At the start of Arrow season 5, most of the original Team Arrow had gone their separate ways and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) suggested that Oliver (Stephen Amell) should put together a team of new recruits. This team consisted of existing DC Comic characters including Mr. Terrific (Echo Kellum), Ragman (Joe Dinicol), Artemis (Madison McLaughlin) and Wild Dog (Rick Gonzalez). A pretty diverse group. Mr. Terrific was already on the show as Curtis Holt, Ragman didn’t last the season because of a nuclear bomb knocking out his powers and Artemis turned out to be a traitor. Wild Dog is the only completely new character added to the show at the start of season 5 that is not only still there, but has been upped to a series regular. (Dinah Drake / Juliana Harkavy didn’t join the show until the middle of the season.)
Wild Dog first appeared in his own comic series Septermber of 1987. He was created by Max Allan Collins and Terry Beatty. The character was an ex-Marine named Jack Wheeler who left the service after most of his unit was killed by a terrorist bomb. He returned home and enrolled in night school where he met and started dating Claire. Turned out that Claire was the daughter of a mobster who had left the family to start new. She was murdered in front of Wheeler. Her will left Wheeler her money, making him wealthy. But he was still angry about her death and when a friend suggested he use the money to fight the mob, he took it literally. He donned a pair of camouflage pants, a sports jersey to cover his body armor and a goalie mask to hide his identity and went out to track down Claire’s killers.
The Arrow version is Rene Ramirez, who was married and had a daughter. He was also dishonorably discharged from the Marines. One night Rene took his daughter Zoe to a hockey game while his wife stayed home. She was killed in their apartment by her drug dealer and Rene’s anger at her death caused him to lose Zoe. He put on the costume and took to the streets as a vigilante. Over the season, the character grew from a hot head who didn’t listen to someone who connected with each member of the team differently. He pushed Curtis to used his intelligence and technology rather than trying to be a fighter. He also made a connection with Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) who had given Rene a second chance when he was a kid. The series put him in a costume that was pretty much straight out of the comics.
After the Lian Yu cliffhanger it was announced that Gonzalez would be a series regular, meaning Rene / Wild Dog would survive. I got to interview him shortly after, but the one question I wasn’t able to ask because of time had to do with his costume. I wanted to know if he was going to get an updated one. Black Canary was getting one and the series does seem to like to do new costumes every year or two. And it seemed weird to me that everyone else was in a custom made suit and Rene was wearing street clothes. When the character first appeared in the season 5 premiere, he was wearing this new suit.
I liked the new design. Though it kept some of the elements from the original while bringing him more in-line with the series. Turns out not everyone was happy with it. Wild Dog co-creator, Terry Beatty, took to Facebook yesterday to comment on the new design.
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….
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.
I feel for Terry. It has to be tough to see something you created get changed to the point you almost don’t recognize it. But changing character designs from the printed page to the screen has been happening a long time. The X-Men have never even been close to their comic designs and the Netflix Daredevil costume is cool, but it’s not the costume form the comics. Wild Dog was the most comic accurate costume I’d seen in a long time and like he said, he got to see that for a year.