Based on the DC Comics superhero Green Arrow, Arrow centers on young billionaire playboy (Holy Bruce Wayne, Batman!) Oliver Queen who is shipwrecked on an uncharted island for five years, during which time he mysteriously acquires impressive proficiency in martial arts, languages, parkour, and especially archery. He is rescued and returns to his unnamed metropolis, where he proceeds to wage vigilante justice in an Occupy-style hoodie against the corrupt rich who have oppressed the city’s 99%. He transfixes the bad guys with both a steely gaze and impossibly precise shooting of specially-tipped green arrows.
What transformed Oliver Queen from an irresponsible party animal to an adult of serious commitment and gave his new life purpose? When his dad’s yacht went down in the ocean, Queen had been cavorting with the sister of Lauren, the woman who loves him. The sister dies, and later, adrift together on a lifeboat, his father sacrifices himself to give Oliver a better chance of survival – but not before urging his son to atone for the misery he and his fellow greedy 1%ers had brought to the city. Besides the responsibility of honoring his father’s final wish, Queen is guilt-ridden that he survived, and his father and the sister of the woman he loves did not.
Oliver Queen is in bondage to the life-altering tragedy of the shipwreck. The guilt and sense of responsibility weigh heavily on his gym-buffed shoulders. When he once again tells Lauren he’s sorry he couldn’t save her sister, she waves it away: “You apologized already.” “It will never be enough,” he replies. And apologizing never is enough to assuage guilt until one has earned redemption and forgiveness through one’s right actions. The burden has given his life purpose.
Although Arrow suffers from soap opera-quality acting and writing (in all fairness, it isn’t aiming to be anything more than a cinematic comic book), it has a great look and the action scenes are very well done. But most importantly, its message of earning redemption and forgiveness through right action hits the bullseye.
(This article originally appeared here on Acculturated, 10/22/12)