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I admire you, Oliver. It takes a special kind of idiot to actually get dumber with time.
~ Malcolm Merlyn to Oliver Queen
Human connections are what keep us human. And it's sad that it-- that it's a sociopath who's gonna have to point this out to you. You can't live on an island. You've already tried. But you are always gonna have people in your life, Oliver, and they will always need you, for better or worse, baggage and all. And if you can't accept that, well, your past is gonna stay your anchor.
~ Malcolm Merlyn to Oliver Queen

Malcolm Merlyn (born Arthur King), also known as the Dark Archer, is a major character in The CW's Arrow and one of the main antagonists in the Arrow-verse shared universe, as the main antagonist in Season 1, an anti-villain in Season 2, the secondary antagonist turned anti-hero in Season 3, the tertiary antagonist turned anti-hero/supporting protagonist in Season 4, an anti-hero/supporting protagonist in Season 5 and a posthumous character in Season 7, He also appears in Season 2 of the spin-off series DC's Legends of Tomorrow as one of the two secondary antagonists (along with Damien Darhk) and a member of the Legion of Doom.

He is the father of Thea Queen and the late Tommy Merlyn (Oliver's half-sister and best friend, respectively). He is the mastermind behind the Undertaking and the former leader of the League of Assassins. He is based on the character of Merlyn the Archer from the comics.

He was portrayed by John Barrowman.

Personality

Before his wife's death, Malcolm was a kind man who loved his wife and son very dearly, and was a devoted businessman and humanitarian, striving to save Starling just like his wife, Rebecca. After his wife's death, he became heartbroken and was haunted with guilt that he had not been able to help her. During his mourning period he also had an affair with Moira, which guilt-riddled him even more. He seemed to enjoy spending time with Tommy, even smiling when he heard Tommy having nightmares because it gave him an excuse to spend time with his son. He was shocked and confronted the (presumed) killer which ended with Malcolm killing him. Unable to live with what he had done he left his son and went to Nanda Parbat. Training there he changed his perspective on the world and how he could help his city. He returned as an apathetic, calculating, and ruthless man. He began to develop a plan to destroy the Glades completely, believing that this way he could help the city. He believed what he was doing was right and is for the greater good, and was willing to do anything, regardless of the number of lives he ruins and will kill anyone who gets in his way to see his goals fulfilled, which makes him somewhat of a sociopath. He truly believed in the righteousness of his cause, projecting this in his acceptance speech for "humanitarian of the year". He also truly loved his wife, still wearing his wedding ring so many years after her death.

Malcolm is a charismatic person, able to project his own beliefs and self-righteousness into his words. His acceptance speech for the humanitarian of the year award was so compelling it even managed to catch the attention of China White. Malcolm seemed to have a slight ego as Robert Queen said that Malcolm had "something of a God-complex" and had a hostage read out that he will kill them if The Arrow "doesn't surrender to his authority". He blames all the people living in the Glades for his wife's death, not just the person who killed his wife, but also the ones who walked past his wife while she was dying which unfortunately results in his own son's death. Like Oliver, he is prone to emotional outbursts, although this rarely happens due to him being calm and level-headed. Malcolm also has no guilt and remorse using people for his personal gain and then killing them once they became loose ends to keep them from going public with information he wouldn't otherwise want to be public information. Malcolm is also tactically intelligent, as once the Undertaking was nearing, but the Arrow was endangering his mission, he began his own "anti-Arrow" persona as the Dark Archer knowing that the police would blame the Arrow and people would lose faith in him. He was shown to be quite confident in his fighting skills as he beat The Arrow multiple times in combat. He mentioned the reason he came out on top was because he knew what he was fighting for. Malcolm is calm in battle and willing to fight anyone that is a threat to himself or the ones he cares for. So far, the only person he is afraid of is Ra's Al Ghul.

Despite his insanity, ruthlessness, and cold heart he still loves his son dearly and wants what's best for him but has a rather harsh way of showing it which often leads to Tommy pushing Malcolm away, such as cutting off his trust fund to "jolt him into adulthood". After the undertaking, he is deeply upset about causing the death of his son making him desperate to have a relationship with Thea. He started to pressure Moira in telling Thea the truth and was convinced she needed him as her father. The only reason he stopped this was when she informed one of the few he feared Ra's Al Ghul about his survival. This forced him to flee. He was willing to return to Starling City after Moira was killed to check up on Thea, despite still being hunted by the League of Assassins, and tried many times to get her to safety and eventually succeeding. Malcolm, like Tommy, does love Thea but when training her was willing to hurt her to push her enough to fight back and managed to train her to tremendous skills after 6 months, but does go easy on her and originally wanted to take a less aggressive approach to her training. Malcolm can be very convincing as he continually stressed to Oliver that he was not responsible for killing Sara and swore on Thea he did not do it. Even when Oliver had a bow aimed at him and when Nyssa kept trying to kill him having not believed him, and was completely honest about the body count on his hands admitting it was too numerous to count. Malcolm does show strong parental instincts as the most merciful thing he offered Chase for attempting to kill Thea was a quick painless death.

