Arrow, the hit CW series that set off a mini DC Comics universe on TV six years ago, has a certain visual aesthetic. It all began with a gritty vigilante vibe, and though the show has expanded its comic book lore considerably over the course of five seasons, something about those rain-soaked streets in Starling City makes almost all of the characters fit a certain tight-costumed, tactical vibe. We've seen it throughout the show from the designs of both Black Canary costumes to the numerous iterations of the title character's own vigilante gear.
As Arrow enters Season 6, another regular character is getting a costume change: Wild Dog, the Navy SEAL-turned-vigilante played by Rick Gonzalez. The character's backstory was already notably changed in certain key ways to get him from comics to screen, and now his costume's getting an overhaul, too. Last season, Wild Dog looked like what you see above: combat boots, camo pants, a football jersey with body armor underneath, and his classic hockey mask to hide his identity. Now, as the character becomes a more deeply entrenched member of Team Arrow, he's evolving into this:
You can see several nods to the original costume here. The mask is still unmistakably a hockey mask, though it's been given a more elongated design, and the red chestpiece certainly evokes the old jersey. Still, it's clearly an attempt to assimilate one of the Arrowverse's more ragged characters into the Oliver Queen aesthetic. Your mileage on this costume may vary, but one person was certainly not happy about it: Artist Terry Beatty, who co-created Wild Dog in 1987 and designed the original costume. In a post on his Facebook page over the weekend, Beatty addressed the new costume and held nothing back:
"THIS, ladies and gentlemen is what the powers that be at the ARROW TV show have decided is Wild Dog's new 'improved' look. Yup -- THIS is Wild Dog. Since the costume and name were all that survived from the comic book to begin with, this is now literally Wild Dog in name only. This change erases any trace of the original Collins/Beatty concept for the character. I would not be surprised if his name gets changed before too long, as well.
Whatever was unique about his 'street level' costume has been replaced with the current standard issue dark armored uniform -- a generic 'third Imperial Guard from the left/Death-Blood-Stroke-Stryke/Image big gun' look. Sigh..."
Beatty makes some good points here. One of the great charms of Wild Dog was that he wasn't just another leather-and-Kevlar-clad dude covered in pouches and gunbelts like so many vigilante heroes of the late '80s and early '90s. He just kinda used what he had, and it looked cool. Hockey mask aside (and that new mask really is cool) this costume looks like it could be worn by 10 other characters and we might not know the difference. All that said, Beatty did have a few kind words for the show and the actor who embodies his character.
"Oh well, I got a year's worth of seeing how cool my costume design looked on screen -- a validation of my work in a lot of ways. I suppose it was too much to expect it would last.
"I will tip my hat to Rick Gonzalez, who I feel has done a fine job in the role and has a strong screen presence. I wish him luck in going forward with this and whatever else he does down the line."
Arrow premiered its sixth season, in which Gonzalez returns as a series regular, last Thursday on The CW. What do you think of the new Wild Dog costume?