The CW's Arrow showrunner Wendy Mericle recently talked about the direction of the Susan Williams plot thread on Arrow, saying that the reporter hasn't let up on trying to prove that Oliver Queen was living and operating out of Russia during the five years he was supposedly stranded on a deserted island.
In trying to explain the story, series star Stephen Amell turned to a familiar superhero staple for audiences: Batman Begins.
"Susan appears to be up to no good, but in reality, she's just following a very interesting story," Amell told reporters during a set visit back in November. "I mean, the mayor of the town where she's a reporter was clearly not on an island for five consecutive years -- which, by the way, I think it's about time we did that. I always think back to the first Nolan Batman, where Ra's al Ghul says to him 'The world is too small a place for someone like Bruce Wayne to disappear.' Even if [Oliver] wasn't as famous -- and he wasn't -- he did perish in a very famous incident in our story. I always thought when he was in Hong Kong that someone would stop him and be like, 'Hey, you look like Oliver Queen!' but it didn't happen."
Arrow has never shied away from its ties to Christopher Nolan's grounded, morally-murky Batman opus Dark Knight Trilogy, with producers acknowledging the impact of the atmospheric, sociopolitical take on Batman had on them when they were crafting Star City for TV.
The similarities between Amell's Oliver Queen and Christian Bale's Batman have drawn jokes and criticisms in the five years that the series has been on the air, but that's largely to be expected: Green Arrow has always been the butt of "poor man's Batman" jokes in the comics community, and the fact that most of the truly badass DC villains who are truly human are villains who primarily duke it out with the Dark Knight means Ollie has squared off with his share of Bat-baddies over the years.
Still, Amell's point speaks more to the aesthetic of the show than story:they want something that can be believable to casual viewers, and that sometimes means challenging superhero norms in the way that Nolan set out to do in his films. It's unlikely anybody would have thought the Susan Williams element -- she's married to Green Lantern's brother in the comics, by the way -- was related to Batman, except that Amell described it that way.
Arrow's fifth season has been a major shift from the previous two, emphasizing bone-crunching action and a return to street-level vigilantism over the superheroics and relationship dramas that shaped the show's third and fourth seasons. As a show with a deeply-divided fan base, a serious tonal shift hasn't magically brought them all together...but while both seasons 4 and 5 have a 100% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the audience rating indicates that 69% of viewers are happy with this year's direction, as opposed to 44% last season.
More Arrow: Cool concept art of Vigilante / Arrow gets a Batman '66-style animated opening / Felicity to do some morally questionable things in season 5 / Arrow's midseason finale dropped some HUGE Prometheus clues / Stephen Amell on Laurel Lance's return / Interview: Echo Kellum
Arrow airs Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW. New episodes return the last week in January.
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