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John Diggle (also known by his alter ego Spartan) is a fictional character portrayed by David Ramsey in The CW and DC Comics Arrowverse franchise. Diggle, an original creation by Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg, first appeared in the 2012 pilot episode of the television series Arrow. In the series, Diggle is introduced as a military veteran and Oliver Queen's new bodyguard. Over time his relationship with Oliver evolves and he becomes his best friend and confidante in his crusade as the Green Arrow, joining him as Spartan and for a while succeeds him as the Green Arrow. After Oliver returns as the Green Arrow, he leaves the team and joins A.R.G.U.S.

John Diggle
Arrowverse character
John Diggle Arrow.jpg
David Ramsey as John Diggle in Spartan suit in Arrow season 6
First appearanceArrow:
"Pilot" (October 10, 2012)
Created by
Portrayed byDavid Ramsey
Information
Alias
OccupationSoldier
Bodyguard
Minister
Vigilante
Counter-terrorism operative
Affiliation
SpouseLyla Michaels
Children
  • John Diggle Jr.
Abilities
  • Expert marksman
  • Skilled tactician
  • Peak human physical condition
Sidearm
  • Hand gun
  • Crossbow (formerly)

Ramsey reprises his role in the Arrowverse series The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl. The character also appears in the Arrow's tie-in novels and digital comics, as well as the Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham video game. While Diggle was originally created for the TV series, since 2013 a character of the same name has appeared in the Green Arrow comics.

Contents

StorylinesEdit

ArrowEdit

Season 1Edit

John Diggle is introduced as a former United States Army Special Forces soldier, honorably discharged with the rank of master sergeant. He is hired as the bodyguard of billionaire Oliver Queen,[1] and later becomes his confidant in his mission to save Starling City.[2] Diggle tries to help Oliver balance his normal life and vigilante life, and occasionally helps him in the field. Diggle provides Oliver with medical assistance, limiting his need for hospital treatment. Already a skilled fighter, Diggle receives additional training from Oliver. Diggle has a grudge against Floyd Lawton / Deadshot who allegedly killed his brother, Andy.[3] Diggle dates his brother's widow, Carly, and is a father figure to her son, Andrew "A.J.", during this season.[4][5]

Season 2Edit

Diggle and Felicity Smoak continue to help Oliver with his crusade and John continues to be Oliver's adviser and field partner, along with Sara Lance and Roy Harper. Diggle has a relationship with his ex-wife Lyla Michaels,[6] is an unofficial member of A.R.G.U.S., and is a member of the Suicide Squad under the codename "Freelancer".[7] He also develops an uneasy alliance with Amanda Waller who occasionally asks him for field assistance with A.R.G.U.S. missions. It is revealed that Lyla is pregnant with Diggle's child.[8]

Season 3Edit

Diggle continues to help Oliver and his team, but has to devote more of his time to his new baby with Lyla, whom he names Sara after Sara Lance is killed. After Lyla is seriously injured in an attack, they decide to remarry. When Oliver is presumed dead at Ra's al Ghul's hands, Diggle leads Felicity, Roy, and Laurel Lance until his friend's return. After Oliver's return, Diggle accompanies him to Nanda Parbat to help him free Malcolm Merlyn, but the two are captured. Diggle and Lyla marry after a near-death experience with the Suicide Squad, when Lawton sacrifices himself for them.[9] Diggle and Lyla decide to quit Team Arrow and A.R.G.U.S. for their daughter's sake. After Oliver leaves the team to join the League of Assassins as part of a deal to revive a near-deceased Thea Queen, Diggle becomes the team leader, though he is not yet ready to forgive Oliver for kidnapping Lyla as part of a deception to gain acceptance by the League.[10]

Season 4Edit

Diggle continues to protect Starling City, now renamed Star City, with Laurel and Thea.[11] Now going by the codename "Spartan",[12] he discovers that the organization that targets the newly-named Star City is H.I.V.E., who had hired Lawton to murder Andy. Diggle eventually forgives Oliver after their fight with a H.I.V.E. metahuman operative named Jeremy Tell.[13] With Quentin Lance's help, Diggle learns that Damien Darhk had Andy murdered, and that he was a drug cartel leader and Darhk's territorial rival prior to his death. However, Diggle discovers that Darhk actually faked Andy's death and recruited him as a H.I.V.E. soldier, leading Diggle and his brother to become enemies. Guilt-ridden over his brother's role in causing Laurel's death, Diggle seeks revenge against Andy and Darhk. Diggle kills Andy after the latter threatens to harm Lyla and Sara. He initially lies to Lyla, saying that he killed Andy in self-defense, but Oliver encourages Diggle to admit the truth to his wife.[14] Diggle rejoins the US Army after confiding to his wife and Darhk's defeat.[15]

