Tonight we said goodbye to Oliver Queen. Technically, we’ve done that already in Crisis on Inifite Earths but it’s for real this time. Oliver’s tale has finally come to an end with the final episode of Arrow that aired on the CW. For 8 years we’ve seen the growth of a character from D-list hero in the DC Universe pantheon, to a character that came to be the central figure in the greatest superhero tv universe created.
Were it not for Stephen Amell, it would never have happened.
From Jouneyman to Icon
Amell was a journeyman actor, who had yet to last anywhere outside of some guest appearances. He appeared on hit shows like Hung on HBO and Fox’s New Girl; had recurring roles on The Vampire Diaries and Private Practice. Amell also won a Gemini Award, Canada’s equivalent of an Emmy. His career turning point was being cast as Oliver Queen, and he killed it. Its now near impossible to think of anyone else playing him.
Amell was effective because he embraced the role so much. His social media account posted videos of him doing the legendary salmon ladder. It sold fans on his dedication to the role, showcasing his physicality. The guy was legit! Up till 2012, the though of playing a superhero on TV was viewed as a novelty or a joke. Amell changed all of that through his earnest portrayal of the vengeful Oliver Queen in Season one.
Growing a Universe and connecting with fans
A lot of credit goes to Marc Guggenheim, Beth Schwartz and Greg Berlanti. They cast Amell as Oliver and then surrounded him with a cast of unknowns who became gems in the eyes of legions of fans. David Ramsey (Diggle), Katie Cassidy (Laurel), Emily Bett Rickards (Felicity) coalesced around Amell and sparked the birth of the Arrowverse. Something that had never been done on TV before, a fully realized superhero universe rivaled only by it’s Marvel cinematic counterpart.
Stephen endeared himself to the fans at Comic-cons across the nation. He even parlayed his badass role as a arrow-slinging vigilante into a couple appearances on Monday Night Raw. It was this type of whole-hearted acceptance of geek culture that fueled the Arrowverse. His fellow Arrowverse co-stars never followed suit to the same degree, and that only helped set Amell apart.
He turned himself into the champion of superhero TV shows, even when Marvel started to try and compete. It was Amell’s early performances that kept the Arrowverse going strong. The chemistry he shared with everyone made things flow easy. It continued when The Flash showed up in Season two and Oliver morphed into the go-to guy for everything despite not having powers.
Sure, it stinks that Arrow was essentially a Batman allegory, given WB’s silly policies concerning their heroes. Yet were it not for Stephen Amell, the Arrowverse never works.
He was truly, the hero we didn’t know we needed. We were lucky to have had him. Thank you so much Stephen Amell.
You NEVER failed your fans. Salute.