"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Comic Books, Film
What’s the worst part about being shipwrecked on a remote island for five years? Aside from coming back and having to fight criminals, there’s all that paperwork.
OK, maybe that’s not the worst part of the “five years in hell” billionaire playboy Oliver Queen spent receiving some mysterious training in the art of superheroics, but the whole presumed-dead thing still carries a certain amount of bureaucratic nonsense with it. Namely, that pesky death certificate somebody filed.
Going to court is bad enough. Having to fight China White? That’s just not cool.
“Honor Thy Father,” the second episode of Arrow, opens with the television incarnation of DC’s Green Arrow kicking some bad-guy butt on the rooftops of Starling City, presumably still making his way down the list of high-society evildoers provided to him by his dying father. Holding a businessman’s head next to a giant fan, our Robin Hood-esque hero demands the villain get on the phone and return all of the money bilked from innocent people.
Cut to Oliver back at the Queen family mansion watching a news report with his mother and sister about “the vigilante.” “This guy gets more airtime than the Kardashians, right?” he cracks, to which his sister replies, “Five years on an island yet you still know who they are.” He’s been catching up on pop culture, it seems.
Oliver’s stepfather Walter explains that the day’s “proof-of-life statement” in front of a judge should be a fairly simple procedure. Enter best pal Tommy Merlyn, who rattles off a list of every other time Oliver has been in front of a judge during his time as a reckless tabloid socialite.
After some emotional testimony downtown, Oliver runs into Dinah “Laurel” Lance, the lawyer and childhood sweetheart he was cheating on when the yacht went down (and who we learned at the end of last week’s episode has been hooking up with Tommy). She’s there with her hot lawyer friend working on a legal case – namely, the prosecution of another Starling City “businessman” involved in crime.
Martin Somers is tied up with the Chinese Triad, murder and bribery. His name is in Papa Queen’s little brown book, too. Oliver ditches Tommy and his driver at the courthouse and takes the Rolls over to his secret warehouse lair, which is stocked with arrow tips and enough workout gear for cross-fit franchise. Inexplicably shirtless, Queen works out on a rope and with lead pipes while steaming with rage.
In costume as the Arrow, he kidnaps Somers, hangs him upside down and shoots arrows at him, demanding he confess to murder at his ongoing trial. “There won’t be a second warning,” he barks, just as the show’s opening titles arrive.
Momma Queen is none too pleased with the way her son keeps giving his bodyguard the slip. Oliver walks in as she’s scolding him about it. “I’ve been alone for five years,” he says, explaining he’s been sneaking off to hook up with women. His mother isn’t buying it, though; she’s suspicious. And as we learned in last week’s episode, he should be suspicious of her, too.
Laurel’s father the police detective pays a visit to Somers, who denies having seen Arrow (despite the telltale arrows at his docks) before issuing some vague threats. Later, Detective Lance wisely places police protection on his daughter’s legal-aid office.
Oliver, his mom and Walter pay a visit to the family business – the Wayne Enterprises of Starling City, if you will, complete with an “applied sciences division.” They want him to take a leadership role, but Oliver wants no part of it. After a little bit of bonding between Oliver and his bodyguard, we’re treated to an island flashback. Well maybe “treated” isn’t the right word, as it’s a grisly moment in which the body of Oliver’s father washes up onshore.
Back in the present: Enter China White. Kelly Hu is no stranger to comic-book adaptations, having played Lady Deathstrike in X2: X-Men United nearly a decade ago. She’s also a familiar face to viewers of The CW in her role as vampire baddie Pearl on The Vampire Diaries. Now she’s the next big entry to Arrow from the DC Universe, and she looks pretty great in the role.
Somers calls a meeting with the femme-fatale drug smuggler, who hatches a plan to knock off the possible-future Black Canary, just in time for a commercial break.
Back at the mansion, Oliver’s sister discovers how many scars her brother has all over his torso. “What happened to you out there?” she asks. He won’t tell her, saying, “I need to get better about talking about what happened to me there, but I’m not ready yet, OK?” She takes him outside and shows him the headstones in the backyard the family erected for Oliver and his father. “The truth is, I felt closer to you when you were dead,” she tells him. Ouch. “You gotta let me in, Ollie.”
Or at least he’s gotta let somebody in, right? Ollie drops by Laurel’s place. “How am I supposed to stay away from you if you won’t stay away from me?” she snarls. He explains the pushed her away to protect her, but he’s sorry for hurting her. Over scoops of ice cream, Oliver tells Laurel he has “plans” after his five years away. Just as they’re sharing a tender moment, armed thugs break in.
Shooting ensues. Driver John Diggle comes to their rescue, then tussles with a leather-clad China White. He’s got fighting skills, but she overpowers him. Then it’s time for Oliver to rescue John with the aid of an expertly thrown butter knife. Detective Lance blames Oliver for the violence and orders him to stay away from his daughter.
Speaking of John, he’s a sharp one. He wants to know how Oliver managed to throw that kitchen knife with such expert precision. Ollie insists he got lucky.
Thanks to the attack, the Arrow decides the courts are too slow, and heads after Somers, who’s already on the run from the Triad, figuring they’ll want to erase all traces of the smuggling ring following the failed hit on Laurel. Oliver dispenses with Somers’ thugs, but just as he has the bad guy cornered, China White shows up. She speaks to Oliver in her native tongue, and guess what? He answers back! Dude, what did he do on that island?
It’s knife against bow (and black leather against green) as the pair battles it out with feet, fists and weapons in a scene sure to make Green Arrow: Year One fans ecstatic. Detective Lance corners Arrow, but he escapes, leaving behind a recorded confession from Somers (admissibility be damned).
Much like the Bruce Wayne of the Nolan films, Oliver eventually decides to assume the role of the playboy in public, turning up at a big company event to make a fool of himself in front of the cameras. “I’m supposed to take my rightful place at the company,” he slurs. “But I’m not my father. I’m not half the man he was. I never will be. So, please, stop asking me to be.”
The Lances have a family chat about Arrow, with Laurel thinking he’s trying to help and her father insisting the vigilante is, among other things, an “anarchist” (punk rock!). As the episode draws to a close, we see Oliver crossing “Martin Somers” off his list of names.
Cut to another flashback as Oliver carries his father’s body across the island. He discovers in his father’s pocket a book with nothing but a strange symbol. Meanwhile, in the present, Oliver’s mom is in a car with a mysterious stranger who’s holding something bearing the same symbol. “My son knows nothing,” she tells the hidden figure. “He doesn’t know that the yacht was sabotaged.”
John seems to have an idea about what Oliver is getting up to in the evenings. “Will we be going out tonight?” he asks. “Definitely,” Oliver replies.
In the episode’s final flashback, as Oliver is burying his father on the island, he’s suddenly shot with an arrow. In the distance, we see a hooded figure costumed virtually identical to the way Oliver will dress five years later as Arrow.