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‘Arrow’: In Defense of Oliver Queen

Ah, crossovers. How we love you. We love the endless bonding moments between our favorite heroes, and we love that big inevitable superhero team up.

Unfortunately, sometimes when said heroes are featured on other shows that are not their own, things can get problematic. Either their character is written out of character (OOC), or their characterization is completely mishandled.

This seemed to be the case for Arrow‘s Oliver Queen during the three night Elseworlds crossover. If you don’t watch Arrow and only experience him in the crossovers, I’m sure you see nothing wrong with this portrayal.

But as an avid Arrow fan, I am pleased to report that the Oliver Queen you witnessed and heard characterized, is not the Oliver Queen I have watched for seven years. Here’s why:

Seven years of development

I think it is a safe assumption that Oliver has changed and grown in some way throughout the course of his show, which is now on its seventh season. But hey, I have no control if the external factors that be choose to ignore that. However, I can control how I respond to it, and I respond by saying: NOPE.

Sorry, Oliver is not this rage-filled person who puts his arrows in everyone who pisses him off. I even argue that he wasn’t like that in season 1 (but it’s debatable). Oliver has always been calculated and determined to get justice. And in season 1, he did things much differently than he does things now.

He killed people on Lian Yu, and he killed people when he returned home. Some admittedly were due to self-defense and some were bad people doing bad things. And no one is saying Oliver has always been right and blameless. That’s where the character growth comes in. Do you want Oliver Queen to pay for those sins? You do? Great! Because he does. On his own show. Watch it, it’s good.


During the crossover, someone described Oliver’s motivations for heroism as “completely defined by anger [and] vengeance.” Could this mischaracterization have been intentional? I’m going to go with no considering no one else tries to counter that point, including Oliver himself.

This statement basically sums up everyone’s attitude towards Oliver in Elseworlds. Thankfully, I have actually watched Arrow so I can recognize that this is the furthest from the truth. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t compelled to pull my hair out in the process.

  1. Just because Oliver Queen doesn’t possess the bright and sunny personality of Barry and Kara doesn’t mean he is filled with darkness. Also, why must we boil these characters down to one emotion and personality trait all the time? They are people first… who express and carry a wide array feelings throughout their life. That’s called being a human being.
  2. Oliver is motivated by his friends and family, and saying that there is nothing positive in his heroism is mind boggling.
  3. Oliver is also motivated by justice and nobility. If you see something unjust, you can count on Oliver Queen to fix it. If you see a sword to fall on, Oliver Queen will be the first in line to plunge it into his heart.

That’s who he his. Not a human version of the anger emoji, or Ebenezer Scrooge.

Barry Allen

Because Barry and Oliver body swapped the main comparison of heroism was between these two. There was a lot of propping Barry up and putting Oliver down.

Since when is Barry the only one that inspires? Or represents the best in humanity? Oliver went through hell, and instead of becoming a useless alcoholic lump that he had every reason to be, he fought for Star City. And he still fights for it, and inspires people to do the same.

Has Barry Allen ever made a mistake? The answer is no if you go by this crossover. Concurrently, this body swap had some worried that he would be infected by the plague that is Oliver Queen. Did Oliver and Barry not have complete agency in how they chose to conduct their superhero-ing with each others powers?

Yes, they did. If Barry chose to say “you have failed this city” in a growly voice and had the audacity to scowl, that’s his choice. And not a sign Barry is turning into this angry and unlikable human all because of Oliver.

Lastly, when Oliver says he “might get there someday” meaning he will be a good man because of Barry, I wanted to throw things. Do I need to explain how problematic that statement is? Is it self explanatory? Yeah, Barry is solely responsible for Oliver being a good person. That makes sense. It’s not like he only sees him once a year or anything (hopefully my sarcasm is clear).

Not surprised telling Oliver how dark and icky he is all crossover causes him to internalize that. Sigh.

Do better

All I ask is we don’t have a fundamental misunderstanding of one of the main characters when they crossover. And if someone does, it gets addressed, and they are put in there place.

Also, treat Oliver Queen better. Admittedly, he has had a far different hero journey than Barry and Kara. But can we treat that as a strength and not as a weakness?


Arrow returns Monday, January 21 at 8 PM on The CW.



Lynsey is a proud Hufflepuff. Find her watching anything from BoJack Horseman to Grey's Anatomy. She loves to read... especially if it features dragons and a good cry. If you ask her what she's doing she will most likely respond "I probably should be writing." Find her on Twitter, to theorize, geek out, and to obsess about Olicity.

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