When it comes to comic book adaptations on the small screen, there’s a level of freedom that’s granted the writers and producers of the series to take the classic hero and their story in a fresh direction. This direction isn’t bogged down by comic canon. It’s like an Earth-2, if you will. There can be different reiterations of these heroes and their stories that fans can enjoy.
And sometimes, the other medium can actually do right by the characters even if it’s a different take. Such has been the case with Arrow and its own version of an epic love story between Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak.
Look, I understand the desire to want faithful translations from book (or comic book in this case) to screen. But if it doesn’t succeed in bringing certain aspects to life (whether that has to do with backstory or a lack of chemistry with actors), then you have to find another route to success.
For Arrow, one of the huge talking points has been Oliver’s love life. The series started off with the intention of telling the love story of Oliver and Laurel. And it did. Only it wasn’t a happy love story. It was a love story that shed a lot of light on the toxicity of their past and why a romantic relationship between them could never work in the future.
But perhaps their greatest failure also led to their greatest success when Felicity Smoak walked into Oliver’s life (more like he walked into her cubicle.)
Immediately there’s was this palpable chemistry between the two that made you sit up a little straighter, made you pay attention because you didn’t want to miss something important that was happening. And while I never imagined at that moment that Arrow would tell their love story, there was no denying that it was there to be told.
Oliver and Felicity’s romance has been one of the most talked about aspects of Arrow, whether you’ve loved it or hated it. Obviously we’re on the side of loving it as we’ve put this comic canon aside and respected the fact that this is a TV show and not a comic book. It might be based on the Green Arrow comics, but it’s an entirely separate entity.
While a romance between Oliver and Felicity wasn’t the original intention, the writers did what any smart writer does: they went where the characters took them. Like us, the writers recognized the potential of Oliver and Felicity as more than friends. They already knew the chemistry was there. And they had seen where the characters had taken the story. Suddenly they were looking at the epic love story they had been looking for since the beginning.
Some of the best things that happen on television happen because it’s a natural progression of events and of relationships. Things that aren’t forced, things that happen on their own in a way that’s almost magic. Or fate.
It was Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards and their natural and undeniable chemistry that jumpstarted an epic love story that forever altered the course of the show for the better. It was through their romance that we got to see Oliver evolve from a vigilante crossing names off a list to the hero that Star City is proud to call its own. While it wasn’t Felicity alone that helped cultivate that evolvement, she was a huge part of that transformation. She was his light when he needed it. He wouldn’t have made it to this point without her.
And to think that we would’ve missed out on all of that if the writers had let their vision be clouded by a sense of comic canon.
Comic canon is what it is – it’s based in comics. But as we’ve seen since the pilot, Arrow isn’t the Green Arrow comics. Sure, it borrows characters and certain aspects. But it’s something entirely separate. To that degree, it’s not even subject to comic canon.
The funny thing is that Arrow is produced by those that are comic book enthusiasts. And if they can understand that the show isn’t the comics, and if they can understand the importance of letting the show exist as its own entity, then why can’t comic book purists?
While Olicity might be one of the most controversial aspects of the show – given the divide between the fanbases – there’s no denying that it has defied comic canon and everything that comes with it. This relationship was written and cultivated by men who have lived in and around comics all of their lives. It has charmed even them.
While Oliver and Felicity might be apart right now, this is just more of their journey that the writers are telling. You don’t develop a relationship for four seasons only to end it like that. The writers are just making us suffer a little. There’s more to this story. And we’re going to see that.