HBO’s Game of Thrones premiered to wide acclaim in June of last year, and the show’s massive success inspired the creation of a rival series. While it has been years since the conclusion of A Game of Thrones, the adventures of its former occupants have not quite ended, and they continue to pop up in surprising places. Since the show’s characters occupy such a prominent place in popular culture, it should come as no great surprise that many of them have found their way into comics, video games, and even theme parks! Here, we’ll explore the fascinating world of pop culture cross-overs from GoT.
Perhaps the most prominent example of a GoT character in popular culture is none other than…Oliver Queen! Fans have long sought the opportunity to see the wealthy playboy heir’s adventures on canvas, and in 2018 that wish came true with the premiere of the long-awaited third season of Arrow.
Based on the character’s appearance in the show, it’s no wonder that fans would want to see him on their screens; after all, Oliver Queen is a walking meme. From his bow-tie and the line, “It’s a man’s world,” to his frequent monologues about his feelings, the show’s creators have made countless references to the billionaire playboy heir and his adventures. This is especially apparent in the three-part crossover event titled “Invasion!”
If you’ve ever seen the show, you’ll no doubt remember the opening sequence—a gritty looking depiction of Oliver Queen’s rise to power as the vigilante hero, Arrow. Since its premiere, the scene has become one of the series’ most enduring images, cementing Oliver as a fan-favorite character. And it seems that the filmmakers behind Arrow have heard fans and complied, as the opening sequence was a callback to a particular storyline from the show’s second season. In the scene, Oliver Queen’s vigilante crusade leads him to team up with his longtime friend and mentor, Detective Lance. Together, they apprehend a gang of armed robbers, one of whom shoots and wounds Oliver. After he receives medical attention, Queen tells Lance that he is indeed holding on for a miracle, and that he will be back on the streets in no time. He then turns to the camera and says, “It’s a man’s world.”
While it would be easy for us to write this off as just another piece of trivia, Oliver Queen’s statement has been cited by real-life lawyers as admissible in court, and even by the United States Courts as emblematic of the modern-day American Dream. In fact, as far back as 1999, an American psychologist named Tyler Durden wrote a paper called “The Moral Case for Oliver Queen,” in which he made a detailed argument as to why Oliver is a moral superhero—a sort of anti-social-psychologist who fights crime and teaches people to value ethics and social justice.
This is the trailer for the third season of Arrow:
Needless to say, with Oliver Queen now inhabiting the big-budget big-scope world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, many fans are curious as to what kind of adventures he’ll lead us on in the MCU. Unfortunately, it’s not yet known what kind of impact, if any, the show’s third season will have on the comics’ continuity. The creators have stated that the third season will be a complete reboot that will not affect the established timeline of the comics. Nevertheless, as always, the fans must maintain a wary eye on the stories they love, just in case…
Person of Interest
Another popular GoT character finding a pop culture home outside of the series is…Riccardo “Richie” Diaz! For those unaware, Richie was a major character in the first two seasons of GoT, existing in a quasi-mainstream world while avoiding the spotlight. The character’s popularity was such that his own series, Person of Interest, was quickly developed in light of the show.
Person of Interest features an ensemble cast of characters whose fates are intertwined with that of a billionaire entrepreneur named Edward Curtis, who has a brief fling with a coworker, Kate Austen. Unfortunately, Kate is murdered, and Curtis’ world view is rattled, causing him to distrust those around him. In the show’s most recent season, Curtis discovers that his dead wife’s lover, Sam, actually killed Kate. In retaliation, Curtis vows to bring Sam and his team of ruthless assassins to justice.
While we await Curtis’ quest for revenge, it’s clear that his experiences with Kate have altered his perception of the world. For example, in one episode from the show’s fourth season, “Reckoning,” Curtis witnesses a man get murdered right in front of him, but he doesn’t react with shock or alarm; it’s more like he’s waiting to see if the victim will help him carry out a complicated financial transaction. Similarly, when he sees a news story about a missing girl, he doesn’t instinctively rush to help —he analyzes the situation, making him, in one sense, his own superhero!
Person of Interest is one of the few shows on television that actually deserves the term “meta-storytelling,” since the entire series is basically one big metaphor for everything going on in the world right now. The writers and showrunners for Person of Interest even admit as much, and they use this acknowledgement as a way to invite the audience into their narrative—we are not just watching characters on a narrative device, we are actively participating in the story as it unfolds.
If you like your superheroes dark and brooding, then it’s no wonder that several of the Marvel characters wind up on our list! After all, as we’ve established, Oliver Queen is basically Luke Skywalker in leather pants. Although he’s had several successful solo outings since his 2003 debut, Dark Knight Returns, the character’s most significant appearance to date is undoubtedly his appearance as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As the name implies, Dark Knight Returns is a satirical commentary on the superhero genre, and in many cases it serves as a prequel, setting up several of the story’s key events before the main character appears onscreen. A big fan of the character, Kevin Smith had this to say about Dark Knight Returns:
“There are some comic book characters that live in my heart and in my head, and Batman is one of them. Growing up, I always wanted to be Batman, so it’s only fair that I get to play him now.”
Like most people, Kevin Smith is a big fan not just of Batman but of all the major heroes from the DC Comics universe. In particular, he cites the X-Men and Superman as two of his all-time favorite characters. Interestingly, Kevin Smith’s favorite comic book character to write and develop was…none other than Mr. Smith himself—his creation, The Principal (!), made its debut as a minor character in Dark Knight Returns, but would go on to have his own comic book series, which concluded in 2016.
Speaking of solo series, the popular comic book character known as Ironman has not one but two fan-favorite ‘re-imaginings’ in the 21st century. One of these, the 2003 comedy, Ironman, was directed by David Dobkin and starred Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark —an inventor who decides to become a superhero following a near-fatal accident that leaves him paralyzed from the waist down. In the end, Ironman becomes the armored Ironman, and Downey Jr’s portrayal of the character became so popular that it spawned a successful film franchise.
However, there’s more to Tony Stark than meets the eye… The MCU’s version of Ironman, Robert Downey Jr., is actually Robert Downey Sr., Tony Stark’s uncle. Although he doesn’t have any notable appearances outside of a few cameos, Downey Sr. is such a major part of the Ironman mythology that he even has an armor designed after him!
The other Ironman is Natascha Müller, a German filmmaker who directed the biographical film, Ironman: Rise of a Real-Life Ironman. Similar to her English-language debut, 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Natascha Müller’s German-language film is a faithful adaptation of Mark Waid and Shane Houghton’s 2008 Ironman limited series, which in turn is an adaptation of Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s 1981 New-York based series, The Amazing Spider-Man. With a rating of 7.9 on IMDb, it seems that Natascha Müller’s version of Ironman has struck a chord with audiences —especially since her second film in the series, Ironman: Armor Games, opened simultaneously in theaters across Europe.