Live-action television has presented two different versions of Green Arrow only two years apart. Smallville showed a version of the Emerald Archer played by Justin Hartley from 2006-2011. This version of Green Arrow was a major player in Clark Kent’s life and was the person who brought together the Justice League for the first time. Arrow showed a more grounded version of Green Arrow that has been played by Stephen Amell since 2012. This version started out as a grounded vigilante who eventually, through the efforts of friends and family, evolved into the hero Green Arrow who defends Star City.
Both Justin Hartley and Stephen Amell have a very vocal base of fans who are in love with their performance be it Hartley’s irresistible charisma and charm or Amell’s stoic nature and superhero physique. Due to their popularity, however, there’s always going to be a sect of fans that will wonder why this new show about Green Arrow didn’t star Justin Hartley even though it started very shortly after Smallville ended. Well let’s compare the two and see if we can find out. Here are 8 Ways Smallville’s Green Arrow is Better than the CW’s (And 7 Ways He’s Worse).
15 BETTER: ARCHERY
While Justin Hartley’s Green Arrow origin story might not be the most consistent, one thing that always remains is that he trained to become a truly incredible archer. Whether he was self-taught, trained by island natives, or mentored by a Celtic cult of archers, his archery skills are second to none...not even his counterpart on Arrow.
Stephen Amell’s Green Arrow has pulled off come incredible shots, but he hasn’t pulled off anything close to Hartley’s two greatest feats as Oliver Queen. In the season 6 episode “Sneeze”, Hartley’s Oliver is able to not only hit a globe on top of the Daily Planet from a mile away, but specify what country he wanted to hit on the globe. Hartley’s Green Arrow has shot bullets out of the air, shot an arrow through the tab of a soda can, and even shot speeding Kryptonians in battle.
14 WORSE: HAND-TO-HAND COMBAT
Hartley’s Green Arrow is made out to be an expert combatant, but there have been many times that he’s struggled to finish a fight without using his bow and arrow. In the Smallville episode “Siren”, Lex Luthor actually holds his own against Oliver in a fist fight. While Luthor was an expert in several martial arts due to many years of private lessons, he rarely uses these skills in battle and should easily be bested by an experienced vigilante.
Meanwhile, Amell’s Green Arrow is made out to be the world’s premiere martial artist. Not only has he trained under no less than five different masters, he defeated Ra’s al Ghul. Ra’s had centuries of combat knowledge and was the leader of the League of Assassins, a sect of expert assassins. He trains daily by fighting and killing several of these world class assassins at once with seemingly no effort.
13 BETTER: ABIDES BY HIS NO-KILL RULE
Both of the Green Arrows started out as vigilantes that were more than willing to kill when necessary and both of them eventually began a no-kill rule. However, only one has done a better job of sticking to it. Smallville’s Green Arrow has shown a reluctance to kill once Chloe helped him worked through his demons and become Green Arrow once again. He’s showed mercy to Vordigan and Zod after this transformation.
Arrow’s Green Arrow, made his no-kill rule at the beginning of season 2 in order to become more of a hero than a vigilante. He then immediately broke it in season 2 when he killed Count Vertigo and then again when he killed Ra’s al Ghul at the end of season 3 and Damien Dahrk at the end of season 4. And don’t forget about that random henchman he killed because he was frustrated in season 4.
12 WORSE: CONTROL OVER HIS EMOTIONS
Green Arrow from the comics was a hothead and Smallville’s Green Arrow was no better. There have been plenty of times where his anger has allowed him to be bested and his sadness has kept him from performing. While fighting his mentor in the episode “Disciple", Oliver’s anger allows his mentor to stab him through the hand and incapacitate him. He also became so upset by events in his life that he gave up being Green Arrow twice.
Arrow’s Oliver Queen could honestly stand to get more in touch with his emotions. He’s almost always calm and even when he isn’t, he doesn’t often let a heightened emotional state influence him in the field. The five years he spent around the world did a lot to strip him of his emotions, so it isn’t a big deal for him to put them aside while he’s out in the field.
