It’s been said that a hero can be defined by a villain, and that seems to be the case with Arrow and it’s portrayal of the Big Bads that Team Arrow has faced over the course of the show. While seasons 1-2 were compelling with Malcolm Merlyn and Deathstroke, both of them having been antagonists of Green Arrow in comics, and portrayed as such to great effect on the show, with buildup, character development, and backstories that make them not just compelling villains, but characters as well. The Big Bads in seasons 3-4 were really a mixed bag. Ra’s al Ghul, while built up in previous seasons and Matt Nable played him excellently, should NEVER have been the main villain of season 3, partly because he was primarily a Batman villain and his appearances gave the impression that the show was ripping off Batman more than ever, and it felt out of place and kinda forced. He should’ve instead been an overseer, someone being manipulated by another behind-the-scenes, which could’ve led to a more concrete foundation for Damien Darhk, who has been one of the “saving graces” of season 4, despite the show continuing some of season 3’s problems, especially considering Darhk and HIVE were adversaries of the Titans in comics, but in context of the show itself, they do make a nice fit, though also a bit out of place.
However, since Arrow has started its fifth season, I think it’s safe to say the show can return to its more darker and grittier roots, and what better way to do that than have Green Arrow face off against the criminal underworld of Star City? Past seasons have shown him and Team Arrow do it before, but only in sorta standalone moments, and probably the biggest showcase of this being when Brick attempted to take over the city and the team united themselves and everyone against him, with Ollie showing up later after his duel with Ra’s al Ghul. It’s great that with the additions of The Flash and LOT helping make up the Arrowverse, Arrow itself has gotten to be more embracing of its superhero elements. However, I think it’s what’s also led to some really nonsensical stuff that have plagued seasons 3-4 lately, some of which have really persisted and just won’t die for some reason (*cough* Olicity). With that said, a trip to the criminal underworld and whether it’s Oliver by himself, with his team, without his team, or with a new team entirely from what I’ve heard, going up against someone who wishes to control it and eventually the city, could allow for some better direction and a tighter focus, possibly reminiscent of season 2, as well as harkening back to what made Arrow great in the first place and even bring some things that harken back to the beginning of the show and how far Oliver has come in his journey as Green Arrow.
While Green Arrow himself doesn’t have the most expansive of rogues galleries, exactly, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have one to begin with, and it helps provide a better selection, unlike with some superhero adaptations of popular characters of which there are SO MANY villains to choose from. Like I said, Merlyn and Deathstroke were GA villains in comics too, and while others have been portrayed on Arrow, as well as wider DC villains that also help make up the Arrowverse as a whole, they haven’t exactly been given the Big Bad treatment like those 2 have. I also like how the show has created an original character for this as well through Tobias Church, who’s portrayed with fierce intimidation by Chad Coleman, but I don’t think he’s gonna end up being the main focus, exactly, maybe more or less something that builds up to or is a smokescreen for the real enemy. Here are 5 villains from GA’s rogues gallery, villains that have been depicted on the show, and even those that haven’t appeared yet, that would be a perfect fit for the main antagonist of season 5, not to mention perfect for a criminal underworld storyline of some sort, as well as some honorable mentions.
1. Count Vertigo
There have already been two versions of Count Vertigo on Arrow, both of whom I thought were good to various extents. While it is a bit off-putting that neither of these characters exactly adapt the concept of him being a disgraced former ruler from his home country of Vlatava (though I think the second one kinda hinted at it), they do embrace him being a character who makes others go through some pretty weird mindfucks and is someone who crosses paths with Green Arrow either because he’s fighting Black Canary, he’s a part of a villain group that’s fighting the Justice League and GA is with them, or he’s operating on GA’s home turf. Basically he’s like the show’s version of Scarecrow, which kinda makes sense. It’s partly because of this that he has attempted to become Star City’s biggest crime lord, having control over others in more ways than one, not just through intimidation and committing crimes in general, but also mind control and putting the city through a drug epidemic, which has been explored before on the show. The first Count Vertigo (who I guess is based on the original pre-New 52 version since while he has no “real name” exactly, he does go by “Count Vertigo” at times) has been dead since season 2 so there’s no chance of him coming back if at all, which leaves the second Count Vertigo (Werner Zytle, based on The New 52 version). He’s already been defeated by Team Arrow several times, not just in the show but also comic tie-ins, and he could break out of jail and “reclaim what’s his”, but only time will tell…
Ever since the show started, the creators and fans wanted to see Onomatopeia appear. However, Kevin Smith said this was unlikely, due to the character’s nature and modus operandi, which I can understand. Onomatopeia is a serial killer who utilizes various weaponry and whose defining character trait is that when sounds are made around him, he imitates them. In comics, this can be something unique and can create tension when done right, and from what I’ve seen of the character so far, it works for him especially given his skillset, and makes him a force to be reckoned with not just for Green Arrow, whose comics in which this character originated, but even Batman (btw is there ever gonna be a continuation of The Widening Gyre? Say what you will about that comic but I thought it was okay and it ended on a cliffhanger, and I fucking hate cliffhangers). Smith himself said that because of his gimmick of imitating sounds, it wouldn’t work in live-action and it’d make him look ridiculous, and again I can understand this because unless it was done right, then yeah it’d look pretty silly. So the creators had to settle for the time being and create a fill-in character through Mister Blank (played by J. August Richards). From what I heard though, based on how great Smith’s experiences have been with getting involved with the Arrowverse, directing a season 2 episode of The Flash and an upcoming season 3 episode, which have been successful, he is open to bringing the character to the fold in some way. He’d be portrayed just like he is in the comics, usually silent and having his abilities, only instead of making sounds, he gives his victims a card that have the sound written on them. Like a card that has the word BLAM written on it and he’d shoot someone with a gun or the word SLIT and he’d slit someone’s throat with a knife. Then after killing his victims he’d turn his head in a creepy way like slasher villains do such as Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers. Having him in the show would bring different kinds of stakes for it and add more tension. Though given how this character operates, it’s probably best that he’s just portrayed as he is in the comics and not do more than that, maybe have him as a secondary antagonist of sorts, because having him be portrayed even a little different from that can be a bit off-putting, just look at the show’s version of Anarky (though I give that one more credit than the Beware the Batman depiction but not as much as the one in Arkham Origins).
