When TVLine first described the character supposedly named “Daniel,” we all expected to see Ted Kord join the Arrowverse in Season 3. Judging by all the references to Kord Industries on Arrow thus far, and an admission by executive producer Andrew Kreisberg, it’s clear that Blue Beetle’s alter ego was their first choice for the role of Queen Consolidated’s tech-savvy savior. Though Kreisberg claims Ray Palmer is an “even better” fit than Kord, I’m not so sure.
The Atom was DC’s own suggestion to replace Kord, for whom they have “other plans,” but given fan skepticism regarding DC’s handling of some of its most important characters (Superman, Nightwing, Superboy, Teen Titans, etc.), words from the horse’s mouth don’t necessarily mean what they used to. If the goal was to replace Blue Beetle with a similar hero, why not actually replace him with a similar hero?
I present to you… Mister Terrific.
Michael Holt, the second DC Comics character to take up the mantle of Mister Terrific, is much like Blue Beetle in that he is an athletic genius who made millions in the electronics industry. Specifically, Holt sold his company Cyberwear (“smart wearables,” anyone?) to none other than Bruce Wayne, with whom he shares somewhat of a rivalry. Since Arrow’s Oliver Queen is arguably a Batman stand-in of sorts, that rivalry could have been easily redirected toward Arrow (if not in total, as Oliver simply isn’t quite as intellectually gifted as the Dark Knight).
Perhaps the most obvious reason why Holt would have been a great fit is the nature of his origin story. “Daniel” was said to have “a tragic past that will drive him to become a tech-powered superhero.” Ray Palmer does not have a tragic past, and frankly, neither did Ted Kord until Lex Luthor and Ultraman accidentally killed his father Thomas Kord in the recent Forever Evil event. Michael Holt’s past, on the other hand, is tied directly to tragedy. When his pregnant wife dies in a car accident, Holt considers committing suicide. He is inspired by the life story of Terry Sloane, the original Mister Terrific, and decides to become the new Mister Terrific: a tech-powered superhero.
It’s important to take into account the fact that the Atom will most likely not be shrinking on Arrow. Had the powers that be opted to introduce Mister Terrific to the Arrowverse instead, they wouldn’t have to worry about explaining away or awkwardly postponing the Atom’s most famous ability. Mister Terrific could much more easily be grounded in reality, as the saying goes.
There are also the physical requirements of being a hero on Arrow. TVLine asked us to think of “Daniel” as “a business magnate in Ryan Gosling’s body.” Given Holt’s status as an Olympic decathlete—a gold medal winner at that—I think it’s safe to say that Mister Terrific would fit right in on a salmon ladder.
The above image comes from DC’s current Futures End event, in which Mister Terrific is a major character. While not outright villainous, Holt is definitely out for himself in this story, and his actions lead to a dark future in which the artificially intelligent Brother Eye has turned everyone that matters into an evil cyborg, and killed or enslaved everyone else. Batman Beyond travels back in time to stop Mister Terrific from accidentally causing an apocalypse, leading to the events shown above.
To my knowledge, Palmer has generally been portrayed as an up-and-down good guy, and as such we have little reason to question his endgame on Arrow. His “bad guy” factor mostly comes from his brazenness and his interference in Oliver and Felicity’s ongoing non-relationship. Holt, however, is being written with mysterious motivations right now in the comics, which might have added a certain ominousness to an Arrowverse interpretation of his character.
Now for the elephant in the room.
One recurring criticism I’ve seen of Arrow as of late is the dwindling diversity of its cast. For example, the once prominent black character Walter Steele—Oliver’s ex-stepfather and former CEO of Queen Consolidated—has yet to appear in Season 3 at all. Even more interesting is the apparent whitewashing of Sandra Hawke, historically the mother of Oliver’s son Connor Hawke. In the comics, Sandra Hawke is black and Korean, but same does not appear to be true of the actress who played her at the end of Season 2.
Every single major superhero who we know will officially occupy the Arrowverse by the end of this season (Arrow, Arsenal, Canary, the Flash, Firestorm, and the Atom) is white. They’re all white. Simply put, this wouldn’t be the case if Arrow had gone with Mister Terrific instead of the Atom as Blue Beetle’s replacement. As strong as Diggle and Detective West are as supporting characters, they are still in many ways only extensions of the eponymous heroes of their respective series, and as such don’t carry the same weight as would a superhero of color like Mister Terrific.
So, am I the only one who thinks Mister Terrific would’ve been a smarter choice across the board? Let me know how you feel in the comments below. A lot of bloggers say that just to say it, but I’m genuinely curious to see how fans of the show or even just of the character feel about this would’ve-could’ve-should’ve idea.
PS: Shout out to Brandon Routh. You’re holding your own out there. Keep it up.