Jeremy explores many topics as he juggles his passion for writing with his career as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Spoilers galore for Batman, Spider-Man, and especially Arrow ahead.
As Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman dominate DC Comics on the silver screen, Arrow reigns supreme on television. With its elegant revamping of the previously oft-forgotten Green Arrow character, Arrow not only drew fans by the masses but inspired other DC spin-offs like Flash.
Yet despite the show's success, savvy fans may note several resemblances between Arrow characters and other famous superheroes. And no, we're not talking about cameos it actually borrowed; Deadshot is Deadshot, Hawkgirl is Hawkgirl, etc. We're discussing original characters (or at least heavily-cloned ones) and the remarkable similarities they bear to the cast of the Caped Crusader and Wall Crawler. These are seven characters Arrow copies from the worlds of Batman (a fellow DC hero) and Spider-Man (a Marvel hero)!
1. Rich Playboy by Day, Vigilante by Night
Batman (Bruce Wayne): Acting as a spoiled billionaire by day, the orphaned Bruce Wayne masquerades as Batman by night to save his hometown, Gotham City. Despite fierce intelligence and combat prowess, he wields no actual superpowers. Bruce became Batman by enduring harsh training across the globe and will torture (but not kill) foes to stop crime.
Green Arrow (Oliver Queen): Acting as a spoiled billionaire by day, the orphaned Oliver Queen masquerades as Green Arrow by night to save his hometown, Starling City. Despite fierce intelligence and combat prowess, he wields no actual superpowers. Oliver became the Green Arrow by enduring harsh training across the globe and will torture (and tries not to kill) foes to stop crime.
Differences: Oliver often adopts Batman's no-kill policies, but circumstances usually force him to break these oaths; it's hard not to murder when your main weapon is a bow. Both men are orphans, though Bruce lost his family at a very young age, while Oliver's parents, particularly his mother, lasted longer. Oliver also seems much more fond of tattoos than Bruce.
2. Prosecutor and Sometimes Love Interest
Rachel Dawes: Appearing only in Christopher Nolan's film trilogy, Rachel tackles injustice by prosecuting criminals in the courtroom. She has known Bruce since childhood, ultimately learns his secret identity, and reluctantly chooses Harvey Dent over him as her love.
Laurel Lance: Appearing only in Arrow, Laurel tackles injustice by prosecuting criminals in the courtroom. She has known Oliver since childhood, ultimately learns his secret identity, and reluctantly chooses Tommy Merlyn over him as her love.
Laurel also bears similarities to fellow Batman character Barbara Gordon: both are daughters of the police leaders of their respective towns (Captain Quentin Lance and Commissioner Jim Gordon), and both fight crime behind a black mask (as Black Canary and Batgirl).
In her series, Laurel eventually takes a vigilante role herself, while Rachel fought crime strictly within the courthouse.
3. Reluctant Head of Police
Jim Gordon: Police commissioner Jim Gordon hesitantly accepts Batman's aid in combating crime throughout Gotham. He often frets over the safety of his daughter, Barbara, who fights crime as Batgirl. In some adaptations, Jim and his first wife are separated.
Quentin Lance: Police captain Quentin Lance hesitantly accepts Green Arrow's aid in combating crime throughout Starling. He often frets over the safety of his daughter, Laurel, who fights crime as Black Canary. Quentin and his first wife are separated.
Differences: While Jim is near-always on Batman's side, Quentin fluctuates back-and-forth between reluctant supporter and antagonistic pursuer for Green Arrow. Quentin also takes time to rise the ranks of his department, while we see Jim at the top from the get-go.
Parallels with J. Jonah Jameson
Quentin also bears similarities to J. Jonah Jameson from Spider-Man. Though Jameson isn't law enforcement, he's an authority figure (head of the popular Daily Bugle newspaper), and vehemently speaks against the masked web-slinger just as Quentin sometimes does against Green Arrow.
Plus, even when not donning the mask, Spider-Man (as Peter Parker) comes into contact with Jameson through his employment for the Daily Bugle, and Green Arrow (as Oliver Queen) comes into contact with Quentin through his connections to Laurel. Beyond that, both Jameson and Quentin share a gruff but well-intentioned demeanor.
4. Vigilante, Tech Support and Sometimes Love Interest
Oracle/Batgirl (Barbara Gordon): Barbara Gordon, a sometimes romantic interest of Bruce, helps him battle crime as Batgirl. After the Joker cripples her spinal cord, Barbara is confined to a wheelchair, but still aids Bruce with her technical expertise under new alias Oracle.
Overwatch (Felicity Smoak): Felicity Smoak, a sometimes romantic interest of Oliver, helps him battle crime as Overwatch, though strictly through tech support. After Damian Dark's men cripple her spinal cord, Felicity is confined to a wheelchair, but still aids Oliver with her technical expertise.
