Captain of the Ship: Stephen Amell’s Legitimization of Non-Canonical Relationships

Curator's Note

Shippers are often at odds with producers, seen as concerning themselves with their “OTP.” Producers must remain diplomatic with rival ships, never showing preference as to prevent alienating any segment of their audience. Stephen Amell has eschewed remaining impartial when it comes to his character’s love life. In comic book canon, Amell's Oliver Queen, aka the Green Arrow, paired with Dinah “Laurel” Lance (Katie Cassidy), aka the Black Canary. Set up as the show’s “official” couple, as in the comics, the audience found it difficult to connect with Laurel and her relationship with Oliver.

However, Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) was introduced in a one-off guest role, and quickly became a fan favorite. Felicity was adapted from a minor DC character, though she became a fully-realized individual and fan favorite through Rickards’ performance. The chemistry between Amell and Rickards and Oliver and Felicity’s interactions were recognized by both shippers and producers, becoming one of the primary--and most popular--elements of the show. “Olicity” is the rare fan-preferred pairing that became “endgame,” their relationship has become synonymous the show.

With an audience including comic book fans fixated on fidelity, Amell’s continuing endorsement of the non-canonical Olicity relationship validates shippers, though criticism remains. Olicity has been frequently blamed for a poorly-received third season, the writers spending too much time pandering to fans and forcing the relationship. The season had other weaknesses, and for once objections to Olicity weren’t about its lack of canonicity. The ship was still blamed when other problems combined to bring the show down, and critics have been vocal in their objections.

However, the shippers remain steadfast, validated by their interpretation of the relationship repeatedly being confirmed by Amell. He was playing certain scenes the way shippers saw them, and he does agree with their assessment of how Oliver sees Felicity and he knows that his relationship with the canonical Laurel is over, just like they do. One could argue Amell is only backing Olicity as part of the show’s promotion; Olicity sells, so his advocacy ensures shippers will keep watching. However, Olicity shippers still see him as one of their own; even his facial expressions are seen as confirmation of his solidarity with their beliefs. He is their Captain, a presence legitimizing their place in the fandom and validating their reading of the character and show.



Add new comment

Log in or register to add a comment.