After Zack Snyder’s Justice League, I’ve been reconnecting with my inner DC fan. I watched the whole Harley Quinn series, Young Justice has become my workout show, and I’ve been playing a gross amount of Injustice 2 when plenty of new games are coming out and waiting on my PS5’s hard drive. And I decided to look into some other DC games, specifically ones that would allow me to play as my main squeeze: Green Arrow.
Turns out, there aren’t a lot of those. And not only is a huge shame because the archery king deserves to be the star in something that isn’t an eight-season television series that made him a Batman clone and also a cop. But because there are interesting places a team could take a hypothetical video game that could elevate it above the beat ‘em up stylings that seem to be most popular with DC’s video games as of late.
He’s not fucking Batman
Without question, Bruce Wayne and the various members of the “Bat Family” have had more time in the video game spotlight than any other DC superhero. If it’s not about Batman directly, it’s usually about someone adjacent to him. He’s also usually the centerpiece for ensemble games, like Injustice. And while Rocksteady’s upcoming Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is a nice change of pace, Bats is probably going to be a major player in that, as well. Er, assuming the ending of Batman: Arkham Knight which included a Batman-like figure fighting crime means Bruce faked his death at the end.
The origin story would be a dope survival game
For those that don’t know, in modern continuities, Oliver Queen’s origin story involves him washing up on a deserted island and learning to survive with a bow and arrow. Long gone is his privileged life as a billionaire, and he spends a year (or five depending on if you’re talking about the Arrow iteration) on the island cut off from the rest of the world. This setup could be its own game, with players learning to survive, scavenge resources, and use Ollie’s bow before he was a trained, precise superhero saving Star City. Playing as Oliver before he was the Green Arrow would allow for meaningful progression, as he slowly makes his way from spoiled billionaire to skilled survivalist. I can imagine early sections of trying to hunt for food with only a few fragile arrows, creating shelter, and as upgrades and resources come, the effectiveness of Oliver’s bow illustrates his transformation into the Green Arrow we know today.
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We could use some levity in a DC Comics game
As I said before, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League feels like a good palate cleanser for Rocksteady, since the team won’t be focusing on Batman and will instead take on characters like Harley Quinn and King Shark. It opens up the game to a different tone than the often stoic and self serious Arkham series. Bruce is the straight man fighting a bunch of weirdos in clown makeup, so it makes sense that the tone of his game would follow suit. But despite what Arrow would have you believe, Green Arrow is a hero that is not only sassy, quick-witted, and capable of bringing some levity to character dynamics, his stories are hopeful and rooted in social equity. Which means…
He’s a hero who stands for something
Green Arrow is an overtly political hero. I’ve been re-reading Green Arrow: Rebirth, and it almost caught me off guard to be reminded just how political he can be. In the Justice League film, Batman says his superpower is that he’s rich. This is a long running joke among fans, as all his crime fighting is thanks to his never ending budget. But it’s not often that Batman stories have reckoned with Bruce’s billionaire status in a critical way. Meanwhile, Oliver is a person who has felt the powerlessness of losing all his resources and having to survive with less than the bare minimum, and it fuels his desire to do good for the little people. His Rebirth series began with homeless people, and others who weren’t on the public’s radar, being kidnapped and no one taking notice. He even calls himself a “social justice warrior,” willing to fight for those who have been failed by the system, often targeting corrupt politicians and public figures. After years of experiencing mostly Batman stories, it was an important reframing of what it means to be a superhero that has endeared me to Green Arrow over the years. Batman stories often place him at the center of a broken criminal justice system, where Green Arrow looks at the system, sees it for what it is, and believes it can be better.
Archery opens up the genre
A lot of DC’s video games have felt a little samey over the years. Between Batman: Arkham and the various Lego games, DC’s output has been leaning heavily into beat ’em up staples, and even the upcoming Gotham Knights carries that with it. This comes with the territory, as most superheroes can reliably accomplish what they need to do with a well placed punch and a kick, and maybe a cool flip over an enemy. But Green Arrow’s use of a bow could allow for some genre blending. Things like the cover shooting stealth elements of The Last of Us and Tomb Raider immediately come to mind, and Ollie would be well equipped for that style of game. And if he’s caught and it all goes to shit? He’s a skilled hand-to-hand fighter, too. Focusing on a hero with a different tool kit and specialization could help alleviate some of the monotony of several DC action games.
He’s probably popular enough by now, right?
Despite my disdain for its character choices, Arrow did spawn an entire television universe at The CW, and it made Green Arrow a household name in a way he really wasn’t before. If this hypothetical game I’m asking for was based off of the show or was heavily inspired by it, I’d be disappointed, as it would likely miss what I think helps the character standout against his Dark Knight contemporaries. But its success proves people do care about Oliver Queen. And they stuck with him through some atrocious seasons.
Anyway, any WB Games folks who happen to see this, feel free to take these ideas and slide them across the desk of whoever needs to see them. Thank you.