11 BETTER: FOUGHT MORE POWERFUL ENEMIES
Arrow strove to be more a more grounded show than the recently departed Smallville. And it’s because of this that Oliver never really faces truly powerful enemies. His most powerful enemy was Damien Dahrk who possessed power, but not unbeatable, magic. Besides him, he’s fought Ra’s al Ghul, Malcolm Merlyn, Prometheus, and Deathstroke. They’re certainly a formidable rogue’s gallery, but they aren’t powerful enough to threaten worlds without help.
Hartley’s Green Arrow, on the other hand, has fought several Kryptonians, superpowered soldiers that gave Clark Kent a hard time, Doomsday, and even New Gods. He’s faced off against threats that even Clark had his hands full trying to deal with. The introduction of The Flash has expanded Arrow’s universe somewhat, allowing that version of Green Arrow to fight enemies such as the Reverse Flash and the Dominators. However, these still don’t compare to a Kryptonian invasion or Darkseid.
10 WORSE: KEEPING HIS SECRET IDENTITY
Arrow’s Green Arrow has gone to the ends of the earth and back to maintain his secret identity. He’s had others put on the uniform three times, lied to a polygraph machine, and straight up lied in front of the whole city in order protect his secret identity.
Smallville’s Oliver Queen decided to pull an Iron Man and announce to the media that he is the Green Arrow. His heart was in the right place; he wanted the world to trust costumed heroes more and hoped that revealing himself would help build trust. In addition, at the beginning of season 10, Oliver was being tortured by the Suicide Squad for information about himself and the Justice League’s secret identities. Chloe Sullivan gave herself up in exchange for Oliver, prompting a grief-stricken Oliver to reveal himself to the public in hopes that the Suicide Squad would then let her go.
9 BETTER: TEAM PLAYER
While the Arrow version of Green Arrow has had a team in recent years, that has not always been his first instinct. He only had a team in the first place because of circumstance and only reformed it because it was Laurel’s dying wish that he not do this alone. But he started his crusade alone and has always been content keeping it that way.
Smallville’s version of Oliver has no such problem. Not only did he willingly bring the Justice League together, he’s also a great leader for them. He commands their respect while trusting his team members far more than Arrow’s Oliver ever could or would. He was willing to split up the League into smaller teams to do missions across the globe. Apart from the League, he regularly works with Clark and Chloe and trusts both of them with his life.
8 WORSE: HIS SIDEKICKS
If you ask people to name their favorite characters from Arrow, chances are that Colton Haynes' Roy Harper will be in that list. With his hot headed, but caring personality and his penchant for unnecessary, yet flashy, flips, Roy became a fan favorite character the moment he premiered on the show. And once he became Arsenal, he was an integral part of Team Arrow and even helped shoulder a great load when Oliver went missing after his duel with Ra’s al Ghul.
Mia Dearden, on the other hand, was Smallville’s less successful attempt at introducing a sidekick character. Dearden was a prostitute/cage fighter who Oliver attempted to take in and train. However, that storyline never went any further than that. The show didn't delve into her comic book roots or really bring her up again at all. And that’s a shame because Dearden was played well by Elise Gatien.
7 BETTER: HIS GADGETS
Season 1 of Arrow featured virtually no gadgets besides the router arrow Oliver used to hack Adam Hunt and a flashbang arrow to stun Merlyn. Since then, the show has incorporated a few more trick arrows like the explosive arrow and magnet arrow but the first season set a tone that had to be followed, and that tone limited the amount of times that trick arrows could be used.
Meanwhile, on Smallville, the tone is far more fantastical and the world has seen some weirder things. This Oliver is more than happy to use a his mini crossbow, an EMP arrow, grappling hook arrow, electric arrow, mini arrow, knockout gas arrow, explosive arrow, Kryptonite arrow, and the classic boxing glove arrow. Think of Arrow as the “Longbow Hunters" version of Green Arrow while Smallville is more of the classic version.
6 WORSE: HIS VILLAINS
We don't even think we need to go into how incredible Oliver’s rogues gallery is… but we will. Damien Dahrk, if nothing else, was a very entertaining presence on the show. Malcolm Merlyn was equal parts menacing and over the top; he brought a bigger than life attitude and unshakable conviction. Ra’s so Ghul was a noble and unflappable villain who radiated a quiet power. Prometheus was simultaneously unhinged and genius, providing a villain who felt like he was always in control. And, of course, Deathstroke was an unstoppable force of nature; he was an overwhelmingly powerful villain with a deep personal vendetta against Oliver and truly felt undefeatable at times throughout the season.
