Warning: spoilers for last night’s Arrow episode are ahead!
Last night, “Sins of the Father” saw major developments with the League of Assassins, an organization that’s played a major role on Arrow since Season 2. A brief civil war between Nyssa al Guhl and Malcolm Meryln’s factions led to the rooftop duel between Merlyn and Oliver, culminating in Oliver slicing off his opponent’s hand and giving control of the League to Nyssa. It was her actions minutes later that not only will have lasting repercussions on the entire series, but will also serve as a good step towards Arrow distancing itself from the world of Batman.
For most of the episode, Nyssa was trying to seize control the League of Assassins from Merlyn, using The Lotus potion as leverage to get Oliver to kill Merlyn. Even after talks between Malcolm broke down and escalated the conflict, Nyssa still refused to give The Lotus to Thea, more keen on getting what she believed was her birthright than helping her sister-in-law. After some real talk from Laurel, Nyssa realized she was still in her father’s clutches long after his death. So after gaining leadership of the League from Oliver, she disbanded it and threw the ceremonial ring into the fire, figuratively and literally melting the organization’s influence.
Arrow made a wise decision wiping the League away, not just as a way to develop Nyssa, but by taking yet another element of Batman’s world off the board. Ever since Arrow began in 2012, it’s been accused by many of having too many similarities to the Batman mythology, or at worst, of being a blatant Batman ripoff. This ranges from the show using many Batman villains (most of whom are second or third tier) to Oliver acting more like the Dark Knight than the Green Arrow from the comics. This reached full peak last season with not only Ra’s al Ghul’s introduction, but the duel between him and Oliver in “The Climb,” which mirrored Batman and Ra’s’ duel in 1972’s Batman #244. Whatever your position is on the subject, there’s no denying that the Arrow crew likes to include Batman elements here and there, and with Arrow more than halfway through its fourth season, the time has come to move away from this side of the DC universe.
There are still a few loose ends, of course. Nyssa will continue to be a recurring character, but now that she’s wiped away her father’s legacy, she can start to forge her own path. Villain-wise, Anarky is still on the loose, and although it doesn’t look like he’ll return anytime soon, occasional Caped Crusader adversary Deathstroke is languishing in prison. The Arrow writers are also interested in bringing back Huntress at some point, but the Helena Bertinelli version has also had enough adventures on her own in the comics that she can still be included. Plus, if the show ever wants to officially form the Birds of Prey, they’ll need her around.
Batman and Green Arrow often get compared to one another because they’re both wealthy (Bruce Wayne more so than Oliver Queen) and neither of them have powers. Granted, Green Arrow did have many direct similarities to Batman in his early years, but since the late 1960s, the Emerald Archer has tonally separated himself from the Dark Knight. Arrow has managed to incorporate many cool moments from Green Arrow’s history (like Oliver’s mayoral campaign), but it’s doing itself a disservice by falling back on Batman lore as often as they have, for better or worse.
Realistically speaking, Arrow will always need to depend on other areas of the DC universe, at minimum when it comes to recurring characters. If you look at Green Arrow’s rogues gallery in the comics, you’ll see the show has already gone through most of the heavy hitters. So there’s no question that Arrow will have to start using antagonists connected to other DC heroes and teams, but no more Batman villains. They’re already getting enough screen time in the movies and Gotham. Arrow may also grab the occasional ally from outside of Oliver’s life in the comics, like it did last season with The Atom and this season with Mr. Terrific. There’s nothing wrong with doing that, but how about drawing from less well-known areas of DC’s decades-old history? Batman is already getting more than enough representation in the media.
While nothing has been confirmed, it’s a good bet that Arrow will return for Season 5 this fall, and maybe even keep the adventures going for a few more years. If the show wants to continue treading new ground, though, it’s time to start moving away from the Batman universe and explore either more of Green Arrow’s history or other areas of DC Comics. Getting rid of the League of Assassins was a good start, and if they continue this trend, then Arrow will be better off. Trust me, it’s not like Batman is lacking exposure.
New episodes of Arrow air Wednesdays at 8 p.m. EST on The CW.