I had this rule back when the Harry Potter movies were coming out every other year. I said I wasn't going to read the books until after I had seen the movies because I wanted to judge the movies on their own merit without judging them against what had been done in the book. I knew they would be different because adaptations always require some liberties to be taken on screen.
Now that I'm reading the entire DC Rebirth run, I'm officially breaking that rule when it comes to the DC Comics shows and movies and my first "victim" is Arrow on The CW. Surprise, right?
Now, I've been a defender of the show from the beginning even through these last two seasons, but I've noticed just like many others have how off-kilter things have been with this show particularly since The Flash TV show started. I was blown away by the first season of that show and the second season didn't disappoint one bit, but it created a HUGE problem for Arrow, in my opinion. When Arrow started, it took the Christopher Nolan Batman approach to the Green Arrow, stripping him down to the nitty gritty and making him a minimalist Batman-style vigilante in a dark setting. This was working pretty well until The Flash started, which is the completely opposite tone of that and since both share the same universe and crossover frequently, that left Arrow in a bad spot in terms of how to adjust and adapt to that kind of storytelling.
Mind you, this is what I thought before I actually started reading any Green Arrow comics, so I was unaware exactly of what Oliver Queen's universe looked and felt like on the page. In fact, all of my knowledge of his world at the time came from Arrow, which I know isn't a good thing for a mega-geek like me, but that's why I wanted to read his Rebirth titles specifically, and I have so far. What an eye-opener.
SPOILERS from here on out for both Arrow AND Green Arrow: Rebirth. Turn back now if you are somehow behind on either or both.
To begin with, my feelings on the show's decision to kill Laurel Lance has completely changed. At first I was only mildly sad and bothered by the decision to do that. Now I'm flat out pissed off that they did it and I want to know what their logic was for doing that. Oliver and Laurel have great chemistry so far in the Rebirth series and in just two issues of the comics, their relationship plays out in a way that never hit home the same on the TV show at all, not even in four full seasons. There's an understanding there between them both, a tough love kind of understanding. They are not diametrically opposed to how the other operates, but they don't completely see eye to eye either. Laurel is extremely critical of Oliver's methods and motivations in the comic, but she does it as a moral voice instead of a moral impediment like in the first two seasons of the show. That just feels better because she knows what has to be done, she just doesn't see Oliver as the perfect person to do it.
In addition, Oliver is himself again, at least as far as I know from those who have read Green Arrow in the past. He was never intended to be a stripped down Batman clone of a vigilante, he was always more of an idealist and less heavy handed and judgmental in the comics, at least he is in this one. He uses bribery of criminals to further his means on taking down a human trafficking ring, a tactic that neither Batman, nor the TV Green Arrow would sanction so quickly. He's also so far less conflicted and more sure of himself and his mission than The CW version is, and I don't know if you can attribute that entirely to the "adaptation rule" about taking liberties. Something like that could seemingly be demonstrated on screen, you would think.
This isn't a knock on Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy or any of the cast of Arrow either. They have all done a fantastic job with their characters in the show, that is not in question. The issue is really how the writers of that show have approximated the characters and adapted them for TV proper. It seems as though they were headed in one deconstructionist direction in the beginning and now are in a holding pattern almost, uncertain what to do with the show at this point in time while its other CW counterparts, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and starting this fall Supergirl, all race ahead of it.
Meanwhile, Benjamin Percy and the team behind the Rebirth series comic are returning the Green Arrow character to its roots and telling a story that the TV show is struggling to even build the right universe for. It's a sharp contrast for fans of the Green Arrow that are torn between his on-screen likeness and his on-page representation.
Again, I really don't mean to take potshots at the show because I'm usually the guy that defends reboots and remakes for being bold enough to take another angle and tell another version of a story that we already know and love and in the end, this is no different than that. For me though, it's really taking a different turn after reading some of the comics. Maybe I am personally growing weary of the show after the last two seasons like many others have, but I will still watch it even if I go all-in on the notion that the Rebirth comic is superior. I support DCTV especially now that they have taken over The CW in the 8pm hour every night except Friday starting this fall.
I am just now building a very different perspective on Green Arrow after seeing both sides of how his character is portrayed, which is something I didn't really consider when I started reading the series, despite the fact that I was aware of it with Harry Potter like I said before. Was I really treating comic books differently than standard books? Shame on me if that's the case, but at any rate, I'm looking forward to more of Green Arrow: Rebirth and I'll still keep a light on in the window for Arrow, hoping that it can one day soon catch up to its comic book counterpart at least in some form.