’t necessarily harboring serious reservations about taking an enemy’s life. At any rate, as indicated by Amell’s comments, it seems as though the notion of a hero who kills wasn’t an arbitrary one, but rather an issue the writers intended to explore at a certain point in the series.
Recently, Oliver’s bodyguard-turned-partner, John Diggle (David Ramsey), referred to Oliver as a murderer, and later addressed his intention of helping to lower the bad guy body count in Starling City. With Diggle on the case, perhaps we will be seeing less “collateral damage” in future episodes of Arrow.
Follow along with Screen Rant as we review the first season of Arrow, which airs Wednesday nights @8pm on The CW.