It was later revealed he had been lying after all, as he had drugged Thea and made her kill Sara to force a reaction of the League of Assassins. Knowing Oliver would try to protect his half-sister, he used this to create a duel between Oliver and Ra's. He hoped Oliver would manage to somehow kill Ra's al Ghul, which would make the League stop hunting him. In the process he had lied to and manipulated everybody including his own daughter. This caused Oliver to ponder whether Malcolm is even capable of loving someone, as his actions only seek to serve himself. However despite Oliver's beliefs, Malcolm is devastated by his death and revealed to Thea that he regards him as family, truly believing Oliver's desire to save Thea would have been enough to kill Ra's. It is shown in "The Undertaking" that Malcolm does care for Oliver, an example of this is when he beat The Hood to a pulp and expressed regret after he unmasked him and realized he was actually Oliver.

He had some trouble sharing his secrets with Thea; however, he became more open to her after she demanded explanation about his actions. He was shown to deeply regret his decisions in the past after he learned the real killer of his wife was still alive. In an emotional moment he told Oliver all his decisions and the deaths he caused could have been avoided if he had not killed the wrong person for the death of his wife. He seemed to look for redemption as he spared Brickwell and was willing to train Oliver.

Malcolm is shown to have a deep interest in various warrior cultures. This was shown as his office was decorated with Asian statues and Japanese swords. In his secret room he had racks of swords and other weaponry from multiple cultures.

Abilities

  • Peak of human physical condition: As a highly skilled assassin, Malcolm is shown to be in top physical condition. In all three of his confrontations with Oliver, Malcolm has demonstrated to be quite a match if not a superior fighter. In their first confrontation, Malcolm was strong enough to severely injure Oliver and was able to break three of Oliver's ribs by kicking him in the abdomen repeatedly. He has also demonstrated sufficiently high enough strength to break Oliver's bow in half with a single strike and knead a steel beam with a single kick. His reflexes allowed him to catch an arrow shot at him by Oliver during their second confrontation. He was also shown himself to be able to dodge an arrow and fire one directly after Oliver tried to shoot him in their first confrontation.
  • League of Assassins training: Malcolm has gone through the training all League members do. He likely possesses skills with a variety of other melee weapons such as swords,
  • Master archer: As the Dark Archer, Malcolm proved himself as an expert archer with astounding archery skills, a feat acknowledged by Oliver seeing how tightly grouped the arrows shot to Adam's body were.He was able to shoot three arrows at once and pin Nyssa to the wall by her clothing without injuring her. He was successfully able to catch Oliver off guard and wound him. Because of this, Malcolm's archery skills can be considered equivalent if not superior to Oliver's. He uses a customized compound bow. He was even able to combine his CQC techniques with his archer abilities to pin down Nyssa without killing her.
  • Master hand-to-hand combatant/Martial artist: Malcolm has shown to be a highly skilled martial artist and hand-to-hand combatant, learned from the League of Assassins during his time in Nanda Parbat and other training he received elsewhere. He was able to incapacitate two Chinese Triad members (disarmed one and kill the other with his own gun). Malcolm was able to best Oliver in hand-to-hand combat once, even knocking him out after a brutal fight in their second encounter. In a third encounter he was able to fight both John and Oliver at the same time. He was able to fight a Mirakuru-enhanced henchman at close range, landing multiple strikes without taking a hit. While being attacked by Nyssa al Ghul he dodged her sword strike and tossed her to the floor in mere seconds. However now that Oliver had been trained by Ra's al Ghul, Oliver was able to subdue Malcolm in a sword fight within seconds.
  • Stealth: As a highly trained assassin Malcolm was shown to be highly skilled in stealth. This was shown as he was able to approach and kill targets without being noticed. After his first fight against Oliver he escaped the scene without being seen.
  • Skilled tactician/Genius-level intellect/Great business acumen: In his daily life, Malcolm was the CEO of Merlyn Global Group, overseeing its daily activities and ensuring its success as a multi-billionaire corporation. Malcolm has proven himself to be remarkably clever when it comes to devising plans and battle strategies, He even managed to catch Oliver off guard on at least 2 occasions and was almost able to kill him. One of Malcolm's plans involves the deaths of thousands of people living in the Glades, However, after he found out Oliver is The Arrow, and that he knew about The Undertaking and the Markov Device, he accelerated his plan to level the Glades that same night. As a fail-safe for his master plan (and in an attempt to maximize devastation upon the area) he had a second device placed in the east sector of the Glades, devoted to leveling this sector.
  • Master swordsman: Malcolm is trained and highly skilled with a variety of swords. In "Muse of Fire", Malcolm was shown fencing with experience, also in "Trust but Verify", Malcolm's secret room where he keeps his Dark Archer equipment was shown to house several racks of swords of various kinds.
  • Indomitable will/High tolerance for pain: Using his will he is able to ignore pain and can pour hot water over his hand without flinching.
  • Network: Malcolm has a very high network of people all over Starling City, including one in the coroner's office, which he used to fake his death.
  • Toxicology: Malcolm was able to use votura to create a drug that made Thea kill Sara without remembering it.
  • Expert computer hacker: Malcolm was able to spy on the computers in the Arrowcave without Felicity being aware of it.
  • Skilled magician: Malcolm can perform slight-of-hand magic trick including making a coin seemingly appear out of nowhere. He is also a master of hypnosis.

