When a character is introduced in 1941, you have to imagine that there are going to be some different versions of it. With hundreds of artists and writers being afforded the opportunity to work on superheroes like the Green Arrow, each being able to put their own spin on him, you get more than just one incarnation.
Thanks to all the changes to the character over the years, there are actually numerous distinct versions of the Green Arrow we can examine and rank… which is exactly what we have done here!
To be fair, there are technically more than the 15 we have chosen for this list. A number of cartoon and video game appearances are a little too similar to separate so we have chosen the versions that were unique enough to warrant a place on our list. It took some discussion, but we were able to come up with a ranking of the worst and best interpretations of Green Arrow.
We would love to hear from you to let us know how you think we should have ranked these, but that’s what the comment section is for.
In the meantime, here is Every Adaptation Of Green Arrow, Ranked Worst To Best
15. GOLDEN AGE
It all had to start somewhere so we are kicking off this list with the very first appearance of the Green Arrow in More Fun Comics #73, written by Mort Weisinger and penciled by George Papp in 1941.
The Golden Age Green Lantern was almost an identical rip-off of Robin Hood. If we had to pinpoint the exact look he had, we would have to say Errol Flynn from 1938’s Robin Hood. He wore all green with a feathered cap and an eyemask – just not that original or cool.
He was also introduced with Roy Harper/Speedy with the following synopsis: “Green Arrow and Speedy, armed with conventional arrows, and equipped with a super-streamlined powerful car called the ‘Arrowplane’, uncover the identity of a cunning murderer, and take him down in time to save most of the threatened members of “the famous History Club.”
14. BRONZE AGE
Jumping into the Bronze Age, we see a much different version of the character. He is still sporting the same green archer motif (let’s face it, that’s not really going away). Oliver Queen is all about his glorious facial hair, which appears in most versions of the character throughout the ’70s-’90s. This look was first introduced by Neal Adams in Brave and the Bold #85, making him the only superhero at the time who sported some facial hair.
The reason you see an image of him alongside Hal Jordan’s Green Lantern has to do with DC’s decision to pair them constantly throughout the period. During this time, Queen lost his fortune and became a far-left iconoclast who was angry at the system that failed him. Green Lantern/Green Arrow became the predominant publication for the Emerald Archer and the two went on many adventures together.
13. SILVER AGE
Now we take a step back to the Silver Age of comics. The Green Lantern underwent some changes between the Golden and Silver ages, but not very much was different. Initially, the Green Arrow and Speedy were not given membership to the Justice League.
Fans weren’t necessarily too upset at this as he was something of a lower-tier superhero. That said, Mort Weisinger, the creator of the two as well as Aquaman wanted to get him onto the team. When he was brought onto the team in Adventure Comics #250, written by Bill Finger and penciled by John Sikela in 1958, that marked his entrance into the Silver Age (though some argue it was issue #256 due to an origin story).
12. YOUNG JUSTICE
Oliver Queen’s Green Arrow from Young Justice pays homage to the character’s look that began during the Bronze Age.He has his trusty goatee and wears a hood instead of a hat. Everything is, of course, green and his belt buckle looks suspiciously like the letter G. His appearance in the series marks his seventh animated appearance and much of his backstory remains the same.
His personality was that of a lighthearted member of the Justice League who never took himself too seriously, much like the Flash in Justice League Unlimited. He is joined once again by his longtime protégé Speedy and first appeared in the pilot episode “Independence Day”. For the animated series, he is voiced by Alan Tudyk, who also provides his voice for the character in other series and video games.
Earth-2 is slightly different from the regular, run-of-the-mill Earth our normal Oliver Queen comes from. On Earth-2, Queen was a famous Native American historian who collected relics. His love for all things Native American eventually led him to take up the bow and arrow… as you do. He developed his skills and became a master archer. Because Batman was developing as a vigilante in Gotham City and Queen respected him, he decided to follow suit and use his skills with a bow and arrow to fight crime.
The origin story is a bit different, but when you get down to it, the character of both versions is fairly similar. They both dress the same and fight crime with their skills, but the Earth-2 version continued to age – unlike most comic characters. He was eventually killed in the first Battle of New Earth at the hands of the Anti-Monitor’s Thunderers.
When DC decided to reboot their entire continuity in what would be the first of many such attempts, they did some revamping to their characters and Oliver Queen was no exception. When The Crisis on Infinite Earths came to an end and the so-called Post-Crisis universe was upon us, DC launched a miniseries titled The Longbow Hunters, which was the first major story for a newly-modified Green Arrow.
It was during this time that Queen fell in love with Black Canary and the two began a relationship that would span decades. The storyline that unfolded was much darker in comparison to those that came before. Queen gets involved with a vigilante archer named Shado who shoots him in the chest, but later nurses him back to health… only to rape him. She conceived a child named Robert whom Ollie would only learn of years later.
9. THE NEW 52
Remember that DC continuity reboot we just talked about? Well, here’s another one for you: The New 52. This was a little different than previous reboots, but they did decide to revamp and relaunch 52 titles at #1 with all new (or altered) origin stories following the events of Flashpoint. Superman was younger and had some limitations to his powers and even Ollie got in on the action with the launch of his book, Green Arrow #1 in November 2011. Like his fellow superheroes, he got a pretty significant revamp.
The New 52 version has Ollie running Q-Core, a communications company he uses to fund his adventures as the Green Arrow. DC removed his relationship with Black Canary, his friendship and partnership with Hal Jordan’s Green Lantern, and his being a father from his history.
There were other characters included in the series, like John Diggle – who was originally created for the television series Arrow.
8. JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED
Given that he started out as a minor character where the Justice League is concerned, it wasn’t incredibly surprising that the creators of Justice League Unlimited opted to keep the Green Arrow on the sidelines for much of the series. Though he didn’t appear as a main character in every episode like some of the heavier hitters, Ollie’s time in the spotlight made for some very exceptional writing that helped to illuminate the character for a new generation of viewers.
As you can see from the image, Ollie in this incarnation looks very much like he did in the post-crisis timeline. He wears his typical green outfit (New Earth) with the cap and eye mask while sporting his usual blond facial hair.
There wasn’t much revealed about him in the series, but he is referred to as Ollie and he did mention that he and Speedy were once partners. Ollie is voiced by Kin Shriner throughout the nine appearances of the character in this series.
In the Flashpoint timeline, Oliver Queen is the head of Green Arrow Industries, which is a military contractor that supplies weapons. Ollie is a technical genius who steals advanced weaponry and gadgets from supervillains so he can then sell them to the military. He is also the leader of a band of Green Arrows consisting entirely of former military members.
In many ways, this version of Oliver Queen is a war profiteer. Because he was in the practice of stealing tech from supervillains and testing that tech in American cities, he inadvertently made those very cities the targets of those villains looking to get their tech back.
He seemed ok with this arrangement until the catastrophic death of his daughter to turn his life around and go from making money off of warfare to making weapons to help end warfare. If that sounds a little like Tony Stark, we won’t fault you for noticing.
Smallville told the story of how Clark Kent grew up to be a real super fellow. Along the way, he met many of the people who would become his partners in crimefighting – though, sadly, they never did throw Bruce Wayne onto the show. When Oliver Queen came onto the series, played by Justin Hartley, it seemed he might take over the show as the dominant superhero. The producers kept him in check, but Hartley did a great job of playing the superhero.
In the Smallville timeline, Queen is much younger than he was during the same period in the comics – in his 20s rather than being in his 40s. He is still a billionaire and owner of Queen Industries, but he marries Chloe Sullivan and becomes intertwined in Clark’s life.
5. CONNOR HAWKE
Connor Hawke is our only entry on this list who is not Oliver Queen but is rather Queen’s son who took up the mantle of the Green Arrow for a time. When Ollie decided to shave his head and facial hair to join the Ashram Monastery he had gone to more than a decade before, he met Connor whom he didn’t know was his son. The two became friends and trained together. Eventually, Ollie was killed saving Metropolis from a terrorist attack, which left Connor to take up the bow in his father’s absence.
He was very successful during his time as the Green Arrow and even joined the Justice League in his father’s place. When Ollie “returned from the dead”, as comic book characters tend to do, the two moved in together to develop their relationship.
4. YEAR ONE
Year One was a limited series of six issues published in 2006-2007 that tell the origin story of the character. Unlike other origin stories, this one gets into the nitty-gritty of Oliver Queen and his time stuck on the island that turned him from a billionaire playboy into the deadliest man in the world with a bow.
The series inspired the use of flashbacks in the television series Arrow where Queen’s origin is unfolded across the show’s multiple seasons.
The Oliver in this story is much rawer than in previous decades of the character’s existence. While on the island, he becomes truly happy – until he finds that it isn’t deserted as he believed. He takes it upon himself to break up the drug ring being run on the island and saves the enslaved people who were forced labor for China White, the leader of the operation.
3. INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US
Our only video game entry on this list is for the Green Lantern from Injustice: Gods Among Us. As one of the playable characters for the game, Ollie could kick some serious butt across the realm of characters in the DC Universe.
In this timeline, Superman has taken over the world and created an oppressive government. Some have joined forces with the Tyrant of Steel while others, such as Ollie, have banded together to fight against him. Ollie was part of an insurgency but was murdered by Superman.
Because of his sacrifice, he is remembered as a martyr for the cause, which has created a lasting legacy for the Green Arrow. His look in the game changes depending on the “skin” used, but generally, he rocks his New Earth-style costume and can sometimes be seen wearing a hood like his comic book counterpart.
Stephen Arnell plays Oliver Queen/The Green Arrow on The CW’s Arrow, which will begin its sixth season in October 2017. The series tells the whole story of how Oliver Queen went from being a rich playboy to the dedicated hero who has helped save the city time and time again. As a part of what is often referred to as Arrowverse, Queen is a part of the other shows in the shared universe Flash, DC: Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl.
Though the series focuses on what is happening now, it also hearkens back to Oliver’s growth from his spoiled brat nature into the hero he has become. Flashbacks are used heavily throughout the series to tell his tale and relate to what is happening at the time.
The character has changed significantly throughout the series. At first, Oliver had no qualms about killing but has since regulated himself to be more nonlethal whenever possible. His costume has developed as well, beginning rather crudely and becoming a more refined outfit as he evolved.
1. THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS
In Frank Miller’s award-winning series The Dark Knight Returns, we see an older version of Batman dealing with the world who has gotten on without superheroes. It becomes apparent that most of the vigilante-types didn’t take too kindly to being sidelined, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Oliver Queen kept at his superhero endeavors.
Now much older and without a left arm, Queen looks like he should be sitting on the sidelines, but you can’t keep a good superhero down.
You might think a one-armed person couldn’t shoot a bow, but Ollie grips the nocks of his arrows with his teeth and fires them off as well as he could before. He is heavily involved in an anti-government organization fighting against oppression. This version is the best simply due to how incredibly badass he is. He doesn’t let a little thing like losing his arm take him out of the fight and instead takes the fight right to the top.
What do you think of these versions of Green Arrow? Sound off in the comments and let us know if we missed any of your favorites!
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