If you look up to the sky, you may see a bird or a plane, but you definitely won’t see Superman.
Despite Hollywood’s current obsession with all things superheroes, caped crusaders and men of steel remain pure works of fiction, unless you happen to walk into a comic book convention. Supervillains, on the other hand, are quite real. Lex Luthor and the Legion of Doom look like schoolyard bullies compared to all the henious acts committed by iron-fisted dictators, maniacal billionaires and shadowy military forces over the decades.
While super-powered vigliantes aren’t taking to the streets to fight crime, that doesn’t mean the world is devoid of beacons of hope. For “Arrow” star Rick Gonzalez, world leaders and even everyday people can be heroes, especially those who’ve overcome an immense amount of adversity in their lives.
The actor tells Metro that he thinks of Barack Obama as a superhero because of the way he was able to lead the nation during his presidency in the face of overwhelming opposition.
“He is the ultimate hero,” Gonzalez says. “The dignity, strength and ability to run the country the way he did for 8 years, and the ability to become president prior to that, understanding that no one in Capitol Hill wanted to see a black man president… that, to me, is a real world superhero.”
Although the Justice League can only save the day on the big screen, the world of comic book heroes can impact society in other ways, inspiring fans to see the best in themselves and others. According to Gonzalez, who plays the gun-totting vigilante Wild Dog, they can also speak truth to power by giving creators a platform to tackle serious issues.
“If we’re going to do a comic book TV show, then we still can’t be afraid to touch the layer of truth that’s happening in our world and even go to the past and revisit some of those ugly moments that we might not be comfortable speaking about,” Gonzalez says. “We can use art to open up a discussion, heal, help and just have a dialogue.”
It comes as no surprise then that the CW’s “Arrow” and its sister superhero programs will soon face an enemy that’s apparently resurfaced in the real world with their upcoming crossover episodes. Supergirl, Green Arrow, Flash, Wild Dog and the rest of the gang will take on Nazi dopplegangers from another universe, which wouldn’t seem like such a timely conflict if it wasn’t for the surge of neo-Nazism in 2017.
Gonzalez believes that the upcoming television event is extremely relevant and, in many ways, mirrors the struggles happening today.
“When we talk about Nazis, we’re talking about a regime that was trying to eradicate people and, in an extremist way, impart their views on the world,” Gonzalez says. “In so many ways, you see that today. There’s so many different factions trying to impart their ideals onto others and there’s no inclusion happening.”
“That’s the general idea when we’re talking about superheroes and supervillains, two sides trying to fight for their ideals,” he adds. “Ultimately, we’re taking that idea and pushing it to the boundaries.”
“Arrow” airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on the CW.