Superheroes are all the rage these days and Arrow is arguably the show that started it all. Arrow premiered on CW in 2012 and since then, several other superhero shows have come to fruition, on a variety of different networks. Now, in 2017, it seems the CW is having the most success in the superhero realm, housing not only Arrow, but also The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl.
With Arrow’s season 5 coming to an end and Flash ending its season 3, it’s only natural to compare these two uber-popular and industry leading tv shows. So, who is the better hero? Is it the ever-brooding, arrow shooting, Oliver Queen? Or perhaps it’s the righteous speedster Barry Allen?
Let’s break it down and see who comes out on top.
What is a superhero without his powers? It’s difficult to be a crime-fighter without some sort of help, whatever the nature of said help may be.
Arrow: Oliver Queen starts off Arrow with power and money galore, despite being stuck on a desert island for years. These things are always helpful when it comes to being a superhero. More importantly, however, Oliver is an expert archer, fighter, and an overall butt-kicker. He doesn’t have “powers” as we typically think of them, but I still wouldn’t want to face him in a fight.
Flash: Before Barry got his speed, he was a genius forensic scientist. While his intelligence is helpful, Barry’s speed is essential to him being the Flash. Also, not only is he incredibly fast, but Barry has now learned to do incredible things with his powers. He can lightning punch, create wind tornadoes, and travel through time.
Winner: I’ve got to go Flash on this one. As awesome as Oliver is, without true superpowers, it’s Barry’s super-speed that brings him out on top. You can teach fighting skills, super-speed, you can’t teach…but it sure does come in handy.
It’s hard to be a lone hero these days. Every good hero has to have a team.
Arrow: While always resistant to having help, Oliver still seems to have some amazing people by his side. Team Arrow started small with Digg and Felicity but has grown incredibly. People have come and gone: Roy, Thea, Black Canary (RIP), Sara Lance, and yet, the team still remains strong. Now in season five, Oliver has recruited a new team (plus Felicity and Digg) and they’re as talented and diverse as ever.
Flash: Team Flash started off as an army of nerds. I say that in the most loving way possible, of course. Cisco, Caitlin, and Harrison Wells (from whichever Earth) have always been critical to Team Flash, and their brains help get Barry through the toughest foes. Since season one, Team Flash has grown to include Iris, Joe, Julian, and of course, Wally, who now also has super-speed. Team Flash keeps getting more and more stacked.
Winner: This round goes to Team Arrow. Considering all the rotations that go through this team, it never ceases to be incredible. Team Arrow has probably the most diverse team: from fighters to tech nerds, to super-powered individuals, they have it all. Team Flash is getting there, with the addition of Wally as Kid-Flash, but Team Arrow wins this one.
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You gotta have a good suit. When people are shooting at you, punching you, and usually trying to kill you, a good suit comes in handy.
Arrow: Oliver’s suit has changed over the years, but one thing has remained constant: the hood. Oliver now wears the hood, in addition to a mask and green leather suit, with a custom bow and arrows. Oliver’s suit has only gotten increasingly more effective and never ceases to make female fans (myself included) swoon.
Flash: Flash’s suit has remained generally the same through the three seasons. Created by Cisco, you know this suit is tech-filled and effective. The scarlet red is characteristic of the speedster and the Flash suit has gotten Barry through the toughest of times.
Winner: I’m going Arrow on this one. While I love the Flash and his lightning bolts, Oliver’s green leather suit is 10/10. Not only is his suit super attractive, it’s functional and perfect for this hero. Barry’s is a little too nerdy for me if I’m being honest.
You wouldn’t think personality is super important in hero work, but when you’re seeing terror day in and day out, you have to be cut out for it.
Arrow: As they say so often on the show, Oliver Queen does not play well with others. Oliver has a lot of trust issues, he’s generally an angsty person, and he does a lot of brooding. Those characteristics aside, Oliver has a heart of gold (whether he knows it or not), is always looking out for his team, and has come a long way from playboy frat-boy.
Flash: You have to love Barry Allen. Barry is as pure of heart as it gets. He always puts others first, he’s the most moral person in the superhero world and while he has his moments, he is usually coming from a place of emotion. Sometimes Barry gets too absorbed in his own world, but it’s generally because he’s looking out for his friends and family. He also has that super smart, science thing going on. Always helps.
Winner: In case you can’t already tell, I’m team Barry, here. As much as I’m a fan of Oliver Queen, watching him brood and talk about how he’s not a good person when everyone knows he is, gets kind of old. As righteous as Barry can be, I’ll take the positive spin over the negative any day.
Every good superhero has to have an intense backstory. You have to have a reason for doing what you’re doing.
Arrow: Oliver Queen started off as a rich, entitled, playboy. After seeing his dad shoot himself so he could survive and then going through tons of hell, he returned to Starling City to become the Green Arrow. As we’ve seen throughout five seasons, Oliver’s five years away were true hell. He suffered much more loss, tragedy, and difficult times than just losing his father…plus he gained some incredible skills. Makes sense that he would need to channel all of that into vigilante justice.
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Flash: Barry’s mother was murdered, practically before his eyes, and his father was imprisoned for her death. It doesn’t get any more tragic than that. Luckily, Barry was able to grow up in a stable and loving home with Joe and Iris, but his mom’s death and his dad’s wrongful conviction always ate away at him. And if that weren’t enough, throughout three seasons, Barry has seen his mother die multiple times and after freeing his dad has to watch as he is too, murdered. Barry’s got a rough life.
Winner: I’ve got to choose Barry here. Oliver had a pretty good life until the Gambit went down. And while things have been tough since then, I think Barry has it rougher. Not only did Barry have his mom murdered, dad imprisoned, but he has to suffer these tragedies over and over again in adulthood. I think Barry has a better case for tragic superhero backstory.
So, who came out on top?
Overall winner: Flash.
Flash, 3. Arrow, 2. Don’t get me wrong, I love both of these heroes and both of these TV shows, but it’s Flash that I believe is the better hero. When it comes down to it, Barry and Oliver are comparable on most fronts. What gets me, is Oliver’s attitude. Oliver is constantly questioning his morality and heart, which I understand, but to be frank, it gets kind of old. Barry has his struggles too, but I enjoy watching a more positive hero than a debbie-downer one. This evaluation, of course, won’t stop me from watching both shows, but I feel much more fulfilled after watching The Flash, than I do, Arrow.
Arrow season 5 airs Wednesday nights at 8pm and The Flash season 3 airs Tuesday nights at 8pm, both on the CW.
(Images courtesy of CW)