Oliver: The city still needs saving. But not by the Hood. Or some vigilante who’s just crossing names off a list. It needs something more.
Diggle: It needs a hero, Oliver.
Felicity: It’s too bad The Hoods kind of ruined your nickname.
Oliver: No, it’s good. I don’t want to be called The Hood anymore.
Diggle: Okay. So what do you want to be called?
Choosing a name, finding an identity, takes time. A person doesn’t just turn from a playboy to a vigilante because he killed a bird and put some muscle on. Yes, Oliver kills a chicken (and puts some muscle on), and he learns from these experiences…but Oliver also kills a person out of instinct (at the end of season 1), then Oliver kills out of desperation, fury, anger, and hatred, and he begins killing to survive. He is changing. That is the genius of this show…it shows the that the whole thing is a process, a change in body, mind, soul, focus…everything. At first Oliver is just learning to survive…he sits on the life raft waiting for dad to solve the problem (that doesn’t work out), he kills a chicken for food and realizes that survival takes sacrifice, he learns to survive under authority (following Slade around), and then on the boat he has to begin stitching up his own wounds.
Oliver’s process from surviving to vigilante is slow and intertangled with a lot of complicated events/memories. The process of becoming a hero is even more complex and requires more than just one person, and, to become a superhero, everything has to come together with just the right balance of right and wrong, self-reliance and dependence, fight and flight, reality and dreams.
What do you want to be called? A survivor? A vigilante? A hero? A superhero? You won’t get there over night…it’s a process that takes time, sacrifice, many changes in identity, and a lot of help from others. It is not easy to go through but it is possible.