The fight against crime facing a young Oliver Queen in The CW's Arrow is only getting harder, with the series adding a new villain every week. For once, it looks like Green Arrow may have some assistance coming his way - and from a hero who will be very familiar to comic book fans.
Two months after it was announced he'd be leaving MTV's Teen Wolf series, Colton Haynes has been cast as Roy Harper, the original Green Arrow sidekick, 'Speedy.' Yet another young actor seeing the potential in getting in early with DC and Warner Bros.? Who knows. What we do know is that Arrow's writers have an interesting task ahead of them, fitting Haynes into the fiction.
The surprise casting announcement (courtesy of EW) comes with Arrow executive producer Greg Berlanti explaining that the showrunners had noticed Haynes' work on Teen Wolf, and are happy to add him to the cast (as are the show's female viewers). Little is known about what version of the character Haynes will be playing, but The CW's brief origin describes him as as "a handsome, street-savvy, teenager from 'the Glades,' the harsh, poverty-stricken portion of Starling City."
Those who have been watching Stephen Amell's turn as Oliver Queen from the beginning will recognize the name 'Speedy' as the teasing moniker of his younger sister Thea (Willa Holland), used more than once and by more than Oliver. That name drop was one reason comic book fans assumed that the TV series would be reinventing Green Arrow's sidekick yet again, cutting out Roy Harper's role and foreshadowing Thea's future decision to join her big brother's crusade.
Now that Haynes has been cast as Roy Harper (minus his adopted Navajo upbringing and archery skills) those doors have been blown wide open. Arrow's new 'mean streets' version of Harper is reportedly set to become a love interest for Thea - and is "destined to become a significant part of her life and an important player in the larger world of Arrow." The connection between Harper and Thea (a.k.a. Speedy) implies that some elements of the comic book fiction might remain. And for those who know Roy Harper, the opportunity is there for the show's writers to finally take things to a very dark place.
Once the happy-go-lucky sidekick Speedy, Harper is among the first roster of DC's Teen Titans who grew up to become very different heroes, and oftentimes, troubled ones. Speedy himself fell into a now-famous heroin addiction, yet another reason we assumed Thea's drug problem signaled a new take on the sidekick. From there Harper recovered, changed his name to Arsenal and added guns and knives to his repertoire, before fathering a child and losing his right arm.
When DC Comics rebooted the Justice League in 2007 in the aftermath of the "Infinite Crisis," it was Roy, not Oliver that the League came to call upon, cementing Roy's role as one of the main DC heroes. Harper's final moniker came as a tribute to his adopted father's legacy and tutelage, modeling his own costume after Queen's and taking the new title of Red Arrow. DC's New 52 has re-cast Roy as a ball-capped, tattooed, scraggly-haired Arsenal once again, although largely retaining the costume of Red Arrow.
With that history in mind, the writers of Arrow have plenty of territory to explore - perhaps hinted at by the Queen heiress already. It's possible that Thea's character work so far will help introduce this incarnation of Roy, perhaps as Thea's drug dealer who Oliver helps get back on the straight-and-narrow. Viewers will have to wait until well after the midseason break to find out, but the camaraderie and teamwork angle of Ollie and his sidekick Diggle (David Ramsey) has shown serious promise. Adding another archer would be even better.
With a newly cast Deathstroke the Terminator, a well-executed Huntress and more cameos planned, comic book fans are in for a treat. And, if the ratings boost brought by Deathstroke is a sign of things to come, the showrunners are as well.
Which version of Roy Harper do you hope to see? Is Arrow ready to take on such a key figure within the show's fiction, or should more groundwork be laid before venturing into these chapters of Oliver Queen's life? Sound off in the comments.
Arrow goes into hiatus following tonight's midseason finale, ‘Year’s End’ @8pm on The CW. Check out a preview below:
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