Legacy: Green Arrow Comic Canon vs CW Arrow

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Let's talk about legacy. 

Usually, when you bring up the legacy of something you must take into consideration impact, interaction with fans, and medium, cecause varying elements under either these categories can drastically change the legacy of a person, show, movie, etc.

The Decision - Arrow

If a show has a huge impact that caused a lot of buzz amongst the news world but also has horrible interactions with fans and/or alienates them, then their legacy would be affected by this fan interaction.

Or, as another example, if an adaptation occurs across mediums and severs the connection to a previous medium that acts as source material then that also affects the way its legacy gets interpreted, whether good or bad. 

This is the case with CW Arrow and its source material, the Green Arrow comics.

The Return Of Thea Queen As Speedy - Arrow

The idea of legacy for both media has been brought up recently, and a tough question rose from the debate: should Arrow be singularly integrated in one way by including Arrow characters as a permanent part of Green Arrow mythos?

In a recent interview with Australian publication The Music, Arrow Star Stephen Amell made a few comments regarding CW Arrow characters becoming integrated into Green Arrow canon:

One of the things that I’m most proud about is that, 25 years from now, if they made a Green Arrow film, they would have to make it with John Diggle and Felicity Smoak and Thea Queen and Sara Lance and a lot of the characters that we’ve brought in and have created as we’ve gone along. I hope that not only do those characters start to exist in the comic books if they haven’t already – and some of them have – but I would hope that if you were looking at the blueprint of how to do a successful Arrow show, people would be like, ‘Yeah, you have to have those characters – those characters are a part of it now.’ And the fact that we created a bunch of them, or at least reconstituted some of them in some instances, that’s the most impactful thing that we’ve done.

Stephen Amell

This quote received a lot of backlash from many comic fans who claim that it wouldn't be right for any of the characters to be permanently integrated into a world they've never cared about, seeing as CW Arrow has made it a point to increasingly depreciate Green Arrow comic fans and its canon throughout their last four seasons.

Dinah Drake Chokes Out Enemy - Arrow Season 6 Episode 23

For example, in a February EW interview, Amell claimed:

It would be a pretty two-dimensional world if you simply followed with what the comic [has done].

Stephen Amell

With this comment, he's clearly making a play on the fact that the comic is a 2-D medium while Arrow is live-action, but when did the medium start dictating the quality of a story?

There are arguably millions of amazing storylines in the comics and animation that trump live-action in every way imaginable.

On the other hand, Amell could have meant that he has read Green Arrow's comic canon and has decided himself, regardless of medium, that the story many stories, 70 years and millions of fans in the making, just isn't up to par to live action standards.

Regardless of how this quote is interpreted, it sheds a depreciating light on the canon.

What Happens Next? - Arrow Season 6 Episode 21

So, following a statement like this, when he published a tweet this week that claimed CW Arrow characters will be integral to comic canon whether the fans who read said canon like it or not has predictably raised a few feathers. 

Amell hasn't been the only one to speak down on comic canon; Marc Guggenheim has made it a point to depreciate canon and comic fans on multiple occasions. 

The most prevalent and impactful comment to the community is from a Collider interview from 2016:

My favorite fans of the shows are the people who are not comic book fans. The truth of the matter is that a wildly successful comic book today sells 80,000 copies, but 80,000 viewers does not keep any show on the air. None of these shows exist without people who are not fans of the comics. We’re not burying you in backstory and the minutiae of who these characters are.

Marc Guggenheim

With these comments, he not only alienates comic fans and perpetuates the toxic environment for them in the Arrow fandom, but he also connects these fans to his assessment of their dismal impact  at one point even going as far as to call them the "vocal minority."

Hear That? - Arrow Season 4 Episode 14

This idea of a dismal impact didn't prove to be true when the showrunners made the fateful decision to kill off Laurel Lance, Arrow's first Black Canary by the name of her predominant comic counterpart Dinah Laurel Lance. 

This decision, most likely cushioned or enabled by the ideas that Guggenheim presents in his Collider interview, resulted in ample backlash and began a downward trend in ratings ever since. 

In contrast to Guggenheim's comments, Geoff Johns also had an important statement for comic fans in his 2016 Inverse interview, regarding the importance of comic canon:

Let’s say you’ve been given the position of writing Green Arrow from scratch [...] Clean slate. You might say, ‘Okay, I’m going to write this new character,’ and when someone says, ‘Well, what about Black Canary,’ you might say… ‘nope.’ That means you completely misunderstand these characters.

Geoff Johns

This idea wildly differs from what Amell and Guggenheim posit, and although John's response was completely rhetorical, this acted as an affirmation for comic fans, especially Green Arrow fans and how they've felt about Arrow depreciating their beloved characters.

Roomies - Arrow Season 4 Episode 6

Thus, to say that CW Arrow and Green Arrow comic fans have been at odds for a long while before this clash has come to a head with Amell's recent interview is an understatement.

However, the question isn't whether or not these two mediums and the fans get along; the question is, does Amell have a point that the Green Arrow comics and the DCEU Green Arrow must include original Arrow characters, thereby extending Arrow's legacy to the comics?

That answer? Not really.

