It seems like just yesterday that the pilot episode of The CW's Arrow was drawing to a close, having established its star Stephen Amell as a fitting version of the secretive, tormented Oliver Queen set on clearing Star City of its criminal conspiracies. And as his leading lady walked off into the night, he called after her with the name "Dinah Laurel Lance" - and fans everywhere felt their hearts skip a beat, knowing that in their future lay a long run of Green Arrow and the Black Canary fighting side by side, and falling in love, just as the comics always told.
Except... that wasn't in the cards. At least, not as fans imagined. In fact, it would be in the introduction of a brand new Black Canary that wedged itself between Oliver and Laurel, before the runaway success of third-stringer Felicity Smoak among the fan base saw her take on a larger role and, eventually, romance. Hopes that Oliver and Laurel would eventually find their way back to one another were dashed when she was killed off. But the recent introduction of a new Dinah, and new Black Canary has seen those bruised hopes somewhat buoyed. But according to Arrow's star, fans shouldn't get their hopes up this time, either.
When Ollie and Dinah (Juliana Harkavy) crossed paths, it wasn't exactly in a romantic sense, or even in the presence of sparks one would expect, if the showrunners intended to pull the Ollie/Dinah do-over many assumed. Her adopting the role of Black Canary, mask and all could suggest the writers are simply slow-playing things, but in an interview with EW, Amell comments on the prospects of romance specifically. And his adherence to the comic books seems a bit looser than most DC die hards will hope:
“The idea that Oliver would end up with the Black Canary being Katie Cassidy or any new iteration thereof? To me, it could happen, it could not, but it’s certainly not destined to happen or predesigned to happen."
That news, while disappointing to comic book enthusiasts, will come as a relief to those passionate fans of the Oliver/Felicity romance. They have a strong case, too, favoring a romance that (in their opinion) took shape naturally, on the terms of the show, and not beholden or predestined by any other version of the story. In other words, a romance that was all Arrow's. In fact, it's that ability to create something original that Amell thinks is a strength of the adaptation - even if it goes directly against the source material.
That's one area where Arrow seems to be taking a completely different approach than its sibling series, The Flash. While other romantic leads came and went in Barry Allen's life, the knowledge among fans that he and Iris West were truly meant to be persisted. Even when the relationship seemed like a long shot, it was made more engaging to know that the characters might actually be fighting the inevitable. With Arrow, the fans are a bit more vocal. Even so, Amell puts emphasis on the results that come from creating something lasting from a minor character in the comics, instead of playing out what the audience expects:
"There have been feuding factions in the fan base — people that call upon the comics and people that have lived in the universe of the show... I would say that we try to find a happy medium for both, try to live in the universe that the show has created where characters that weren’t a part of the Green Arrow mythos have become completely indispensable."
"There are elements that you find in a TV show that make the show what they are, and that became Oliver’s relationship between Felicity and Diggle — one character that’s completely original in terms of John Diggle, an ode to Andy Diggle, who wrote Year One, and Felicity Smoak, who was plucked from the far reaches of the DC universe. Thea Queen also does not exist in the comics and I think that’s all stuff that’s important to remember... I think that it would be a pretty two-dimensional world if you simply followed with what the comic said."
We'll leave it to the fans to decide if more is added or subtracted by straying from the comic formula. Either way, romance is the least of Oliver Queen's problems lately.
Arrow airs Wednesday @8pm on The CW.