Sunday, July 14, 2024

Arrowverse Characters and Innovation within Adaptation

Share This Post

The Arrowverse may find its origins within comics, but it has never fastened itself rigidly to its source material. It isn’t limited to just stories and characters from the pages, even with decades’ worth of content to draw upon. While yes, the bulk of content found in Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow, can be traced back to the comics each show has introduced its own unique elements to the world.  This includes new characters created specifically for the series.

This is hardly anything revolutionary in adapted series. Original character pop up all the time, in both small and significant roles. Harley Quinn, one of the most prolific characters to grace the pages of comics, video games, and the silver screen got her start as an original character in another comic book adapted series, Batman: The Animated series. Not unlike Harley, the original characters of the Arrowverse have become deeply beloved ones.

There are so many characters who found their beginning in the Arrowverse and they have all added to the world in their own way. But this article will focus on two for each show.

Arrow: John Diggle and Thea Queen

As the first and longest running of the shows, Arrow naturally created the most notable characters of the Arrowverse. Quentin Lance almost made the cut, as he always was more involved both Laurel and Oliver’s stories than his comic book counterpart, Lawrence Lance. Felicity Smoak also gets an honourable mention because of how much she differs from her comic book counterpart. But for Arrow’s original characters, John Diggle and Thea Queen take the spotlight here.

John ‘Dig’ Diggle is a foundational character in the Arrowverse, present since the Pilot episode of Arrow. He’s been by Oliver’s side from the beginning. This becomes significant when you realize, one way or another everyone else who was in Oliver’s life when he returned from Lian Yu is now gone.  He starts off as Oliver’s ‘black driver’ but his place in Oliver’s life slowly but surely grew to that of a brother. He was the first person to whom Oliver revealed his vigilantism. Eventually, Dig takes a place as a hero alongside Oliver, taking the name Spartan. Dig’s own history as a soldier allows him to bring experience to Team Arrow.

When Oliver’s isolating tendencies become dangerous Dig is usually the first one to pull him back. They’ve become brothers in arms and each other’s most trusted allies in the field. Oliver even bequests the title of Green Arrow to Dig when he knows he’ll no longer be able to wear the mask, the ultimate display of respect.

As a character, Thea Queen draws inspiration from both Roy Harper and Mia Dearden, the incarnations of Green Arrow’s sidekick in the comics. They all carry the hero name of Speedy. Thea even dates the Arrowverse’s Roy Harper. But the thing that sets her apart is the fact she’s Oliver’s younger sister. The sibling relationship between them is one of the most important in the series. Oliver time and time again risks everything for Thea. She helps her brother face his demons. Be it as Speedy, out in the field, or as his campaign manager when he was running for Mayor, Thea always has his back. Even now, after she’s taken her leave she continues to be an inspiration for her brother.

Like Diggle, she’s been around since the very start and her character has had major growth and changes through the years. She begins as a lost teenager who turned to drinking and drugs. She struggles with who she wants to be, especially after learning her father is Malcom Merlyn. Nevertheless, she chooses to reject his legacy and forge her own. Through training and diligence, she becomes someone able to hold her own with some of the best fighters in the world. She helped stop an alien invasion and fought alongside her brother to protect her city. Finally, she strikes out into the world to right the wrongs of her father, as someone truly aiming to make the world a better place.

The Flash: Joe West and Harrison Wells

In The Flash, Joe West and Harrison Wells take mentorship roles in the group dynamics of Team Flash. Joe as a father figure and Wells as a teacher.  Joe is the voice of reason. He begins as a father figure for Barry, but as his relationship with the rest of Team Flash grew, his fatherly wisdom extended to Cisco and Caitlin. But he isn’t just the dad of the group. As a detective, he helps the team with their investigation. Sometimes it’s by offering his deductive skills or knowledge of Central City. Sometimes he helps by looking the other way when the Flash needs evidence from a crime scene. Also, as the ‘average Joe’ of the team, he acts as the audience’s substitute, asking for an explanation when the rest of team flash are doubling down in the science.

Harrison Wells,  or as he’s better known as Dr. Wells. Or Harry. Or H.R. Regardless how he’s known or which earth he’s from, a Harrison Wells will always have a place on Team Flash. The first Harrison we met was actually Eobard Thawne in disguise which means, technically, that Wells has a comic book counterpart. But, soon enough, we were introduced to a real Harrison in Harry Wells from Earth-2. As a scientist himself, he found a place on Team Flash easily. One of the greatest minds on multiple worlds, he’s an irreplaceable asset to the team. He and Cisco may butt heads, but they end up inspiring each other more often than not.

