What do you get when you mix an Arrow with a Flash?
It’s a glorious time to be a superhero fan. Enough comic- inspired films and TV shows have been produced at this point for all the genre’s on- screen growing pains – long since left behind in print – to be flushed out of mainstream storytelling. Case in point: TV’s Arrow. Initially an attempt to translate the success of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy to the small screen, it found its feet midway through its first year, then brought propulsive action to its second season, the best by far of any live- action superhero TV show. Now in year three, Arrow has spawned another series devoted to a Justice Leaguer in The Flash, and reaps the full benefits of that relationship in a two- part, midseason crossover event. Comprised of The Flash’s “The Flash Vs Arrow” and Arrow’s “The Brave And The Bold” – a lovely paean to the longstanding tradition of funnybook team- ups, named after the long- running DC title – it’s a study in contrasts that examines what makes our heroes tick.
In this case, Barry Allen, despite his powers, represents “the brave”, as the champion determined to set the world’s wrongs right. Oliver Queen is “the bold”, the vigilante willing to compromise his principles in order to defeat villains without any, and who sacrifices the things – and sometimes people – he loves so others won’t have to. Of course, as Barry’s friends Cisco and Caitlin point out, bravery – and cute nicknames – might come easier when the powers of one’s foes are so outlandish as to render the menace they hold mere fodder for fanciful adventures.
As this episode opens, the STAR Labs team pays Starling City a visit just as Digger Harkness, a former Suicide Squad member, breaks into ARGUS headquarters, seeking vengeance from his former recruiter, Diggle’s
girlfriend Lyla. The action throughout this sequence is typical of Arrow, in that it’s pretty much the best on television ( while distinguished from the SF oriented sequences in The Flash). In the wrong hands, Harkness ( dubbed Captain Boomerang, after his weapon of choice) could look ridiculous, or be stripped of what makes him interesting in an attempt at realism. But writer- producers Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg do their usual finely balanced job of integrating him into the DC TV Universe, while playing up his level of cunning – a requirement of any adversary confident enough to battle the bowman and the speedster.
Some have argued that this season of Arrow has contained more navel- gazing and philosophical ruminations from Oliver and co than previous years – understandable when the principal antagonist thus far is Ollie’s own perceived inability to be both vigilante and Starling ’s scion. But the navel- gazing in “The Brave And The Bold” is pierced by the levity of Team Flash, and the younger hero’s belief that Oliver too can inspire people, despite his past sins.
Those looking for a greater external threat this year would do well to remember Arrow’s past Big Bads – Malcolm Merlyn and Slade Wilson – revealed their intentions late in their respective seasons. One glimpse at what’s to come, with a bare- chested Oliver battling Ra’s al Ghul in the snow, and it appears that season three will follow suit. Should things get out of hand, however, Brandon Routh’s Ray “Atom” Palmer and JR Ramirez’s Ted “Wildcat” Grant stand waiting in the wings.
Retaining peripheral vision while wearing a hood is a superpower of its own.