Oliver Queen (Arrowverse)
Stephen Amell in his costume during the first season. Photographed by Jack Rowand.
October 10, 2012
|Abilities||Master archer and martial artist, highly skilled tactician, polyglot|
Oliver Queen is a fictional character in the television series Arrow, based on the DC Comics superhero Green Arrow, created by Mort Weisinger and George Papp. Adapted for television in 2012 by Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg, Oliver Queen has been continually portrayed by Stephen Amell and is the alter-ego of the vigilante Green Arrow. This is the second time the character has been adapted to a live-action television series; the first time was on the series Smallville, where the character appeared over the course of five seasons and was portrayed by Justin Hartley.
In the series, Oliver is a billionaire playboy who returns to Starling City after five years of being stranded after a shipwreck and presumed dead. He spends his nights as a hooded vigilante named the "Arrow" who stops crime in the city. During the first season, Oliver focuses on a list, written by his father, of targets that are taking advantage of the citizens. Subsequent seasons have him venturing into all criminal activity, and he shifts from being willing to kill to having a rule against all killing as a means of stopping assailants. In Arrow, Oliver does not take up the name of Green Arrow until season four. This is due to everyone believing the "Arrow" to be dead, and putting him in need of a new identity. He is a friend and frequent ally of the Central City-based superhero The Flash.
Oliver Queen and his vigilante persona have also appeared in a digital comic book series, and with Amell appearing in crossovers on the television series The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, and the animated web series Vixen, all set within the Arrowverse. Amell has been nominated for various awards for his performance, including a People's Choice and Leo Award. Amell has received praise from critics who frequently cite his portrayal of the Oliver Queen persona over the hooded vigilante.
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Oliver Queen first appears in the pilot episode of Arrow. Having been shipwrecked five years earlier following the destruction of his family yacht "The Queen's Gambit", he is discovered on the deserted island of Lian Yu by fishermen. Oliver returns to Starling City and is greeted by his mother Moira (Susanna Thompson), his sister Thea (Willa Holland), his best friend Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell), and ex-girlfriend Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy). Unknown to his friends and family, Oliver has returned to Starling City to carry out a plan of redemption for his father, who was with him during the ship wreck and died while stranded on the island, and whom Oliver believes failed to do everything he could to help the citizens of Starling City. Season one focuses on Oliver readjusting to life during the day, and spending his nights dressed as a hooded vigilante. As his vigilante persona, Oliver carries a bow and arrows, and acts as judge, jury, and if necessary executioner to the wealthy that have used their money and power to take advantage and hurt the citizens of Starling City, and in the process embroiled into conflicts with some of the city's criminals including the Triad leader China White (Kelly Hu) and drug lord The Count (Seth Gabel).
In the episodes "Lone Gunman" and "The Odyssey", Oliver is forced to reveal his identity to his bodyguard John Diggle (David Ramsey) and Queen Consolidated IT specialist Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards). Afterward, each joins Oliver in his quest to save Starling City from a mysterious group who is determined to destroy the Glades, an area of Starling City filled with crime and the underprivileged. Ultimately, Oliver discovers that the group's leader is Tommy's father Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman), who is also responsible for Oliver's family's yacht's sabotage and thus his own father's death, which leads Oliver and the elder Merlyn to become enemies. Season one also features flashbacks to Oliver's time on Lian Yu and the inhabitants that he encounters while there. In season one, Oliver meets Yao Fei (Byron Mann) and Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett), who teach Oliver how to survive on the island, training him to fight and use a bow, while plotting to stop Edward Fyers (Sebastian Dunn) from taking out a Chinese commercial airliner.
In season two, Oliver is initially found back on the island, having returned as penance for what he views a personal responsibility for the successful destruction of the Glades and the loss of his best friend. He eventually returns to save his family's company, and decides that he needs to honor his friend by stopping crime in the city without killing. Oliver spends season two being harassed by Slade Wilson, who survived Lian Yu and arrives in Starling City determined to make Oliver suffer the way Slade did on the island. By the end of the season, Oliver has lost his company to Slade, and must contend with an army of soldiers with superhuman strength that are determined to destroy Starling City on Slade's orders. Oliver and his friends—which now includes trained assassin Sara Lance (Caity Lotz), an aspiring vigilante named Roy Harper (Colton Haynes), and members of the League of Assassins—are able to stop the army and Slade. Season two flashbacks focused on the deteriorating relationship between Oliver and Slade, the discovery of a formula that can create super strength and near invulnerability, and a group of prisoners being experimented upon just off the coast of the island.
