For five seasons, Oliver Queen has led two lives, his public one as the heir to the Queen legacy and his private one as the Green Arrow. While his identity as Star City's foremost masked vigilante has been almost uncovered numerous times, he has always narrowly avoided discovery.
When "Arrow" returns Wednesday to continue its fifth season, Oliver will face the new challenge as someone investigates his time spent on the island. His girlfriend, reporter Susan Williams, has begun to make connections to his time off the island, when he was in Russia -- and if she pieces together that he's a member of the Bratva, the Russian mafia organization, it could sink Oliver's political career.
With the threat of his past looming, should Oliver get ahead of the bad press by unmasking himself as Green Arrow? It would certainly make for an interesting political career and signficantly shift the dynamics of the newly announced sixth season. Such a revelation could provide the Arrowverse with its own "Iron Man" moment. Would the DCTV universe benefit from a public hero? Would it be a wise decision for Oliver to make? Let's take a look.
Controlling the Narrative
As mayor of Star City, Oliver is the most recognizable public figure in the Arrowverse. This season he's been able to juggle his double life as both politician and vigilante. While he may have been late to a few meetings, his masked activities have rarely bled into his duties at city hall. That is, until Susan discovered the five-year-old photo of Oliver in Russia and became the first person to question the truth behind his time on the island.
If Susan uncovers that Oliver was working for the Bratva, his political career will be over. If she digs even further and discovers his time in Hong Kong, he could be taken into federal custody. One way for Oliver to avoid both of these consequences is to construct a story about being undercover -- but undercover for whom, and to what purpose?
If Oliver's private life were dragged into the spotlight, he would have the unique opportunity to get ahead of the problem and control the narrative. He could say he was working for A.R.G.U.S. all those years. Amanda Waller could verify that lie, but as she's dead, Lyla could confirm Oliver's statements. He could also take the riskier play and reveal himself to be Green Arrow, a disclosure that would completely eclipse anything Susan might report about him. Star City's mayor turning out to be a masked vigilante would probably be the story of the century.
Getting His "Iron Man" Moment
When Tony Stark revealed himself to be Iron Man at the end of 2008's "Iron Man," it set precedent in what's now known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was a clear sign that Marvel wasn't going to focus on secret identities in its films. That trend continued with Steve Rogers' public appearances as Captain America, Natasha Romanoff's release of the S.H.I.E.L.D. files, and the introduction of the Sokovia Accords.
That type of public revelation hasn't yet happened within The CW's Arrowverse, which encompasses "Arrow," "The Flash," "Supergirl" and "DC's Legends of Tomrrow." Kara Danvers' identity as Supergirl remains a mystery, Barry Allen has never been publicly identified as The Flash, and the Legends aren't known by their superhero monikers, except maybe Leonard Snart and Mick Rory from their previous lives as criminals. So far the only publicly known hero is Laurel Lance as Black Canary, but considering that announcement came after her death, it never affected her everyday life.
If Oliver took this opportunity to reveal himself, he could be the public face of DCTV's Justice League/Super Friends. He was already a billionaire, philanthropist and playboy; why not add superhero to the list?
Shift for Season Six
The renewal of "Arrow" last week came as quite a surprise, not because it had seen a slip in ratings, but because it was originally designed to be a five-season show. The flashbacks, Oliver's time on the island, everything was written to fit a five-season arc. Now that the series will be moving into a sixth season, it has the opportunity to do something totally fresh -- an unmasked Green Arrow could be just what the drama needs.
With Oliver's superhero identity known, he would be faced with a lot of new challenges. There could be a series of episodes with Oliver on trial for the murders he committed as The Hood. Roy Harper could return from exile, bringing back fan-favorite Colton Haynes. An initiative like Marvel's Sokovia Accords could be put into play, with DCTV's world governments calling attention to the need for superhero registration. Has a superhero ever been mayor before, or would the development end Oliver's career and free him to run his superhero squad?
Whatever Susan Williams plans on doing with Oliver's secrets, he gets to decide how he wants to deal with it. And informing the public of his true identity could be the one thing that saves him.
Returning Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW, "Arrow" stars Stephen Amell, Emily Bett Rickards, David Ramsey, Willa Holland, Paul Blackthorne and Echo Callum.