“Taken” was probably one of the more dreaded episodes of Arrow season 4, mainly because it dealt with everyone’s least favorite storyline, Oliver’s baby mama drama. William and Samantha are not popular characters on Arrow so an episode completely devoted to them, is not promising from the outset.
As a reaction, Arrow made the smart decision of interjecting a new-ish character to the proceedings. Vixen, first originated in the Arrow-verse in an animated online miniseries on the CW Seed made her live-action debut in “Taken”. The appearance was perfect. Live-action Vixen works and she needs to make as many appearances as possible on the three DCTV CW shows.
Vixen Is Unique
Vixen’s greatest asset is her powers. Currently there is no hero on Arrow, The Flash or Legends of Tomorrow that quite resembles her. Constantine is closely tied to magic but even that is a stretch to compare the two. Vixen is somehow both more powerful than hero we’ve yet seen on The CW’s DC Comics shows and more balanced. Mari McCabe’s ability to tap into the spirit and power of any animal gives her a lot of awesome powers like flight, strength, speed and hearing but it never feels overdone.
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As shown in “Taken” there are limits to what Mari can do and she’s not invincible. She more than struggled a bit, taking on Damien Darhk on Arrow. Vixen is not an all-powerful, in other words “boring,” superheroine who can take on any foe. Vixen is simply an all-around useful character that could fit into any situation and any show.
Oliver, Especially, Needs Female Friends
Vixen fit in perfectly with Team Arrow, so ideally that series would be home. However what can be said about Oliver here can also apply to Barry Allen. Team Arrow is filled mostly with female characters, which is awesome, but Oliver has very few platonic relationships on Arrow. There’s nothing romantic going on between Oliver and Laurel at the moment, but “Taken” was a very good reminder that there is a long romantic history between the two characters.
Mari and Oliver’s interactions within “Taken” were an excellent case in point how refreshing it can be for Oliver to talk to a member of the opposite sex without any underlying sexual tension. Vixen was respected and admired as an equal from the jump. This is something that Oliver (and to a lesser extent) Barry has always struggled with when meeting a new hero.
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Since actress Megalyn Echikunwoke had experience playing Mari on the animated miniseries, she came to Arrow fully formed. There was a sense of history to the character that wasn’t (too) distracting for those who had never seen the animated series. There were some obvious (and annoying) exposition moments in Vixen’s live-action debut but there were a necessary evil. Mari was introduced as hero with as much depth and backstory as Oliver Queen or Barry Allen.
Mari Opens Up a Whole New World
Similar to what I argued when Constantine was first introduced, Mari represents a whole other aspect of the Arrow-verse that needs exploring. Not only does she operate in another city that is not Central or Star but her power base isn’t familiar. Arrow has delved into magic in a big way in season 4 but that type of thing has been missing from the other two series. Legends of Tomorrow and The Flash are pretty science based. Most of the information might be fake and “made-up” science but to the characters of both series, the science is fact.
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Mari and her magical totem and animal spirt powers throw a huge wrench into all of that logical thinking. If you’re watching The Flash and you don’t want to see Cisco and/or Caitlin try to wrap their head around Mari’s powers, you’re lying to yourself. Vixen’s powers are great entry for magic on either of the science-based Arrow spin-offs. They are just weird enough to be something noticeably different but not so odd that it is going to turn fans off completely.
But what did you think of Vixen’s live-action debut? Are you hungry for more or are you just fine with her having her own animated mini-series?
Arrow season 4 airs Wednesdays at 8pm on The CW.
(Images courtesy of The CW)