In season three, Oliver is brought into a confrontation with Ra's al Ghul (Matthew Nable) after Sara's death. In order to protect his sister, who had been drugged and coerced into killing Sara by Malcolm, Oliver claims responsibility for the murder and engages Ra's in a trial by combat. After surviving the sword of Ra's al Ghul, he is pursued by Ra's to become the new leader of the League. After Ra's mortally wounds Thea, Oliver accepts his offer so that he can use the Lazarus Pit to save Thea. In "Al-Sahim", Oliver appears in Starling City to kill Nyssa al Ghul, who also claims the title of "Heir to the Demon", where it is revealed that he has been brainwashed by Ra's into renouncing all things "Oliver Queen". In "This is Your Sword", it is shown that Oliver is actually lying to Ra's, and planning to destroy the League from the inside. The season three finale features Oliver killing Ra's, and subsequently giving up being a hero for Starling City and leaving to have a new life with Felicity. Over the course of the season, Laurel and Thea take over Sara and Roy's roles on the team. Season three flashbacks focused on Oliver living in Hong Kong and training under Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) and her subordinates.
In season four, after retiring from vigilantism, Oliver has live a happy life with Felicity Smoak at Ivy Town, until Thea and Laurel approach him, telling that they need him back at the newly rechristened Star City, which has been taken over by "Ghosts". He eventually discovers that the mastermind is H.I.V.E.'s leader Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough), and become enemies with Darhk as both himself and his vigilante alter-ego. As the "Arrow" persona has been tarnished, Oliver now goes by the codename "Green Arrow" as he becomes a vigilante once again, but as a symbol of hope for the city, gradually regaining Diggle's trust. Oliver also decides to run for mayor of Star City. During this time, Oliver discovers that he is the biological father to a nine-year child named William (Jack Moore), with Samantha Clayton (Anna Hopkins), a college classmate whom Oliver had a one-night stand during his relationship with Laurel. This discovery complicates his relationship with Felicity and his duty as Green Arrow, as well as threatens to jeopardize his mayoral campaign. After subsequent attacks from Darhk leaving Felicity permanently paraplegic, his son being kidnapped and Laurel is killed, leading Oliver to take his opportunity to kill Darhk when it arises, while his team helps avert Darhk's plans for a nuclear holocaust. Season four flashbacks focus on Oliver returning to Lian Yu on Amanda Waller's orders to infiltrate the mysterious Shadowspire organization.
In season five, Oliver recruits a team of vigilantes to help balanced his double life as Green Arrow and Star City's mayor. He is also stalked by a mysterious archer, Prometheus (Josh Segarra), who has some troublesome link to his past. Later Oliver figures out that Prometheus is someone close to him. Oliver also facing with the possibility that his life might have inadvertently affected by his best friend and ally Barry Allen's time-travelling actions. The season's flashbacks explores Oliver time in Russia, where he joins the Bratva as part of an assassination ploy against Konstantin Kovar and exploring the criminal fraternity in the process. There, he meets and being trained by one of Ra's al Ghul's daughters, Talia al Ghul (Lexa Doig), as a hooded archer, before eventually returning to Lian Yu and subsequently Starling City.
In season six, after a series of battles with Prometheus led to Samantha's death, Oliver struggles to raise William himself and tries to have a relationship with his son. After he and Felicity rekindled their romance, they eventually married at Central City with Barry Allen and Iris West. Oliver also develops a feud with hacktivist Cayden James and his cabal, and also discovers Ricardo Diaz is manipulating them to against each other before battling Oliver himself after killing James. By the end of the season, Oliver is forced to turn himself in to the F.B.I. in exchange of their aids against Diaz, reveals to the world that he is Green Arrow in the process.
In season seven, Oliver tries to get his sentence reduced for good behaviors in hopes to return to his family, but is complicated by some of his old enemies who are imprisoned with him and in addition some inmates who work for Diaz. He learns that there is another vigilante archer in Star City, whom the media dubs as the new Green Arrow. Through the news reports, Oliver discovers that the vigilante's skills and tactics eerily match his.
