Film

Ten Reasons to Start Watching Arrow

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With a successful two seasons behind it and a spin-off series to its credit, superhero drama Arrow now enjoys the sort of sustainable mass appeal that comic book franchises aim for. Arrow‘s singular vision rarely feels like the product of a creative committee, and show-runners Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg know how to balance between pushing nerds’ buttons and appealing to the rest of us.

Arrow follows Oliver “Ollie” Queen (Stephen Amell), a Batman-esque socialite who vows to protect Starling City from all the super-villains Batman doesn’t have time to beat up. Queen’s obscure adversaries are one of the best signs of the show’s success. Third-string characters like Count Vertigo (Seth Gabel) and the Clock King (Robert Knepper) satisfy established fans, but are also characterized well enough to pique uninitiated viewers’ interest. In time for its season three premiere on October 8, here are ten reasons to start watching Arrow.

1. Death Matters

When characters die in Arrow, their absence has consequences beyond the episode in which they died. In season two, Ollie vows to stop killing criminals after best friend Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell) dies. In season three, Ollie will similarly grapple with the murder of mother Moira (Susanna Thompson). Which means we’ll probably learn more about Moira’s affair with earthquake-machine-building baddy Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman). And hopefully, that will shed more light on all the shady stuff Moira has done to protect Ollie from himself, as was hinted at it in season two, when Moira bribed a girl Ollie knocked up — just to get her to stay away from him.

2. No Camp-Allergies

Arrow takes several cues from the Dark Knight trilogy, especially Queen’s self-serious mission to “become something [more]” than just a playboy philanthropist. Thankfully, the series’ creators don’t emulate Bat-director Christopher Nolan’s sphincter-uptight aversion to camp. So not only do Arrow super-villains like Count Vertigo (Seth Gabel) exist, they also get to behave as flamboyantly as characters with names like “Count Vertigo” should. In season three, scenery-devouring character actor Peter Stormare replaces the alternately charming and insufferable Gabel as the Count.

3. No More Lost-like Island Flashbacks

So much of season two was wasted on flashbacks that explained how Ollie, an ex-dilettante, became a stone-faced vigilante. He seemed poised to escape his island prison at the end of season one. But instead, he just kinda stayed there, and was tormented by former-ally Slade “Deathstroke” Wilson (Manu Bennett). Thankfully, neither Wilson nor the island are a pressing concern after their seemingly interminable second season conflict (Seriously, why didn’t it end sooner?). Now, Ollie must fend for himself in Hong Kong, where he will presumably hook up with the League of Assassins, the cult that Batman trained with in Batman Begins‘ flashbacks. There’s no way to know for sure, but it’s a safe bet that Arrow‘s change of scene will make Ollie’s flashbacks much less tedious.

4. More Unapologetically Ridiculous Costumes

Most live-action superhero movies and TV shows shy away from the use of garish masks, and costumes because, well, they usually look dorky. But everyone wears masks and/or a costume in Arrow, even Ollie, who now covers his eyes with a domino mask. Berlanti, Guggenheim, and Kreisberg’s haven’t done much to change their super-characters’ childishly surreal appearances. That creative gamble usually pays off, though Summer Glau did look like a cosplayer in her season two Ravager costume. Here’s hoping that brazen trend is judiciously applied in season three, when we’ll meet several new heroes and villains with hyper-gaudy costumes, like Digger “Captain Boomerang” Harkness (Nick Tarabay) and Ted “Wildcat” Grant (J.R. Ramirez).

5. Stephen Amell’s Six-Pack

It’s entirely possible that Amell’s inescapable abs — seriously, they deserve their own “And Featuring” credit — are not your thing. But it’s harder still to argue with the way Amell is objectified in Arrow given since it’s a TV show designed for geeks of both sexes and sexual preferences. So go ahead: take a look.

6. Fan Service Done Right

The biggest misconception about superhero movies/TV shows is that you have to be a fan to enjoy fan service-y references to obscure comic book characters, or events. Arrow‘s creators know that’s not true, and liberally pepper each episode with foregrounded allusions to fan-favorites like Ted “Blue Beetle” Kord, whose Kord Industries is the setting for “Time of Death,” one of season two’s best episodes. That kind of overt callback could have easily backfired and come across like a secret handshake between and for geeks only. Thankfully, since it is a barely-hidden Easter Egg, that kind of inside joke engages new fans, and encourages them to seek out other DC titles like Justice League International, a comedic take on third-string heroes like Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, and Martian Manhunter.

7. More Ladies

At least half of Arrow‘s main characters are women, so it’s not surprising to see a third costumed female character join Sara “Canary” Lance (Caity Lotz) and Helena “Huntress” Bertinelli (Jessica De Gouw) in season three. Admittedly, that third super-woman is Tatsu “Katana” Yamashiro (Rila Fukushima), a bland supporting character best known for so-so comics titles like Batman and the Outsiders. Still, it is nice to know that Arrow‘s creators are always trying to represent and cater to women, an exotic demographic that most geek-friendly series don’t really understand. Another potential season three highlight: the introduction of Carrie “Cupid” Cutter (Amy Gumenick), the show’s second female supervillain, and a potential corrective to Glau’s boring Ravager.

8. The Flash

Forensic scientist Barry “The Flash” Allen (Grant Gustin) was introduced in a so-so backdoor pilot mid-way through Arrow‘s second season. He’ll return midway through season three for a two-part crossover with spinoff series The Flash. We hope this means we will see Flash villains pop up in Starling City very soon. Because let’s face it, Green Arrow villains like Deathstroke are fine enough. But the Flash regularly fights Gorilla Grodd, a super-intelligent talking ape. Game over, Arrow, game over. 

9. David Ramsey’s Abs

John Diggle (Ramsey) is a sexy, and sometimes topless man. Look, here he is without his shirt on.

10. Brandon Routh

When’s the last time you saw Brandon Routh, the star of Bryan Singer’s sorely underrated Superman Returns, in a decent role? Routh is so good that he somehow stood out during a seconds-long cameo in Kevin Smith’s Zack and Miri Make a Porno. As Ray “The Atom” Palmer, a super-scientist who can shrink down to microscopic size, Routh will do his damnedest to make people forget he also starred in Dylan Dog: Dead of Night