Oliver: Crime happens in this city every day. What do you want me to do stop all of it?
Diggle: Sounds like you have a narrow definition of being a hero.
Oliver: I’m not a hero.
Oliver doesn’t consider himself a hero. I don’t think most heroes do…most heroes have been through too much, lost too much, and seen too much to consider what they are/do to be heroic. It is more like atonement, survival, or a desperate attempt to find hope in their eyes. When someone stays quite, shuns recognition, or rejects statements like “you’re a hero,” it is probably a big sign that they are a hero or at the very least that they have been through something that has made them see the complexity of the world. (I talk more about this in a Harry Potter based essay I wrote called “The Silent Champion“…if you’re interested)
Our typical definition of a “hero” may not always apply and loving someone (or fighting for some cause) may not always come out in the ways the general world expects it to (another essay about this…What Truly Defines a Hero). Oliver understands that things are complicated, that he has done a lot of things he regrets as well as things that have helped, and he is pointing out that stopping every crime is not only impossible but also that it will not necessarily “save the city.”
What does truly defines a hero? What makes you a hero?