Amell has appeared as Oliver Queen in each season of all four Arrowverse shows, (Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Vixen), one of only two characters to do so, as well as appearing in the Supergirl portion of the crossover events. He would make a guest appearance as Oliver's vigilante persona in the pilot episode of The Flash to give some advice to Barry Allen on becoming a hero. Following that, he appeared in The Flash's eighth episode, titled "Flash vs. Arrow", where he learns about metahumans and is forced to fight Barry after the latter is chemically brainwashed into becoming volatile and physically aggressive. Queen also appeared in the twenty-second episode of The Flash, "Rogue Air", helping Barry and Firestorm defeat the Reverse Flash. He voiced the character in the web series Vixen, in which he and Barry track down new Mari McCabe, the wielder of the Tantu totem who becomes the mystical vigilante Vixen and become her allies. Oliver later appeared in a two-part crossover spanning the Flash season two episode "Legends of Today" and the Arrow season four episode "Legends of Yesterday", with his and Barry's respective teams working together to stop Vandal Savage. He briefly appears in the pilot episode of Legends of Tomorrow, advising Ray Palmer on joining Rip Hunter's time-travelling mission. Oliver appears once again in Legends of Tomorrow, in its sixth episode, as a possible 2046 version of the character. This version has a goatee and is missing his left arm with a cybernetic prosthesis, a nod to the portrayal of the character in The Dark Knight Returns and The Dark Knight Strikes Again. In 2016, all three shows- along with Supergirl- come together in the "Invasion!" storyline, where the Dominators attack Earth and the various heroes must band together to fight them off, forcing Oliver to face his role as the indirect catalyst of the modern age of heroes as he helps Barry Allen coordinate Earth's metahuman defenses. Another crossover of the four shows occurred the following year, in the "Crisis on Earth-X" storyline, with Oliver joined forces with the heroes of his world and Earth-38 to battle against invaders from the parallel world of Earth-X; he faces his fascistic parallel universe doppelgänger Dark Arrow (also portrayed by Amell when unmasked), whom Oliver is outraged to discover of his counterpart's villainy and determined to kill Dark Arrow to end his threats.
Amell was cast as Queen in January 2012, and was the first actor to audition for the role, with Kreisberg saying that Amell "hit the target from the outset" and "everyone else just paled in comparison". Producer Marc Guggenheim expressed that the creative team wanted to "chart [their] own course, [their] own destiny", and avoid any direct connections to Smallville, which featured its own Green Arrow/Oliver Queen (Justin Hartley), opting to cast a new actor in the role. It was also the first script that Amell auditioned for during pilot season, having received multiple scripts at the start of the year. For Amell, the appeal of portraying Queen was that he saw multiple roles tied to the same character: "There’s Queen the casual playboy; Queen the wounded hero; Queen the brooding Hamlet; Queen the lover; Queen the man of action, and so on." The actor, who was already in shape from Rent-a-Goalie, did physical fitness training at Tempest Freerunning Academy out of Reseda, California. Amell received archery training as well, which included watching a video on how archery has been displayed inaccurately or poorly in television and film before learning the basics of shooting a bow. Amell describes the up-keep on his fitness as the biggest physical challenge of the series. Amell stated that he has to "steal time at the gym", and spends time on set being active.
In season one, Oliver is not afraid to kill criminals when he deems it necessary. Pilot episode director David Nutter believes that, following the time on the island, Oliver returns to Starling City with Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and this contributes to his willingness to kill. Amell stated,"Killing people is gonna start to weigh on Oliver. He can't [complete his mission] by himself. He's gonna have to lean on somebody." Amell describes Oliver as having to battle himself in season one. Similarly identifying Oliver as having PTSD, Amell sees the character as a "damaged individual" who is a "ticking time bomb"; Oliver is not only doing good things, but falling along the way. For Amell, the character's damaged nature will weigh on him throughout season one, because he must hide his new self from his family, and masquerade as the "entitled jerk" that he once was.
Oliver has multiple romantic relationships over the course of the series. Prior to being marooned on the island, Oliver was dating Laurel Lance and briefly rekindles this relationship at the end of season one. He also had an affair with her sister Sara, who was on board the yacht with him when it was sabotaged. This later develops into a full relationship with her after she is revealed to have survived, and returns to Starling City in season two. In season three, he confesses to Felicity Smoak that he is in love with her, and the two enter a relationship by season end. They later become engaged, although the engagement and relationship come to an end in the episode "Taken". The pair begin to rekindle their relationship towards the end of season five, which continues into the season six premiere. During the 2017 Arrowverse crossover, the couple marry.