H.R. wasn’t much of a science guy. He wasn’t a science guy at all. What he provided Team Flash was something different. He helped motivate the team, especially Wally, through tough times. Occasionally he had an inspired idea as well. It was thanks to him Star Labs became profitable again by turning it into a museum, for example. In the end, he makes the ultimate sacrifice, giving his life in the place of Iris.

Legends of Tomorrow: Amaya Jiwe and Sara Lance

Legends of Tomorrow as a show, unlike the other Arrowverse shows, didn’t begin as it’s own comic series. Legends was a way to give a home to those characters who didn’t quite have a place on Arrow or The Flash. So it makes senses Legends would also be a home for some of the most beloved of the Arrowverse’s original characters.

Amaya Jiwe is heavily based on Mari McCabe aka, Vixen who does exist in the Arrowverse. In-universe Amaya is Mari’s grandmother and carried the Anansi totem and the title of Vixen before Mari. But she’s so much more. When we first meet her, she’s a member of the Justice Society of America. As a Legend she quickly proves herself to be capable and intelligent. When Sara isn’t around, Amaya is the one she leaves in charge. It’s not just anyone who can control the Legends. She has an unmatched tenacity and drive. When she learns of the ill fate of her tribe and family she goes against the number one rule of time travel and changes it, ultimately for the better.

Sara Lance may have had her start on Arrow and the streets of Star City, but it’s travelling through time where she came into her own. She begins as the badass former assassin of the group and nevermind that she doesn’t have powers or super-suits or high tech weapons, she’s one of the toughest members of the team.  She’s inarguably the best at hand to hand combat.

Eventually, she has to step up to the role of Captain. And it’s the role she was born for (or re-born for). Captain Sara Lance is one of the best things in the Arrowverse. She’s a strong, confident leader who’s fiercely protective of her team. One cannot forget she’s an openly bisexual woman who’s had relationships with men and women in her tenure on the show, either. She’s currently in a relationship with another powerhouse woman, Ava Sharpe.

Supergirl: Alex Danvers and Winn Schott

Winn Schott is Supergirl’s guy in the chair. He’s the go-to guy for gadgets. He’s also the emotional soundboard for his friends. No matter the situation, he’s there for his friends. Supergirl also wonderfully subverts the ‘best guy friend gets friendzoned’ trope with Winn and Kara in season 1. When his affections are rebuffed he doesn’t go down a dark path or blame her. He takes the time and distance he needs but remains one of her best friends.

And speaking of a dark path, Winn’s own isn’t without its own darkness. Being the son of a supervillain isn’t easy. There were times when it seemed like he could follow the same path as his father. But he never faltered, like the true hero he is. A certified supergenius, he’s helped save the day countless times. Now he’s off to the distant future, to save their world.

Alex Danvers. Supergirl’s hero, current director of the DEO, loving sister. These are just a few of the titles that can be given to Alex Danvers. That only begins to scratch the surface of Alex’s character. Alex’s and Kara’s relationship has been the core of Supergirl since day one. Kara had been content to live an average life, leaving the super-heroing to her cousin. That is until Alex’s plane starts to fall out of the sky. Kara’s love for Alex is what pushed her to become a superhero. It’s Alex’s continued support that keeps her going.

Alex isn’t just going to leave all the hero duty to her sister either. She may not have a hero name but as a member of the DEO, she helps protect the whole world. Whether in the lab or out in the field fighting aliens, Alex proves her worth time and time again.

She’s also a lesbian with one of the best coming out arcs on television. In spite of the accelerated pace for a TV timeline, Alex hits the nuance of someone coming out later in life with pure authenticity. Now, as Director of the DEO she represents a role so rarely seen in media: a queer woman in a position of power. With her goal of becoming a mother, Alex continues to push the boundaries of representation.

The original characters of the Arrowverse give each series depth and heart. With these characters, the Arrowverse creates a support system for the other characters. They add diversity to the world, too, helping their world look like ours. These characters each have their own hardships and their own triumphs. We’ve watched them grow and thrive. In short, they help give the Arrowverse life.

Images courtesy of the CW

Latest Posts

‘Fresh Kills’ Uses the Mob to Explore Women’s Rage

The best movies about the mob are rarely merely...

Faeforge Academy: Episode 169 – Rebirth

The Void Mother speaks. And Rain must choose... The Faeforge...

The Dissonance: Reflections on a Conversation with Shaun Hamill

We’re doing things a little differently, this time. Shaun...

The Acolyte Delivers The Rest Of The Story, But Still Feels Incomplete

In my review last week, I mentioned that now...

From the Vault: ‘Cotton Comes to Harlem’

"Keep it Black until I get back." The names Melvin...

The Last Alchemist is Rewardingly Challenging

The Last Alchemist challenges players to create the right alchemical properties to cure a man's illness and save the day too.