At Comicon-2012's preview night, I was fortunate enough to see the pilot for the CW's upcoming Arrow, a show that aims to brings big budget, superhero action to the small screen in a way that's true enough to traditional comic book action to be beloved by hardcore geeks, but stylish and accessible enough to be appreciated by anyone.
Stephen Amell plays The Arrow, the super-heroic alter-ego of billionaire Oliver Queen. He's based on DC Comics' The Green Arrow, but seems to have dropped the "Green" part of his name. No great loss. The series begins with Queen being rescued from a barren island. He's spent the last five years as a castaway, presumed dead, and the experience has definitely changed Queen. He was once a feckless, monied playboy, but now he's a brooding and badass super-hero. Somehow, his experience on the island has taught him martial arts and almost supernatural marksmanship, unlike Tom Hanks, who only learned impromptu dentistry.
Back in civilization, Queen reconnects with old friends and sets himself up with a proper hero-lair, filled with high-tech toys and electronics. There's a lot of Batman and Iron Man about Arrow, but his main inspiration seems to be Robin Hood. Arrow/Queen has returned to his unnamed city with a bow, arrows and a green hood, and a plan to redistribute the wealth from the cities crooks to its deserving poor.
His first target: Adam Hunt, evil swindler. Arrow wants Hunt to give up the green -- 40 million dollars worth -- and not to spoil too much, but the bow and arrow come into play to force Hunt's compliance.
The action sequences are fast and frantic, big set pieces that look like they could have been shot for a feature film, and the bad guys and good guys are broadly drawn, just like in the comic books. It's a fun ride, tonally more Iron Man than Dark Knight. While Arrow never fails to take the whole super-hero thing super-seriously, there are welcome moments of levity too. Example: Queen asks what Twilight is, and his friend replies, "You're better off not knowing." (Sorry, Twi-heads.)
When Arrow premieres on October 10, comic-book and action fans should set their Tivo's.