Okay I’ll admit I know that making this list was almost pointless since it was kinda revealed that Prometheus was gonna be the Big Bad of season 5. That doesn’t mean I can’t see how it would work. In comics, there are several characters who have this identity, such as the first one whose real name was Curt Calhoun, but the one that fans would be more familiar with is the Prometheus whose secret identity remains unknown, who’s like a reverse-Batman, where his parents were criminals that were killed by cops and this caused him to become a supervillain, having fought the JLA on several occasions, including the controversial Cry for Justice miniseries (part of which had him ravage Star City with an earthquake machine, killing Roy Harper’s daughter Lian, much to A LOT of fans’ chagrin, and in which Green Arrow killed him in revenge, claiming it to be “justice”). An imposter version of this character whose real name was Chad Graham had fought Green Arrow at one point and later killed by the real Prometheus. In context of the show, this could work as well, because from what I’ve heard, he’d be portrayed as someone who was affected by Oliver’s early days as The Arrow and he has spent the past few years preparing to get revenge on him and becoming a dark analogue to Green Arrow. It’s something that’s reminiscent of how Deathstroke was used, but kinda different since he’d be from Oliver’s time since coming back to Star City and not before. I don’t know if this means the flashbacks could be utilized for him too, but given how they are for each respective season, I’m guessing it’d be more of how it was done in season 1, more of a thematic connection than a narrative one. And seeing as how The List is being featured again, he could be someone from it as well in some way. Again, only time will tell…
4. Ricardo Diaz Jr.
The only thing I didn’t like about this guy is how he was seemingly portrayed as The New 52 version of Richard Dragon and that the old version never existed, until it was revealed that he actually killed the REAL Richard Dragon and took his name, which only just made me hate how DC killed off Richard Dragon in general. Still, this character is a force to be reckoned with. His father was a crime lord who fought Green Arrow and John Diggle in their early days (as depicted in The New 52), eventually killed by Diggle and his organization was destroyed. His son, however, decides to get revenge and learn the skills necessary to defeat his enemies, while also somehow killing off one of the greatest martial arts masters in the DCU, the guy who trained Barbara Gordon, Huntress, The Question, and even friggin Batman. Yeah I’m getting on a tangent with this but really? THIS guy killed Richard Dragon?. Anyway, if he were used in the show, given how season 5 might turn out, he could be depicted similar to how China White was done, someone who encountered Oliver both in his time before coming back to Star City and after. The flashbacks take place in Russia and will show how Ollie got connected to the Bratva, so he could be someone whose father is a rival crime lord the Bratva is fighting, Ollie kills him, and so he prepares himself to get revenge on Green Arrow in the present day.
The New 52 was not kind to Green Arrow when it started. Granted, I haven’t read any of the issues before Jeff Lemire took over, but from what I heard they were crap and probably showed how bad The New 52 was at times. This also wasn’t good for a character who was being heavily featured in TV shows like Smallville and later Arrow. So when Jeff Lemire did his run on Green Arrow, he shook things up by introducing a villain who was Oliver’s better in almost every way possible, destroyed his company, took away his half-sister Emiko and raised her as his own, and eventually defeated by Green Arrow through sheer luck and killed by Emiko after she realized he lied to her over the years. That and there was some weird stuff going on that tried to reimagine the superhero team The Outsiders, the one that was formed by Batman, had Green Arrow as a member at one point, and still kinda existed in The New 52, into some secret society that’s kinda fucked up at times, which was pretty off-putting, but it’s only just a minor setback in the awesome yet also short-lived run by Jeff Lemire, and probably at least better than the issues that came before it and that Kingdom arc by the Arrow writers. When it was announced that he was gonna appear in Arrow, I was excited, only to see that they turned him into nothing more than a thug who operates as a mercenary for hire and gets drunk, having his ass handed to him by Green Arrow and not putting up much of a challenge. I know that season 2 had similarities to Jeff Lemire’s run, especially since they were happening around the same time (heck the guy’s company, Stellmoor International, was used, though it was run by Isabel Rochev instead and the show did utilize her character’s storyline from the comics, though it does have similarities to his in that they both have connections to Robert Queen), but he could still be used like that as well, just differently. He could actually be utilized in a way that combines how the other villains on this list would, having been someone that was part of a shady group that was encountered by Oliver during his time with the Bratva, only maybe they were both disguised at the time, which is why they don’t remember each other when they fought in season 3, and then he returns to get payback at Oliver, having made himself better since then. I’m probably going on a limb, but maybe that could be the case. The mysterious archer’s mask is kinda similar to Komodo’s, so who knows at this point.
So far from what I’ve seen of the first episode of season 5, Arrow looks like it could be getting better. It does need to shake off the stuff brought onto it by seasons 3-4, but hopefully it can find its focus and do great. If you agree/disgree with this list, let me know in the comments and who you think could be season 5’s Big Bad. Thanks for reading!