What the cast of Arrow should really look like

The CW's Arrow single-handedly launched an entire televised DC comics universe, spawning The Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow. A comic book show that grounds itself in a somewhat recognizable version of our reality, Arrow takes the Christopher Nolan route with costume design—not too comic booky, but it occasionally goes nuts and has fun with it. How drastic were the changes when a member of the Justice League was given his own TV show? Let's find out…

Oliver Queen / Green Arrow

Robin Hood. That's all it has to be said of a comic book Green Arrow. Oliver Queen could wear all the hoodies and masks he wants, but that facial hair is about three centuries too late. Thankfully the minds behind Arrow decided to just give Oliver permanent blonde scruff. Besides, how weird would it be if a modern-day billionaire in his late 20s or early 30s walked around looking like a guy who sells handcrafted flutes at the Renaissance fair?

Thea Queen / Speedy

Thea doesn't exist in the comics, but Speedy does—and she's a different character whose real name is Mia Dearden. Thea's full name is Thia Dearden Queen. In the comic she isn't Oliver's sister, her costume is accented with yellow, and its primary color is either red or black. Even more confusing: Roy Harper originally went by the name Speedy in the comics. Mia took up the mantle after Roy changed his codename to Arsenal. Who was Roy Harper? Well…

Roy Harper / Arsenal

Roy Harper used to be called Speedy, then later changed his name to Arsenal, and then at some point went by the name Red Arrow, all the while looking pretty much the same. He doesn't usually wear a red hood like he does on TV, and in the early days of his comic book existence he had some yellow incorporated into his color scheme. And why not wear yellow when you're prancing around on rooftops in the dead of night? When you're trying to hide in the shadows to get the jump on your enemies it's always good to wear the color most closely associated with the sun.

John Diggle

Diggle is an example of the tail wagging the dog. He follows in the footsteps of Harley Quinn as a DC character created exclusively for television who has made his way into the comic book universe. It's not surprising that he looks pretty much the same on TV—like a generic Jack Bauer ally who gets killed halfway through a season of 24.

Felicity Smoak

Felicity has shown up in a couple forms throughout DC history, making their first comic book appearance in 1984 as the stepmother to the superhero Firestorm who works as the manager of a computer company in New York. She was later reintroduced into DC comics continuity as the Felicity Smoak fans know and love only after the character became a fan favorite as a part of the main cast of Arrow. Felicity's comic book look was based off of actress Emily Bett Rickards, which is why she's retained her signature blonde hair and thickly framed glasses.

Malcolm Merlyn

The similarities between comic book Merlyn and TV Merlyn begin at the feet and end at the neck. John Barrowman plays Merlin on Arrow, which is already a departure: Barrowman has the head and looks of a handsome cinderblock. Merlyn in the comics, while occasionally drawn as handsome, tends to have a more sniveling look of menace. He looks kind of like Sinestro, or even Alfred, Bruce Wayne's butler. No matter the interpretation, he's usually thin and sports a Wolverine-style hairdo that makes him look a little bit like a magical elf (that could kill you with an arrow from a mile away).

Quentin Lance

The creators of Arrow fudged with a lot of the characters' histories before bringing them to the screen, and Quentin Lance is a pretty good example. Originally, Quentin's name was Larry. He's been a policeman and a private detective in different iterations of the DC universe, but either way, he's Black Canary's father. Visually, he's portrayed as a slightly disheveled police detective on Arrow. But in the comics, Quentin, um, Larry, is dashing and suave, the spitting image of James Bond—hair slicked back and jet black, suits gorgeous, and a cigarette always in hand.

Slade Wilson / Deathstroke

Comics fans would've rioted if Arrow's version of Deathstroke had deviated too far from the look they love. Just give him a half-orange half-black mask, a suit of tactical armor, load them up with weapons and knives and grenades of all kinds, and have him stand around looking like he's about to kill everyone in sight, no matter how powerful they are. It would've required effort to mess him up. Fortunately, Arrow nailed it.

Damien Darhk

Darhk's TV and comic book versions share a name… and that's pretty much it, which you can tell by looking at the image above. On the left is a menacing middle-aged man who radiates power. Darhk in the comics, on the other hand, looks like Tintin. The comics version's light blue trenchcoat and pants contrasting with a bright yellow sweater weren't really befitting of the character. Why do comic book artists insist on borrowing their color schemes from Dick Tracy characters?

Ra's al Ghul

If we've learned anything from Christopher Nolan's Batman films, or from any animated incarnation of Ra's al Ghul, or comic book version of the character, it's that he needs only two things to let audiences know who he is: one, a goatee and two, an elaborate cape. Ra's on Arrow never wore a massive collar, and his cape was never a cartoonishly bright green. But all the elements were there, if not as pronounced as we're used to seeing them. If only he had that crazy Wolverine hair.

