Dennis O’Neil: Arrow and Bat
Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice • Robert Frost
All you climate change doubters may now put on your dunce caps and leave. Don’t forget to shovel the walk on your way out.
…But where were we? Ah yes, where we often are, on opposite sides of a time gap. I’m writing here, you’re reading there. I suppose we can deal with it.
We’re looking ahead, you and I, to the forthcoming Daredevil television presentation, to be streamed on the increasingly diverse and interesting Netflix. Might be interesting. Might surpass the Ben Affleck movie Daredevil of a few years back, which may not have been everyone’s favorite entertainment. (I don’t have an opinion about it. Really, I don’t!) I see that Vincent D’Onofrio has gotten the job of being veteran DD baddie, The Kingpin, which seems to be good casting; let us not forget that Mr. D’Onofrio played a giant bug in the first Men in Black flick, so a corpulent gangster shouldn’t be a stretch for him.
What else am I looking forward to? (For you, it’s already past.)
Well, for one thin, the fate of poor Oliver Queen – other-named Arrow – last seen kneeling before the sinister Ras Al Ghul, a helpless captive. Ras stabbed him with a sword and kicked him off a mountain a while back, so is Ollie doomed to suffer a similar fate, perhaps again administered by a Ras who may have gotten a bit better at hero slaying? Nope. Ras is trying to recruit him into Ras’s criminal organization, The League of Assassins. (Good pay? Good benefits?)
This is not the first time Ras has gone hero-trolling. In the long ago when he was a mere comic book character, before being incarnated as a mega-movie star and a continuing presence in Arrow Ras made a similar move on Batman, sweetening the deal by suggesting that Bats and Ras’s daughter Talia might become an item and, yes indeedy, Talia would make a splendid trophy wife if she could just get past her daddy issues. Bats refused both job and lady and lived to fight another day but who knows what Ollie will do? (Well, actually, at this point, a lot of people. All those writers and actors and technicians…)
I like how our TV brethren are adapting some Batman tropes for Arrow. It’s a good match of characters: both the bat and the arrow are human-scaled, depending on skill and perseverance and motivation rather than some acquired superpower, and both are burdened with a tragic past. Since I prefer such characters I’ve always liked working on these two when I was a laboring scripter. Consider that an admission of bias.
Ras al Ghul, as some of you know, is a twisted idealist who wants to save the world – on his own terms, using his own methods, which are, to put it mildly, draconian. Pure fiction. But I look out at the snow and remember the savage winter which is not yet gone, and learn of the escalating barbarity in the middle east, and I wonder: Could there be a Ras?
But no, the reality is simpler and sadder, well expressed by Pogo the Possum: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”