Warning: spoilers for last night’s Arrow episode are ahead!
After dealing with her personal demons personified as her goth self, Felicity Smoak jumped back into action with Team Arrow in last night’s episode, “A.W.O.L.” To commemorate the occasion, she finally got a codename: Overwatch, referencing executive producer Marc Guggenheim’s novel of the same name. However, Oliver also mentioned that he had considered Oracle, but it was “already taken.” While it’s possible he was just referring to the computer company, this is a DC Comics series, and it's far more likely this was a fun tease towards longtime Batman universe favorite Barbara Gordon.
Oracle was one of the common guesses for Felicity’s superhero identity once it got out she would be in a wheelchair following the Arrow midseason premiere, but executive producer Wendy Mericle later confirmed it wouldn’t be used. The Oracle mention in “A.W.O.L.” was so brief that even hardcore comic fans might not have caught it during their first watch. It was like that moment in Spider-Man 2 when J. Jonah Jameson is trying to come up with a moniker for the newly-tentacled Dr. Otto Octavius, and when his subordinate Hoffman suggests Doctor Strange, Jameson points out that it’s good, but taken. Strange, of course, is Marvel’s Master of the Mystic Arts who is finally getting his own movie 12 years after that name drop, but I digress.
Barbara is known to many as Batgirl, but in the 1988 story Batman: The Killing Joke, she was shot by The Joker and crippled from the waist down. While that cut short her time running around and punching bad guys (until the New 52 kicked off), she wasn’t finished with crimefighting altogether. In Suicide Squad #23, she debuted as Oracle, and for over two decades was the DC universe’s benevolent hacking extraordinaire and information broker. Outside of the comics, Barbara’s appearances as Oracle include the short-lived Birds of Prey TV series, the episode “Artifacts” from the animated series The Batman and the video game Batman: Arkham City.
This is just the latest Batman reference Arrow has managed to squeeze in. For example, Bludhaven is one of the Arrowverse’s fictional locations, and that’s Nightwing’s city of operation. Plus, Arrow has always loved to use Batman villains for their own purposes, from minor players like Firefly and Dollmaker to bigger ones like Deadshot and Ra’s al Ghul. Anarky is the latest of the Capred Crusader’s rogues to be featured, though for Arrow, he’s become more of a villain for Thea, a.k.a. Speedy. Does this mean that we might one day see Oracle alongside Team Arrow? As fun as that would be, don’t get your hopes up.
Fans will remember when Harley Quinn made a cameo in the Season 2 episode “Suicide Squad” and also featured in a deleted scene from the Season 2 finale. While nothing was ever set in stone, the idea was to eventually include her. However, that was scrapped when Warner Bros announced their movie lineup later that year, which included Suicide Squad, where Harley is one of the principal players. Since then, more characters who will soon be seen in the DC Extended Universe have been taken out of the TV world, including, spoilers, someone huge just last night! So aside from the Fox series Gotham, most major Batman characters are off limits to TV if there are already plans for them in the movies. In Oracle’s case, Jena Malone is rumored to be playing her in the DCEU.
Still, as mentioned, Arrow loves to throw in Batman references, and over on The Flash, there was even a reference to Wayne Tech on that 2024 newspaper in the pilot. So even though we may never see Oracle, Batman himself or other members of the Bat-Family in the Arrowverse, one can assume they are keeping Gotham City safe in this continuity. Maybe we can at least see them in one of the digital comic book tie-ins.
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. EST on The CW.