Who Are The Ninth Circle? Arrow Season 7's Real Villains Explained

Adrian Paul as Dante in Arrow Season 7 with Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen

Who are the Ninth Circle and what role have they played in the events of Arrow season 7? Many fans who are unfamiliar with the Green Arrow comics may be wondering who season 7's big bad villains truly are, as one of the series' smaller subplots has grown to dominate nearly every aspect of the central storyline. This, in turn, has signaled big things for the future of the Arrowverse.

This sudden shift in power became readily apparent after Arrow season 7, episode 15, "Training Day". It was here that Arrow season 6's chief villain, crime-boss Ricardo Diaz, was confirmed to have been killed by the new Green Arrow, Emiko Queen. This revelation came after it had been revealed that Emiko was in the employ of the mysterious financier known only as Dante, who had been backing Diaz's efforts to take over Star City for the past year. Dante had also been the target of an ARGUS investigation for several months but has enough power within the Pentagon and the Department of Defense to shoot down any efforts to bring him to justice through traditional channels.

Related: Theory: Arrow Season 7's Real Villains Are In The Present And Future

While the name of the Ninth Circle has yet to be spoken on Arrow, the influence of the sinister group (which is also led by a man named Dante) is apparent to fans of the comics that inspired Arrow season 7's story. In the end, the Ninth Circle may become Arrow season 7 and potentially Arrow season 8's big bad villains, as Stephen Amell's story as Oliver Queen starts to wind down. But just who are the Ninth Circle to begin with?

The Ninth Circle In The Comics

Green Arrow vs The Ninth Circle

Despite being only recently introduced into the Green Arrow comics in 2016, the Ninth Circle have quickly grown into an essential part of the series' mythology. Created by writer Benjamin Percy, with character designs by artists Otto Schmidt and Juan Ferreyra, the Ninth Circle were the primary villains of Percy's run on Green Arrow, which lasted for 38 issues. Produced as part of the DC Rebirth initiative, the long-running storyline was considered  a welcome return to form after years of uneven stories by most Green Arrow fans.

The Ninth Circle were a secret cabal of bankers and captains of industry, built around the belief that any act can be justified so long as it creates wealth and power for the elite. This included such social ills as selling illegal drugs and slavery. Led by a mystery man known only as Dante, the Ninth Circle further mocked the ideas of good and evil as absolutes, naming their organization after the worst part of Hell as depicted in the narrative poem The Divine Comedy and adopting costumes based on Satanic imagery for their meetings.

To that end, The Ninth Circle acts as a bank for terrorists and supervillains, offering them the same financial services as a traditional bank but for nontraditional reasons. Suppose you are a would-be despot who needs money to raise an army and buy weapons to force your will on an unstable region? Or perhaps you're a mad scientist working on a super-soldier serum who needs help building a secret lab without FDA regulations or laws against kidnapping test subjects? The Ninth Circle is there to lend a helping hand with your funding in exchange for a cut of the profits.

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The Ninth Circle proved to be the perfect foil for Green Arrow, presenting a conspiracy that Oliver Queen was all but helpless to fight against directly. The battle became doubly personal for Oliver after he learned that his ancestor, Robin Queen, was the Ninth Circle's first leader and that they intended to make his sister Emiko part of their organization. By manipulating politicians and law enforcement against him even as they took control of his company, the Ninth Circle helped to reestablish Green Arrow as a modern day Robin Hood, fighting for the rights of the common people against a corrupt authority.

The Ninth Circle In Arrow Season 7

Arrow Dante and Emiko Queen

ARGUS Director Lyla Michaels and her husband John Diggle spent most of Arrow season 7 tracking a mysterious group that seemed to be funding various terrorist organizations around the world. Their first lead regarding this group and the identity of their leader came in Arrow season 7, episode 5, "The Demon," where ARGUS uncovered an encrypted image of a painting by artist Jean-Léon Gérôme, Dante (He Hath Seen Hell), among the personal files of a black market arms dealer. This image was later discovered to be used as an e-signature/calling card by a figure who was acting as an agent for various mercenary groups and criminal enterprises around the world.

With their bosses at the Pentagon forbidding any direct investigation into the image, Diggle sought an indirect route after discovering that the recently incarcerated Ricardo Diaz had dealt with this "Dante" in the past. This led to Diggle reactivating Task Force X (aka the Suicide Squad) under a new name - the Ghost Initiative - and recruiting Diaz and several other incarcerated super-criminals to act as undercover agents in seeking out Dante. Unfortunately, it turned out that ARGUS Deputy Director Bell was part of Dante's organization and was able to tip off one of Dante's agents, a man named Virgil, about what Diggle was planning.

Related: Arrow Theory: [SPOILER] Isn't Really Dead

The end result of the investigation was that John Diggle was removed from his position at ARGUS, taking the blame for the failure of the mission so as to save his wife's job and allow her to continue their investigation in secret. Deputy Director Bell was killed by Dante in a bid to cover his tracks as he made his escape from the ambush ARGUS had set for him. Dante later revealed himself to Emiko Queen, who had apparently been in his employ at some point in the past (as revealed in Arrow season 7, episode 14), and instructed her to kill Ricardo Diaz once he was back in prison. All of this has established just how far Dante's influence reaches, though his prior relationship with Emiko Queen has yet to be explained.

Page 2 of 2: Arrow's Version Of The Ninth Circle & Their Arrowverse Future

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