The live-action DC franchise is at a unique new turning point, now that James Gunn and Peter Safran have stepped in as co-CEOs of the newly-minted DC Studios. After over a decade of various, sporadically-connected movies and television shows inspired by DC’s comics, Gunn and Safran are setting out to unite future projects under a singular DC Universe going forward. There’s been a ton of speculation about what that universe will look like, especially with some performances and franchises being rebooted while others might not be. While we don’t yet know what DC Studios has in store (although, based on Gunn’s social media posts, we should start to find out sooner than later), one argument can be made — the new DC Universe needs to include Green Arrow.
Created by Mort Weisinger and George Papp in More Fun Comics #73, Oliver Queen / Green Arrow has the honor of being one of the most consistently-published heroes within DC’s arsenal. Originally a Batman-esque billionaire with an array of archery skills and tools, he has worn many (proverbial and literal) hats in the years since his creation — whether partnering with Hal Jordan / Green Lantern and Dinah Lance / Black Canary in the “Hard Travelin’ Heroes” arc of the 1970s, becoming an urban hunter during Mike Grell’s comics of the 1980s, or returning to life and embracing a found family in comics written by Kevin Smith and Judd Winick.
Why should Green Arrow appear in the DC Universe?
A stint in Gunn and Safran’s DCU would be far from Oliver Queen’s first live-action appearance — Justin Hartley gave a memorable portrayal of him in later seasons of Smallville, and Stephen Amell’s grittier take on Arrow launched one of DC’s longest live-action franchises. Even with those performances, it can be argued that general audiences still know very little about Green Arrow (especially when Arrow‘s iteration was more concerned with homaging The Dark Knight than any Green Arrow comics). There are large swaths of Oliver Queen’s story that are left unexplored — for starters, his personal journey as a superhero, a love interest to Black Canary, and a father (both to his biological son and onetime successor, Connor Hawke, and to his wards like Roy Harper / Arsenal and Mia Dearden / Speedy). There’s also his unique ideological point of view in DC’s comics, as he became a social justice warrior and a champion of the common man in real time, a point of view that he wasn’t afraid to express as a member of the Justice League.
Let’s be honest — the idea of a wealthy, white man fighting crime without superpowers definitely isn’t anything new in superhero fiction. General audiences have basically grown to expect that story from a dozen-or-so different Batman adaptations. Although Batman is expected to have some sort of role in Gunn and Safran’s DCU, it’s safe to assume that he won’t be as prominent as he will be in Matt Reeves’ standalone The Batman universe. Instead, that role in the larger DCU could easily be filled — in a more lighthearted, socially-conscious context — with Green Arrow. To an extent, Oliver’s point of view in the DCU could only be more relevant than ever, with multiple blockbusters concerning rich people getting their comeuppance, and Elon Musk continuing to make waves in virtually every business he owns. The only difference is that Oliver could, hypothetically, be in on the joke.
How could Green Arrow appear in the DC Universe?
While there’s no telling if Green Arrow could end up in Gunn and Safran’s early plans for the DCU, it certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Gunn has openly admitted that Green Arrow was his favorite character as a kid, and a memorable joke in the Season 1 finale of Peacemaker established that he already exists in some capacity (and may or may not be a Brony). Going forward, it’s safe to assume that the DCU will include both A-listers like Superman and Wonder Woman, and previously-obscure characters like Peacemaker and Bloodsport — but the franchise also needs lovable, complex B-listers like Green Arrow, to further make the universe feel as fleshed out as it is in the comics.
And honestly, there’s no shortage of places where Green Arrow could hypothetically appear in the DCU — a solo project, an adaptation of “Hard Travelin’ Heroes”, or something else entirely. Before Gunn and Safran took over, rumors were floating that Oliver could make an appearance in the Jurnee Smollett-led Black Canary movie, something that could still happen if the still-in-development project survives into the new DCU. And of course, Green Arrow’s lengthy stint as a member of the Justice League in the comics could easily lead to him appearing in a new live-action iteration of the team, once DC Studios is able to move on from Zack Snyder’s iteration. Either way, Oliver Queen could — and honestly, should — be a part of whatever the DC Universe has in store for the future.
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