Equipment

  • Customized PSE Chaos AD Compound Bow: Malcolm. as the Dark Archer, uses his signature weapon of choice: A Customized Compound bow.
  • Customized Hunting Arrows: Malcolm creates and designs his arrows himself. The arrows he used have arrow heads with three "Teflon-coated titanium blades" on each arrow, with the blades serrated for splitting bones, and the shaft itself is made of "specialized polymer stronger than typical carbon fiber". As such, it is safe to assume that the arrows he uses are deadlier than those used by The Arrow.
  • Trick arrows: In "Streets of Fire", shortly after his return, Malcolm uses an explosive arrow to save Thea and seemingly kill one of Slade's Mirakuru henchmen.
  • Quiver: An arrow container strapped to Malcolm's back. 
  • Throwing Knives: When fighting Oliver and John, Malcolm utilized double bladed throwing knives.
  • Swords: Malcolm uses a huge variaty of swords from different cultures. He first used a scimitar to kill two police officers, during his third fight with Oliver. Malcolm was shown using a scimitar against Oliver, though he was very quickly disarmed by Oliver. While training Thea they used both Japanese and Chinese swords. When preparing to kill Brickwell he carried a Chinese Dao.
  • League of Assassins Costume: Malcolm wears a costume, used by the members of the League of Assassins, as his villain alter-ego, the Dark Archer, to hide his identity from his victims. The majority of the materials it's made out of are unknown, with the exception of Kevlar.
  • Voice Filter: Malcolm uses this device to change his voice regardless of who he spoke to as the Dark Archer. This could be for the purposes of intimidation as it changed his voice to a deep, low growl.
  • Smoke bombs: After incapaciting Nyssa, he threw a smoke bomb to quickly escape the scene.

Appearances

Arrow

Season 1

  • "An Innocent Man"
  • "Damaged"
  • "Muse of Fire"
  • "Year's End"
  • "Trust but Verify"
  • "Betrayal"
  • "Dead to Rights"
  • "Salvation"
  • "Unfinished Business"
  • "The Undertaking"
  • "Darkness on the Edge of Town"
  • "Sacrifice"

Season 2

  • "State v. Queen"
  • "The Scientist"
  • "Streets of Fire"
  • "Unthinkable"

Season 3

  • "The Calm" (mentioned)
  • "Sara"
  • "Corto Maltese"
  • "The Magician"
  • "The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak"
  • "The Climb"
  • "Left Behind"
  • "Midnight City"
  • "Uprising"
  • "Canaries"
  • "The Return"
  • "Nanda Parbat"
  • "The Offer"
  • "Public Enemy"
  • "Broken Arrow"
  • "The Fallen"
  • "Al Sah-him"
  • "This Is Your Sword"
  • "My Name Is Oliver Queen"

Season 4

  • "Green Arrow" (mentioned)
  • "Restoration"
  • "Brotherhood"
  • "Legends of Yesterday"
  • "Dark Waters"
  • "Unchained"
  • "Sins of the Father"
  • "Code of Silence"
  • "Taken"
  • "Broken Hearts" (mentioned)
  • "Beacon of Hope"
  • "Eleven-Fifty-Nine"
  • "Genesis"
  • "Monument Point"
  • "Lost in the Flood"
  • "Schism"

Season 5

  • "Legacy" (mentioned)
  • "Invasion!" (dream)
  • "Who Are You?" (mentioned)
  • "Kapiushon" (flashback)
  • "Honor Thy Fathers" (mentioned)
  • "Missing"
  • "Lian Yu"