Differences: Felicity has the fortune to walk again after only a handful of episodes in the wheelchair thanks to a cutting-edge microchip; Barbara's condition remains with her. Felicity also has a dweeby "adorkable" personality juxtaposing Barbara's cool and calm.
5. Best Friend/Love Triangle Rival
Harry Osborn: Rich kid Harry Osborn competes with his old friend Peter for Mary Jane's affections. His mother deceased, Harry struggles to gain the attention of his father, who (unbeknownst to Harry) is a murdering psychopath. Harry ultimately discovers Peter's alter-ego, the two clash, and barely make amends before Harry's death.
Tommy Merlyn: Rich kid Tommy competes with his old friend Oliver for Laurel's affections. His mother deceased, Tommy struggles to gain the attention of his father, who (unbeknownst to Tommy) is a murdering psychopath. Tommy ultimately discovers Oliver's alter-ego, the two clash, and barely make amends before Tommy's death. Poor guy didn't last through season 1, let alone season 6 (although he reappears for a few flashbacks).
Differences: Harry's differences with Peter temporarily turn him into an actual villain for Spider-Man whereas Tommy's differences with Oliver only create a rift between the two.
6. Daughter-Heir to the League of Assassins
Admittedly, Talia herself eventually makes an appearance in Arrow, but not until the fifth season. Much earlier, in Season 2, Nyssa was borrowing elements of Talia, likely long before Talia was ever scheduled to arrive on-scene.
Talia al Ghul: Daughter to centuries-old Ra's al Ghul, head of the League of Assassins, brutal warrior Talia has a complicated relationship with Batman, serving as both ally and foe. Talia and Bruce share a strained but sometimes romantic bond.
Nyssa al Gul: Daughter to centuries-old Ra's al Ghul, head of the League of Assassins, brutal warrior Nyssa has a complicated relationship with Green Arrow, serving as both ally and foe. Talia and Oliver share a strained but sometimes romantic bond (sort of, see below).
Differences: Bruce and Talia kindle some actual affection compared to Oliver and Nyssa, who were never really in love, but married as ceremony.
7. Best Friend's Father, the Supervillain
The Green Goblin (Norman Osborn): Rich and deadly rival to Spider-Man, widower Norman discovers Peter's secret identity and assaults the superhero both physically and emotionally. Even after his death, Norman haunts Peter through his lasting influence on Harry.
The Dark Archer (Malcolm Merlyn): Rich and deadly rival to Green Arrow, widower Malcolm discovers Oliver's secret identity and assaults the hero both physically and emotionally. Even after his defeat, Malcolm haunts Oliver with a variety of twisted machinations and influence over Oliver's sister Thea.
Differences: Norman dies while Malcolm lives (as of this writing, at least), and Norman possesses actual superpowers whereas Malcolm relies on intelligence and skill.
Bonus: Metal-Suit Clad Billionaire
Iron Man (Tony Stark): Wealthy and charming billionaire Tony Stark creates a fearsome metal suit to counter crime. Head of his company, he has a romantic relationship with company executive Pepper Potts.
The Atom (Ray Palmer): Wealthy and charming billionaire Ray Palmer creates a fearsome metal suit to counter crime. Head of his company, he has a romantic relationship with company executive Felicity Smoak.
Differences: Admittedly, Tony displays much more arrogance than Ray, has a longer relationship with Pepper, and his suit cannot shrink like Ray's can. Also, The Atom actually debuted in comics from 1961 before Iron Man in 1963, so who really stole from whom?
How many of these characters were ripped and how much coincidence can be claimed? Though we may never know, most fans don't mind—as long as the production impresses, few care if it plundered a few elements. Lion King heavily took from Kimba the White Lion (not to mention Hamlet) and we still love it, and the same will hold true for Arrow, plagiarism or not. Besides, both Batman and Green Arrow stem from DC, meaning DC mostly misappropriated from itself.
As we eagerly await more adventures from Arrow's cast, vote for your favorite parallel, and here's hoping to more stellar DC Arrowverse adventures!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2017 Jeremy Gill
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on September 28, 2017:
Thank you for the kind words! As I watched the show, I was surprised by just how similar some characters were.
As an aside, I'm considering adding Thea Queen and Mary Jane, as both are supporters of their respective heroes and club owners (Mary Jane is seen doing this in the comics), but I'd need to think of more connections.
Chad Crouch from South Africa on September 28, 2017:
Well written article in fact excellent. Well researched as well. Good work! I am a comics/tv series fan as well and actually watched all these shows.
Mamerto Adan from Cabuyao on September 27, 2017:
Nice article! Frankly I'm a Batman fan and yes I could see some similarities with the Arrow series. And you're right, it's not a bad thing either.