Whilst Katie Cassidy has previously expressed that she saw Laurel and Oliver as soul mates Stephen Amell has stated that although he believes Oliver will always care for Laurel, that love is from "a different part of his life", and it is Felicity who he is in love with now. This is supported by Emily Bett Rickards, who believes Oliver and Felicity are soul mates, a sentiment echoed by Amell. Early in season six Amell stated, regarding the couples reconcilliation, that "They have so much history together that it’s just a matter of when’s the right time?". Show-runner/Executive Producer Wendy Mericle described the emotional journey Oliver goes through during the 2017 Arrowverse crossover (in which he and Felicity marry), as one where he "explores the question of true love".
Oliver also has connections with the other characters on the show. Amell sees the relationship between Oliver and his mother, upon his return from the island, as almost adversarial. To him, the Queen family has many skeletons in their closets, which helped them to amass their wealth, and his return is a threat to that way of life. Oliver's relationship with his younger sister Thea changes once he returns from the island as well. Amell notes that Thea looks up to Oliver before he went missing, but it was an Oliver that was immature and a jerk. When he returns, Thea has taken over that role and Oliver has to recognize that his behaviors before impeded his ability to get through to Thea in season one.
The realistic approach to the series included the costume design for Oliver's vigilante persona, created by Colleen Atwood. According to Amell, it was important for the suit to be functional, and the best way that he knew for that was if he could put the costume on by himself: "If I can put it on by myself, I think that people will buy it. And that was our idea. That’s our world." In season four, Oliver acquires a new costume. Designed by Maya Mani at the end of season three, the costume originally had full sleeves. After input from producer Greg Berlanti and Amell, Mani redesigned the costume to show off the character's biceps, and be more reflective of the comic book counterpart. According to Mani, "I wanted it to be tactical, so the shoulders are a little tougher [...] I also wanted him to be able to remove a layer or be in the layer and still be the Arrow, but not have the full fig on."
In the second half of season two, Oliver replaces his "painted" mask with a domino mask gifted to him by Barry, similar to one worn by the character in the comics. The change is addressed on-screen, with Kreisberg saying, "He doesn't just put on a mask. It's actually a big plot point in an episode, and there really is a story behind, not only the need for the mask but also who provides him with it." On adding the mask now, Kreisberg stated that, "Conceptually, it was something we wanted to do because Oliver himself is evolving as the Arrow—from vigilante to hero, sort of from Arrow to Green Arrow—and we wanted to see that progression in his costume as well. As Oliver is embracing being a hero, being a hero means stepping out of the dark and being more of a symbol, so he has to take steps to conceal his identity more." He added that it will "allow the Arrow to interact with people who don't know his identity in a much more organic way than having him constantly keep his head down."
Costume designer Maya Mani put together roughly 50 mask options for the producers. Various designs reminded the creative team of something Joel Schumacher would create. Kreisberg said, "What's so wonderful about the design that Maya came up with is that it really is very simple, and it feels as if it’s been part of his costume since the beginning...once we finally had this mask and put it on Stephen [Amell], even Stephen was like, 'This is the right one.'" In the season two episode "Three Ghosts", Oliver receives the mask from Barry, who is able to create a mask that will help conceal his identity, while still being functional and allowing Oliver to see clearly.
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- The unseen Oliver Queen of Earth-2 died when the Queen’s Gambit went down in 2007, causing a series of alternate events. Robert Queen conversely survived the boat sinking and became the Green Arrow himself, driven by his grief and need to honor his son. Oliver’s girlfriend, Dinah Laurel Lance, was so devastated by his death that she left Starling City in order to start fresh in Central City. When Central City’s particle accelerator exploded, Dinah became a metahuman with powers similar to the Canary Cry, but does not become the Black Canary. Instead, her grief drives her into a downward spiral, and she eventually becomes the criminal henchmen Black Siren.