Season 6

  • "Fallout" (mentioned)
  • "Divided" (mentioned)
  • "Doppelganger" (mentioned)
  • "The Thanatos Guild" (flashback)
  • "Docket No. 11-19-41-73" (mentioned)

The Flash

Season 1

  • "All Star Team Up" (mentioned)

Season 2

  • "Legends of Today"

Season 3

  • "Duet" (as Cutter Moran)

DC's Legends of Tomorrow

Season 2

  • "The Chicago Way"
  • "Raiders of the Lost Art"
  • "The Legion of Doom"
  • "Turncoat" (mentioned)
  • "Camelot/3000" (mentioned)
  • "Fellowship of the Spear"
  • "Doomworld"
  • "Aruba"

Trivia

  • Prior to "Muse of Fire", Malcolm was simply known as the "well-dressed man". His identity as Tommy's father was discovered in that episode while he was practicing fencing. Malcolm, at the time, was masked, when Tommy confronted him about his empty credit cards. Malcolm took off his mask to reveal his face to the audience, confirming his identity. His first name however wasn't revealed until "Trust but Verify".
  • In "Year's End", after Oliver claimed that the vigilante needed a new nickname other than "The Hood", Malcolm suggested the name "Green Arrow", a clear reference to the vigilante's original DC comics name. However, Oliver disliked the name, stating that it was lame.
  • The arrows Merlyn uses resemble the ones used by Smallville's version of Green Arrow, portrayed by Justin Hartley.
  • In DC Comics, this character's real name is Arthur King who uses the name Merlyn as his super villain alias. 
  • His first name may be a reference to Malcolm McDowell, who voiced the Merlyn character in the Green Arrow animated short film.
  • Alongside Billy Wintergreen and Helena Bertinelli, Malcolm Merlyn was one of the only three characters in Season 1 shown to be swift enough to catch an arrow in mid air. However, while Helena and Billy only performed this once, Malcolm performed this feat twice.
  • It was revealed in the end of "Dead to Rights", Malcolm spent two years in Nanda Parbat when Oliver was around 9, and Tommy was around 8 where he received mentorship from another individual. It is most likely (confirmed in the DC comics) that it is where Malcolm learned archery and how to fight. This would explain why he was able to almost best Oliver in their first fight and defeat him in their second fight as he has been training a lot longer. Therefore, he has at least 20 years of experience on him.
  • Malcolm is currently the longest surviving antagonist in the series since his first appearance on Arrow.
  • Malcolm is one of the only characters to have bested Oliver in combat more than once, and one of even fewer who have managed it without the aid of Mirakuru.
  • While training Thea, he was seen wearing a hakama and Japanese clothing. He also referred to Japanese philosophy. This implies he probably has had training in martial arts outside the League of Assassins.
  • While a member of the League of Assassins, Malcolm was known as "Al Sa-Her" (in Arabic: الساحر), which in Arabic means (the) Magician. Nyssa Al Ghul fist called him like this after he performed a magic trick. This name was possibly also chosen as a play on his surname "Merlyn," (which is a variant form of the name Merlin) due it coming from the legendary figure, Merlin, who is best known as the wizard (or magician) featured in Arthurian legend. It's also a reference to the comics, since Arthur King (the Dark Archer's civilian identity) presents himself as "Merlyn the Magician" during his debut.
  • The other members of the Undertaking are unaware that Malcolm is the Dark Archer; whenever he is with the Undertaking, he simply refers to his alter-ego as "our associate", and occasionally threatens them with a visit from "our associate". Therefore, he acts as his own Dragon.
  • Malcolm was initially the main antagonist in season three, but was eventually outranked by the true main villain.
  • He is the second main antagonist to be credited as a main character followed by Slade Wilson. He is shortly followed up by Prometheus in Season 5 and Black Siren in Season 6.
  • Malcolm has been confirmed to become a series regular for not just Season 5 of Arrow, but Season 3 of The Flash and Season 2 of DC's Legends of Tomorrow.
  • Malcolm is the overarching antagonist in Arrow because he has appeared more than any other villain, and his actions have impacted the heroes in one way or another.
  • Malcolm is currently the longest surviving antagonist in the series since his first appearance on Arrow.
  • For now, Malcolm was one of the main antagonists of the Arrowverse to be still alive. The other was Hunter Zolomon and Slade Wilson. Hunter is killed by Caitlin Snow, became Killer Frost, in the Flash Season 3 finale "Finish Line", and in Arrow Season 5 "Lian Yu" Malcolm Merlyn is killed by a landmine and Slade Wilson, Eobard Thawne and Ricardo Diaz are only of the main antagonists to be alive in the Arrowverse.

See Also

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