Arrow Season 2: Beating the TV Superhero Curse

Even with Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. crushing the 8 PM hour on Tuesdays, the superhero genre is a bit underserved on television. It’s a mild surprise when you consider the fact that superhero movies have made eleventy billion dollars (all figures approximate) since the start of millennium. Several have tried throughout the years, but they’ve all fallen shorts of the six seasons and a movie all TV shows strive for nowadays. Most have crashed and burned so violently that networks have become gun shy about greenlighting a superhero show. America had spoken: Tell one contained, 2-3 hour story or don’t bother telling one at all.

As a result of all of the superhero failures, expectations were fairly modest for the CW’s Arrow when it debuted last season. For starters, it was on the CW. Secondly, the story was about a guy who wears really thick eyeliner and shoots people with arrows. The Green Arrow is a poor man’s Batman, and the comic book people weren’t going to let us forget it. Thirdly, it was on the CW.

However, something interesting happened: Supported by a solid lead performance, Stephen Amell’s abs, quality action sequences, a semi-engaging story, and Stephen Amell’s abs again, Arrow became a viable television series. It’s never going to be an Emmy nominated series, but the show has become a ton of fun to watch. One of its most redeeming qualities is its willingness to have fun. Too many superhero explorations go heavy on the darkness to the point of turning a fictional, fantastical character into the gloomy emo kid we all went to school with. Arrow doesn’t strive to take itself that seriously. The show is good pulpy fun, and uses montages, fight scenes, and a rather fortunate worldview to accomplish this aim, and the show accomplishes it with aplomb.

Now looking at a second season, the show seems like its really ready to let loose. With the show looking like it’s going to push away from the morality exploration that could both engage and bog down the show, a heroic action romp seems set to begin. When they showed a preview trailer for the upcoming season at Comic-Con, you can see where their second season bread is going to be buttered: non-stop action. Often, when shows, particularly ones as successful as Arrow, get second seasons, the purse strings tend to loosen just a bit. As a result, we could be on the verge of a season flush with compelling action sequences. During last season’s action, you could see the limitations on the show’s budget. From the little I’ve seen of the second season, it’s clear the show plans to double down on the superhero action. However, it’s unclear what a potential reliance on action could do to the storylines. Last season, I enjoyed the interplay with Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity about morality, heroism, and humanity. Arrow could go full bore into an action sequence, but the quiet moments before or after offered the show’s three most capable returning actors an opportunity to showcase the show’s relative depth. A new version of the show where Oliver is the greatest hero of Starling City becomes a little less interesting.

Still, if I get too bogged down in those issues, then I’m watching the show the wrong way. I could worry about storylines, Katie Cassidy’s acting, or the occasional strangeness of the island flashbacks, but that would distract from all the things Arrow does exceedingly well. Call it guilty pleasure, comfort food, or any other term you like, but the truth remains the same: This show is a lot of fun.