- On Earth-X (Earth-53), where the Axis Forces won World War II which resulted in Nazi Germany’s world domination, Oliver Queen (also portrayed by Amell when unmasked) is the Dark Arrow and Adolf Hitler's successor as Führer. He is married to Overgirl, the Earth-X version of Kara Zor-El, and has been best friends with the Earth-X version of Tommy Merlyn, who is Earth-X’s Prometheus, since childhood just like the Earth-1 versions of Tommy and Oliver. Dark Arrow is also a member of the supervillain team, the New Reichsmen, which includes Overgirl, Prometheus, and Eobard Thawne / Reverse-Flash (of Earth-1), who goes by "Dark Flash." Dark Arrow travels to Earth-1 with his Nazis and fellow New Reichmen to capture his wife's Earth-38 doppelgänger, Supergirl, before launching an invasion against parallel Earths, as Earth-X Kara is terminally ill and in need of a heart transplant. Though Green Arrow vows to kill Dark Arrow, he did offered his fascistic counterpart the help of saving Overgirl's life, urging him to listen to reasons and not wasting time therefore trying to resolve their feud peacefully. Dark Arrow's plans are ultimately foiled by Green Arrow and his allies, and he is killed in the final battle of the "Crisis on Earth-X" crossover when, distracted after witnessing the explosive death of his wife, is shot in the chest by his Earth-1 doppelgänger. Later, in an episode of The Flash, "Fury Rogue," reveals that Dark Arrow, like his doppelgänger, was also romantically involved with his world's Laurel Lance, who is the Nazi regime's metahuman assassin Siren-X, before his marriage to Overgirl. The New Reich has also fallen following his and Overgirl's deaths, and the Freedom Fighters are suppressing their remaining followers. This version (but named Black Arrow) also appears in the animated web series Freedom Fighters: The Ray, voiced by Matthew Mercer.
In 2013, Stephen Amell was nominated for multiple awards. He received a Teen Choice Award nomination for "Choice TV Actor: Fantasy/Sci-Fi", and a nomination for the People's Choice Award for "Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Actor". He followed that with three nominations in 2014; a Leo Award for "Best Lead Male Performance", a Constellation Award for "Best Male Performance in a 2013 Science Fiction Television Episode", and a Young Hollywood Award nomination for "Super Superhero".
Andy Greenwald of Grantland wrote that Amell deserves a "great deal of the credit" for Arrow's success, as he brings a subtle humor hidden beneath his "Hollister veneer". Greenwald goes on to state that Amell's performance as Oliver Queen makes that persona a more interesting character than the Arrow. Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker acknowledged Amell's range as an actor for the series premiere: "Amell is no mere muscle-head as an actor — he let confusion, dismay, disappointment, and resolve play across his face at the right moments, even when the dialogue became stilted or clunky." Neil Genzlinger wrote in The New York Times that Amell was "just inscrutable enough to pull off the transition from the playboy he was before the shipwreck to the avenging, bow-wielding Green Arrow he becomes on his return to civilization". The San Francisco Chronicle's David Wiegand came to a similar conclusion, stating Amell has the "acting skill that enables him to be convincing both as rescued rich kid Oliver Queen and as his green-hooded alter ego, Arrow". In contrast, The Guardian's Stephen Kelly found Amell more "uncomfortable and awkward" in the role, which made it difficult to like his character as a "traumatised badass".
Arrow's Oliver Queen first appeared in a prequel comic that tied into the television series, before being developed into an ongoing digital comic that lasted 36 chapters and featured various storylines. The next year, the character appeared in Arrow 2.5, a bi-weekly series that bridged the gap between the end of season two and the start of season three.
The character also features in tie-in novels published for the series, Arrow: Vengeance, written by Oscar Balderrama and Lauren Certo, The Flash: The Haunting of Barry Allen written by Susan and Clay Griffith, and its sequel Arrow: A Generation of Vipers from the same authors. He also appears in the tie-in novel Arrow: Fatal Legacies, co-authored by Marc Guggenheim and James R. Tuck, published in January 2018. The novel bridged the gap between the season five finale and the season six premiere of Arrow.
A representation of Amell's character has appeared in two video game products. The 2013 game Injustice: Gods Among Us contains downloadable content that features an optional costume for Green Arrow based on Queen's appearance in the first season. Amell provides his voice and likeness to the costume. 2014's Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham features an Arrow downloadable content pack that includes Oliver Queen in his Arrow persona, as well as a bonus level set on Lian Yu in which Oliver trains with Slade and raids Fyers' camp to destroy a weapons stockpile. Amell also voices the traditional Green Arrow in the game.
In May 2015, Amell revealed he had discussions with DC Entertainment to portray the character on Constantine, a show that was initially not depicted as existing in the shared universe created by The CW series, saying, "The reason that I was going to guest star on Constantine, at least the idea that we were throwing around was [Constantine's] an expert when it comes to the Lazarus Pit, which is now something that is a part of and will continue to be a part of Arrow." Amell stated that, even though Constantine was not renewed for a second season on NBC, a crossover "was and is still on the table". In August 2015, it was confirmed that Matt Ryan, who portrayed Constantine, would appear on Arrow in the fourth-season episode "Haunted", per a "one-time-only-deal".
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