Comic book heroes are typically known for allowing the villains to live to eventually fight another day, but this cannot become the norm on The CW's new show, "Arrow." As a vigilante on a darker show, Oliver Queen needs to shoot to kill instead of simply sending messages to the evildoers he faces. He has to get his hands bloody if he is going to appear realistic.
In the comicsTraditionally, villains are disposed of through various methods, which do not involve death. The Fantastic Four has become known for banishing their enemies to other dimensions while Doctor Strange will often trap threats in various mystical containers around his Sanctum Sanctorum. The DC and Marvel universes are filled with correctional facilities, such as Arkham Asylum, Code Zoo, the Vault, and Ryker's Island. Often, villains are seen shaking their fists in the final frames of an issue promising to be back another day.
The criticismFans have criticized the writers and planners of the comics over the years for never having superheroes "finish the job" as Stan Lee would call it. The original criticism hit its peak during the early issues of The Avengers when Lee finally buckled in Issue #15 and had Baron Zemo killed off in an avalanche inadvertently started by his own ray gun being deflected by Captain America's shield and a rock. Ever since, superheores have rarely finished the job, and fans have seen popular supervillains used over and over again for decades.
The heart of a vigilanteFrank Miller established a new norm in comics when he created "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns." The four-issue limited series he wrote and drew in 1986 established that a vigilante often has to finish the job to separate himself from other comic book characters. The vigilante finishes the job because his goal is complete vindication and not simply stopping a threat. Over the years, vigilante characters in comics have done what they could to ensure there is not a door a criminal can walk through in the future.
Comics book-based TV shows and deathMost of the comic book-based shows over the years have been animated series, and it is difficult to write a death into a show that children might be watching. On the live-action "The Incredible Hulk," Ol'Greenie rarely killed one of the baddies he faced. He would usually bend bars around doorways so they could not escape. On "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" and "Smallville," deaths occasionally happened, but evil was usually dealt with using nonlethal methods.
The creators of "Arrow" have to take a cue from "The Walking Dead" with the idea that characters die and antagonists are taken care of permanently once the occasion arises. If "Arrow" is going to be about a vigilante who wants to completely eliminate evil, Queen will have to finish the job or he will be grouped with average superheroes. While the character does not need to have blood on his hands every episode, it should be a regular occurrence to show how dark vigilantism can be and how Queen can strike fear in his enemies.
More from this contributor:
- Visual Arts
- Arts & Entertainment
- Oliver Queen