Count Vertigo

Count Vertigo has undergone a lot of costume changes. When he first appeared, he looked like he shopped at the same store as Doctor Strange and Ra's al Ghul: a big flowing cape with a massive sinister collar and a logo on his chest that made him look like he was wearing a green version of Captain America's shield. Occasionally he wore one of those masks that covered his face but exposed his mouth, eyes, and hair, because his hair was too flowing and beautiful to keep under wraps. Contrast this with Arrow's version of the character, who is just a dude with wild blond hair and occasionally a not-terribly-menacing coat.

Amanda Waller

Traditionally Amanda Waller, the head of Task Force X, a.k.a. the Suicide Squad, is depicted in comics as being rather round. The Arrowverse version of one of the most feared and respected characters in the DC canon has slimmed the character down considerably, but that's really the only significant difference. She's still sporting expensive power suits, she's still mean as hell, and she's still morally bankrupt. Same Amanda, different pant size.

Sebastian Blood / Brother Blood

Brother Blood isn't so much a name as it is a title. Eight different people have carried the Brother Blood mantle throughout DC history, and each one killed their predecessor. Each has a slightly different take on their style. The one we see on Arrow, who went by the name Sebastian Blood, opted to go with a leathery, more subdued interpretation of the classic Brother Blood serpent face mask. Other versions, like the one above, offer crazier twists on his look. But whichever direction the he's taken, and no matter the era drawn, he's always way over the top and would never be mistaken for anything other than a villain.

Laurel Lance / Black Canary

At first glance, it might seem like the Arrow version of Black Canary has a lot in common with her comics counterpart, but look closer. You'll notice one looks like she's wearing a tactical suit befitting a crime fighter, while the other looks like a stripper whose boyfriend is in a motorcycle gang. A leather one-piece bathing suit with a tiny leather jacket and fishnets isn't really a great crimefighting gear. TV Black Canary's costume is an improvement in every way…with the exception of the hair. Sorry, Laurel, but that wig is atrocious; you're better off wrapping the fishnets around your head like a lunch lady.


Deadshot is a tricky guy to get on screen. All this additional gear—his mask, his wrist-mounted guns, the targeting computer over his eye—can come off as corny if it isn't executed properly. Thankfully his look was nailed on Arrow. Granted, the budgetary shortcomings of TV are apparent. The prop budget didn't allow for the highest quality. The targeting computer and wrist mounted gun don't really have the weight they should, and don't quite manage to not look like toys. But the effect is convincing enough and blends in with the rest of the world's tech.

Carrie Cutter / Cupid

Cupid is one of the more radical departures from comic to screen. On the page she looks like Poison Ivy. Green leggings, a green sports bra-like contraption, green gloves, green veil, and fiery red hair. On Arrow, the green is still there in the form of a low-cut shirt, but it's hidden beneath the Arrowverse's prerequisite cool-looking leather jacket. As we learned from Bryan Singer's X-Men movies, if there's any article of clothing that can act as a stand-in for the cheesiness of the comic book outfit it's a leather jacket, preferably black. Superheroes are always cold.


The traditional black-and-purple color scheme of the Huntress is apparent in her onscreen counterpart, though it isn't as emphasized. The trim of her leather jacket is edged with purple, as is the underside of her eye mask. Her costume is also shifted from highly sexualized to practical, which is a definite improvement the creators of Arrow appeared to have set out to instill in all of their adaptations of their female characters. These women don't care about looking hot when they wage their war against crime.

Captain Boomerang

You saw Captain Boomerang in Suicide Squad and you may have noticed him on Arrow. If both versions look similar to you, it's because they were fairly accurate adaptations one of DC's goofier villains. Only three elements are required to successfully pull off the character: one, a long dark trench coat; two, some kind of bandolier that holds all of his boomerangs, which kind of implies that he's not that great of a boomerang thrower; and three, what looks to be an athletic zip-up jacket, because throwing boomerangs worked up a sweat, and when you're sweating you want a jacket with moisture-wicking technology.

John Constantine

John Constantine is a beloved DC character who, visually at least, had been messed up onscreen once before in the Keanu Reeves-led movie adaptation simply titled Constantine. John is traditionally a wiry Englishman with a mess of blond hair and is always sporting his signature noir detective khaki trenchcoat. Arrow's version of the character, who briefly had his own show on NBC before it was canceled, nails his look right down to the lazily loosened maroon tie and, of course, his cigarettes. If you've read Hellblazer, the series that made John Constantine an anti-hero star among comic book fans, you know his smoking is an important key to understanding the character.

Royal Flush Gang

The original design for the Royal Flush Gang could not have been more absurd: a team of thieves who codenamed themselves after playing cards and physically look like the cards they're named after. This silly interpretation of the characters didn't make it onto the screen when they made an appearance in the first season of Arrow; instead, they were just people who had old-school Jason Voorhees-style hockey masks signifying their card. Not particularly creative, but a vast improvement over guys who look like they got into a fight with Batman at a factory and fell into a vat of boiling playing card juice.