The Arrow half of this year’s crossover bonanza shifts from where The Flash portion of the two-parter, “Legends of Today” left off, leaving Green Arrow and newcomer Hawkgirl to struggle with inner conflict. While Kendra had to cope with her destiny as a reincarnated Egyptian priestess forced to leave her old life (and Cisco), Oliver was shocked into reframing what he’s fighting for when he realizes that among the lives he saves is his own son.
A loose thread from several years ago returns when Oliver encounters a woman he impregnated in his reckless youth long before his transformation in northern China. Realizing he has a son puts him at odds with Felicity, which ruins his A-game as the Green Arrow when the team encounters Vandal Savage in the first round of the hour.
Self-doubt is a popular arc used across all of fiction, but for superheroes there’s an extra layer of depth due to their inherent responsibility of civil defenders and protectors. It was an arc recently overcome by Supergirl, who went through the first few episodes wondering if she could ever live up to the legacy of her more famous cousin. In Spider-Man 2, arguably one of the best superhero movies of all time, Peter Parker’s anxiety mentally shocks his body into losing his spider abilities. Resorting to a normal life does wonders for Peter’s soul and sleep pattern, but it later haunts his conscience.
But Arrow takes the narrative in a different direction. Instead of relinquishing responsibility or wondering if he’s good enough, Oliver shoulders almost all of the burden. Like an overprotective parent, he forces Team Arrow (Diggle, Laurel, his sister Thea) from joining the fight. Keeping loved ones at bay ironically proves fatal when the plans go haywire and all of Central City — including Team Arrow — are killed by Vandal Savage’s destruction.
Would Oliver be a good parent, or a shitty one? I do not have such responsibilities to reference personally, but Oliver’s irrational, fever-of-the-moment decisions he thought were smart precautions wound up fatal for the people he tried to protect. In the end, Oliver had to trust his allies to handle themselves. But will he make that same decision when his nine-year-old wants to go dirt biking? Or what if he comes of age and finds himself to be a superhero like dear old daddy? Because, as the mother of his child told him, anyone who orbits Oliver lives in a dangerous world.
It’s unlikely we’ll ever see that far into Oliver’s life even if Arrow goes ten seasons, but if the Green Arrow is destined to become a legend of tomorrow then what kind of shadow will his son live in? And what kind of actions would he take to get out?