And actually, it would most likely be best for comic sales and those who are still invested in retaining views of comic fans that this doesn't happen.

Arrow Premiere Pic

Since Arrow Season 3, they've steadily sidelined the characters that most resemble canon, like Thea (Mia Dearden's counterpart) and Laurel (Dinah Laurel Lance's counterpart), in favor of their original characters like Diggle, Felicity, and Sara.

In response to this trend, DC Comics thought it would be a good idea to include these successful Arrow characters into the comic medium and merge the worlds. 

Related: Arrow Season 6 Episode 23 Review: Life Sentence

Now, before I continue, it's important to note that Green Arrow sales were struggling a bit (22k) before Arrow writers took over the comic series on issue #35 and introduced more Arrow characters to the medium, including Felicity Smoak, that sold 23k copies. 

In addition to this, DC comic sales had been decreasing all around during New 52, which many could attribute to the divergence from mythos across the board and other various reasons.

Team Totally Canary - Arrow Season 6 Episode 10

However, we're marking the change, not necessarily the numbers in general. 

Along with these new additions, Felicity Smoak the biggest among them, and with the name Kreisberg, a long time beloved comic writer (of that time -- before news of harassment went public), attached to this new story, the sales ticked up by about 1k readers, from 22k to 23k. 

However, immediately following the issue she was introduced, issue #36, the numbers dropped back to around where they were originally, 21k.

Following this run, with these Arrow characters still in the forefront, the readers dropped down below the 20k mark less than a year later, which was below the number of sales before they introduced more Arrow characters.

What Is This Place - Arrow Season 6 Episode 4

When Benjamin Percy, the acclaimed comic writer who brought back Green Arrow mythos (including the integral Black Canary relationship), took over with Convergence, sales spiked to 32k; that's an increase of more than 10,000 copies. 

And when Green Arrow Rebirth came out, that marketed their new story as staying true to Green Arrow mythos by sifting out most of the Arrow characters skyrocketed to about 81k to 82k readers. That's a 50k difference, guys.

Related: Arrow Season 6 Episode 22 Review: The Ties That Bind

In summary, before the Arrow writers introduced more Arrow characters to the comics, they were at 22k readers. This moved up to 23k when they introduced Arrow OC characters and immediately dropped back down by the next issue to 21k readers.

Less than a year later, the readers dropped even lower to 19k before DC enlisted Percy and promoted the return to the original DC comic mythos, which resulted in the return of about 50k readers.

Put 'em Up - Arrow Season 4 Episode 11

In this way, it doesn't seem that Arrow characters are good for the current legacy of Green Arrow mythos.

This markedly contrasts Amell's statements that the Arrow characters must be integrated; it seems for the health of the medium that gave Arrow the source material and the fan base to start the show depends on straying away from this idea.

So when we bring up the term of legacy and what that means for comic canon and Arrow, it only seems right to keep those ideas separate in the way that Arrow has previously insisted, and the comic heads have realized is the best course of action.

As Juan Ferreyra, a well-known artist of many DC comics in Rebirth, tweets in response to Percy's claim that DC has never asked him to include Arrow elements into Green Arrow comic canon:

They even told us NOT to watch the shows. That comic[s] SHOULD inspire the shows and not vice versa.

Juan Ferreyra

Moreover, in the spirit of the comparisons Guggenheim makes when he compares comic sales to TV ratings, Arrow Season 6  had ratings that average at a 0.43 (with substantial help from the crossover). 

Meet Your Heroes - DC's Legends of Tomorrow Season 3 Episode 8

That's 1.3 million viewers  which in the cinema world would not keep a movie in theaters. 

Now, it's important to note, we can't truly compare mediums in this way because different mediums attract certain niche fandoms and could substantially change the number of viewers.

I mostly did that to make a point regarding Guggenheim's statements, and open the door for a comparison that has a stronger connection.

We can compare other Marvel and DC comic movies to future possible Green Arrow DCEU installments.

Green Arrow On the Hunt Season 6 Episode 23

The current trend in cinemas shows a closer adherence to the source material than Arrow has shown. Whenever the movies begin to deviate from that material, there's a large push back. 

For example, fans did not enjoy the Black Widow and the Hulk relationship as much as the writer's who included it did.

Related: Get Comic Con HQ via Prime Video Channels to Stream Original Series, Past Comic-Con Panels & More!

Additionally, the depowering of Wonder Woman in the latest Justice League film and a few stray feature scripts written by Joss Whedon also didn't have a favorable response amongst a lot of fans, original comic fans or not.

With this information in mind, it becomes harder to see the relationship between integrating Arrow character into either medium and the possibility of the increased success of that medium, especially when Arrow hasn't made much effort to retain the same energy in integrating source material. 

Failing At Everything - Arrow

As I explained earlier, all original canon characters have officially been written off the show, and when they were a part of the story, they've arguably been treated as less than to the original characters.

So would it be fair to assume it's necessary to only integrate one way when Arrow fans haven't nearly heard the same amount of advocacy for integration in the opposite direction?

When it comes to the legacy of Arrow, Amell says yes. What do you say? What are your opinions on this topic? Share your thoughts in the comments section below, and watch Arrow online if you need more information! 

Candice Horde was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She retired in July 2018.

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