Smallville’s Oliver may face greater threats, but they usually are actually Clark’s villains. This is another symptom of him being a character on another person's show. He had his mentor, Vordigan, and...that's actually about it.
5 BETTER: MORE COMIC ACCURATE
One complaint people may have about Oliver Queen in Arrow is that he’s basically Bruce Wayne. They’re both stoic billionaires who shut themselves off from the world and its pleasures in order to obsessively follow through with a mission brought on by the death of a parent(s). This does set up a solid character arc for Oliver and the show has largely been successful because of this mold, but the fact remains that Stephen Amell isn’t the Green Arrow that comic book fans know.
Justin Hartley’s Green Arrow may have been brought onto Smallville to take Batman’s role in Clark’s life, but he was still Oliver Queen. This Oliver embraces his emotions and connections with others while maintaining the right blend of lighthearted and edgy. From the emotional outbursts to the quips to the gadgety arrows, Justin Hartley’s Green Arrow is a much better representation of the source material.
4 WORSE: OVERSTAYED HIS WELCOME
Smallville is, ultimately, Clark Kent’s story. Green Arrow may have his fans, but the show was about the rise of Superman and Lex Luthor into the men everybody knows from the comic books. Therefore, the decision to promote Oliver Queen to a series regular by season 8 was a misguided one that split focus and, ultimately, ended up just padding on seasons.
This isn’t the case with his newer counterpart. Arrow is firmly Green Arrow’s show. It is about Oliver’s journey to better himself and his city while protecting those that he cares about; the other characters in the show are passengers in his story. Stephen Amell has plenty of fan support and, as the headliner of his own show, will never overstay his welcome.
3 BETTER: DOESN'T NEED TECH SUPPORT
Arrow’s Green Arrow may not be the best team player, but one thing he’s always relied on is tech support. When he brought Felicity Smoak, or Overwatch, onto the team, her knowledge of computers allowed her to gather information and hack into the municipal grids of the cities to actually change his environment to his benefit.
In Smallville, Oliver doesn’t need this kind of support, instead relying on his own vigilante skills to assess the situation and get himself out in one piece. He does have “eyes in the sky” provided by Jimmy Olsen and Chloe Sullivan when they took on the mantle of Watchtower. But Watchtower never provided the same amount of direct support that Felicity did. They usually located danger and called it out to Oliver and Clark instead of influencing the city like Felicity did.
2 WORSE: HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH BLACK CANARY
Black Canary has always played an integral role in the Green Arrow mythos. In the comics, she is easily the closest person to him whether she’s his lover, friend, or the person that “it’s complicated” with. However, in Smallville, she’s simply another suit that joins the Justice League. She’s talented for sure, but she possesses no real relationship with Oliver besides a purely professional one.
In Arrow, Dinah Laurel Lance is stuck firmly in the “it’s complicated” category when it comes to Oliver. They dated before the events of the show and it was her memory that motivated him to make it through his five years alone. Once he came back, they never officially got back together, but they remained extremely close to one another. Despite their relationship status, they loved each other deeply, with Laurel even admitting that she was still in love with him right before her death.
1 BETTER: HE SAVES THE WORLD, NOT JUST A CITY
Now don’t get us wrong, Arrow’s Oliver Queen has defended the world from invaders twice, averted worldwide disasters twice, and has helped save other cities and areas of the world. However, Oliver’s focus is squarely on saving Star City. He doesn’t venture out of it unless he’s asked to and, even then, he looks to return home as soon as possible to continue playing guardian angel for the city.
Smallville’s Oliver Queen, on the other hand, put together the Justice League with the intention of saving the entire world. He’s always doing missions throughout the entire world such as destroying Lex Luthor’s research labs, finding Clark when he went missing, and finding/battling Doomsday. Even when he was stationed in Metropolis in season 8, he ventured out more than once to save the world.