Arrow season 6: How Felicity Smoak helped re-shape comic-book TV

Emily Bett RickardsIn today’s edition of our Unsung Heroes article series, we’re taking somewhat of a different approach when it comes to discussing Arrow and the character of Felicity Smoak.

After all, those of you who watch the series are probably more than familiar with the idea of Felicity as a hero. She routinely helps to save the day with the help of Oliver and Diggle — of course, when they’re working together as opposed to the present messed-up situation that some of these characters are in. She also clearly does that in a different way, working behind the scenes and providing information that the two characters would not be able to have on their own.

Does she make mistakes? Absolutely, and she’s also been faced with pretty possible decisions (see Havenrock as an example). The important thing with Arrow is that it’s never worked overtime trying to figure out a way to draw perfect portraits of any of its characters. Instead, the onus has always been instead on reminders that these peope are human. They screw up in the field and they give into insecurity — that’s totally okay. What matters most is that when the chips are down, they rise above. Felicity’s done that and she is valued on the team for that reason and many more. She’s passionate, brilliant, and extremely loyal to those who value her.

There are numerous reasons why she has such an enormous fanbase — she represents so many of us who want to be heroes without having to run out on the street in a costume. She relies on her intellect and determination in order to carry the day.

Felicity’s impact goes beyond just that, though, as we would say that her character represented in some ways a sea change of thinking in terms of separating the Arrowverse from some of its comic-book origins. In the comics, Felicity and Oliver aren’t what they are on the show and that’s totally okay. These are separate entities and the show often works to still capture some of the spirit of the source material. Thanks to Felicity and her popularity, we feel like the writers have understood that sometimes, it’s okay to drift things away from the comic-book origins and go with what fans are connecting with in the moment. Some of the scenes with Oliver and Felicity, especially in the early two seasons, were transformative in terms of shifting the narrative.

What the Arrowverse learned through her was that having heroes behind the scenes is just as important as having heroes out on the front lines. The work here may have carried over to the work that the writers did on some other characters including Cisco Ramon on The Flash or Winn Schott on Supergirl. Meanwhile, it may have also encouraged them more to bring in lesser-known characters from the comics and give them more depth and opportunities to shine. Look at some of the people on Legends of Tomorrow, who are now incredibly beloved despite not having all that much of a presence in the pages.

Felicity as a character is certainly an inspiration for many people; beyond just that, the success of the role seems to have been influential in many other decisions made elsewhere. She’s an Unsung Hero for her fans, but beyond that also one for atypical characters on comic-book shows in general.

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