How ‘Arrow’ Handled Gun Control and Why Oliver Queen Is the Mayor We Need

James Akinaka
TV Arrowverse
TV Arrowverse

Last week, Arrow departed from its usual superhero fare to tell a story unlike anything the Arrowverse has ever attempted: a narrative touching on the real-world debate about gun control. The result, entitled “Spectre of the Gun,” is Arrow‘s most groundbreaking episode to date.

The series took a break from Oliver Queen’s season-long hunt for Prometheus and instead tapped into a hot-button socio-political issue. The episode, written by executive producer Marc Guggenheim, is remarkably poignant. It tackles the gun control debate head-on, yet in a nuanced and meaningful way.

Moreover, it shows how Oliver Queen can solve problems not as the Green Arrow, but as Star City’s mayor. Here are all the ways “Spectre of the Gun” shows us why Oliver Queen is the mayor we need…

Oliver Queen understands how important his job is.

In the episode, Oliver must confront the issue of gun control when City Hall suffers from a deadly shooting. At a press conference following the attack, Oliver is caught off-guard when a reporter asks about his stance on gun control. Oliver abstains from answering, but he reacts by meeting with various city leaders and citizens to form legislation that protects people’s rights as well as their lives. It’s far from an easy task, but Oliver knows how important it is.

“Spectre of the Gun” does an excellent job of illustrating how Oliver doesn’t take his role as mayor lightly. Instead of issuing a half-baked piece of legislation, Oliver takes the time to educate himself and hear different perspectives about the issue. He does his best to understand the ramifications that his actions will cause. That’s what makes him effective as both an elected official and a leader. He may moonlight as the Green Arrow, but Oliver brings a fresh perspective to Star City’s Office of the Mayor.

Oliver knows when to solve problems as Star City’s mayor instead of as the Green Arrow.

One of the key points of “Spectre of the Gun” is that Oliver Queen isn’t a politician. Far from it. Not only is he a superhero with an ambiguous relationship with the law, but he also lacks any sort of political experience. Although he isn’t a seasoned politician, Oliver finds a way to help Star City heal from the deadly shooting.

As Deputy Mayor Quentin Lance tells Oliver, “This is a problem that the Green Arrow can’t solve.” Even if Team Arrow brings the shooter to justice, the cycle of violence will persist. Team Arrow members Rene Ramirez and Curtis Holt even debate whether the issue should be called “gun control” or “gun violence.” Particularly through Curtis’ and Rene’s opposing perspectives, “Spectre of the Gun” acknowledges key points on both sides of the gun debate, without elevating one side over the other.

Superhero shows like Arrow rarely devote an entire episode to a socially-charged storyline like this. And yet, that’s exactly what “Spectre of the Gun” does. Ultimately, it’s good that Oliver spends more time during the episode as mayor instead of as the Green Arrow. It shows that he knows that fighting crime as a superhero isn’t the solution to every problem.

I’m not sure if I’d vote for Mayor Queen, but he’s an exemplary leader.

Oliver Queen may be an effective mayor, but he’s not a perfect one — nor should he be. Admittedly, because of the grueling nature of politics, I doubt Oliver could have become mayor if the public had known about his checkered past. During his five years away from Star City, Oliver did what he needed to do in order to survive. As Arrow‘s flashbacks have shown, Oliver’s exploits include being a torturer, a murderer, and a member of the Russian Bratva.

Even though Oliver might not be the perfect mayoral candidate, he’s become a hero. He’s struggled through his past, and the threat of Prometheus certainly hasn’t helped him do so. Yet, at the end of the day, Oliver is making strides toward becoming a role model. Friends like Felicity Smoak and John Diggle bring out the best in him, and he does the same for them. In any case, no one said being a mayor would be easy.

Ultimately, “Spectre of the Gun” shows that the best stories help audiences see their world differently. The episode does just that, by offering different perspectives on how elected officials should act. The episode also illustrates how challenging it can be for people to protect both their legal rights and their lives. Hopefully, this isn’t the last time we get to see a powerful story like this in the Arrowverse.

James Akinaka
James Akinaka arrives at Fandom by way of Wookieepedia. He covers Star Wars, superheroes, and animation and has mastered the art of nitpicking. Since he works in publishing, he reads far too many books.
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