Season 5Edit

Diggle is betrayed by his commanding officer, J. G. Walker, following a failed attempt to sell nuclear weapons.[16] Framed for Walker's crimes, Diggle is arrested.[17] Oliver and Lyla break him out of state prison, and Diggle stays at H.I.V.E.'s former base until his innocence can be proven.[18] Diggle remains guilty about killing Andy and continues to serve as Spartan to redeem himself. Due to the events of The Flash episode "Flashpoint", Diggle's family history is altered: his daughter Sara has been erased from existence and replaced by John "J.J." Diggle, Jr., as a result of a timeline change caused by Eobard Thawne, correcting the Flashpoint reality created by Barry Allen. Felicity is later able to prove Diggle's innocence by restoring the digital files that Walker had destroyed. However, Andy's betrayal and death at Diggle's hands has taken a toll on him; he struggles to control his rage and occasionally pulverizes criminals to vent it, fueling Oliver's concern over his erratic behavior. Diggle later befriends Oliver's chosen successor to Laurel's mantle, Dinah Drake, a Central City detective, and encourages her to set down roots in Star City. Diggle, along with the rest of Team Arrow, is later captured by Adrian Chase and taken to the island Lian Yu.[19] Chase later detonates the explosive-rigged Lian Yu by shooting himself dead, with Diggle still on the island.[20]

Season 6Edit

Diggle is revealed to have survived the explosion by taking shelter in a plane like the others.[21] However, he was wounded by bomb shrapnel and suffers a degenerative nerve injury that affects his motor control that requires taking daily medications, resulting him to develop a drug dependency.[22] When Oliver decides to retire from being the Green Arrow, he appoints Diggle as his successor, oblivious to the fact that Diggle is currently not in condition to remain in action.[23] Oliver returns to vigilantism until Diggle is fully recovered from his injury. Curtis Holt develops an implant for Diggle to help him control his tremors as he progressively recovers. After Oliver decides to remain being the Green Arrow, Diggle accepts the job offer from Lyla as one of the commanding officers in A.R.G.U.S., using his new position to lead his subordinates to maintain order in the city's police's place due to them having been compromised by crime lord Ricardo Diaz. Near the end of the season, Diggle is fully healed and no longer needing Holt's implant. His A.R.G.U.S. team later joins forces with FBI agent Samandra Watson's subordinates, and working with Team Arrow, they ultimately take back the city from Diaz, who goes into hiding.[24]

Season 7Edit

In season seven, Diggle remains working at A.R.G.U.S., and continues leading his manhunt against Diaz.[25] The combined efforts of Diggle, A.R.G.U.S. and the other members of Team Arrow (except Oliver, who is in prison) result in the successful capture of Diaz.[26] After Oliver is released from Slabside Maximum Security Prison in exchange for Diaz, Diggle and Felicity are the first to receive him.[27] Later when Diggle and Lyla investigate a painting, they realize the legendary Longbow Hunters are connected. This requires them to work with Diaz, so they approach him in his cell and ask for help.[28] Diaz is taken into A.R.G.U.S. custody and recruited by Diggle as a member of the "Ghost Initiative", his own version of the Suicide Squad, and Lyla implants an explosive into Diaz's neck to ensure his compliance. Diggle plans to use Diaz to locate Dante, the financier behind the Longbow Hunters.[29] Diggle returns to vigilantism along with Curtis and Rene Ramirez to capture the criminal Chimera. Despite succeeding, the trio are arrested for violating the city's anti-vigilante law. After Dinah threatens to quit her post as the captain of the Star City Police Department and Oliver offers to serve time along with his team, mayor Emily Pollard relents, acknowledging that Team Arrow had been instrumental in defeating Chimera and various other threats over the years, and offers to drop the charges against them, provided they agree to be deputized and work for the police, as Oliver has.[30] The Ghost Initiative is successful in locating Dante, but when Diaz betrays the team and helps Dante escape, Diggle hands in his resignation to A.R.G.U.S. in order to save his wife's job.[31] Diggle later meets his late father's commanding officer Roy Stewart; Diggle's father died during an operation abroad and he blames Stewart for leaving his father behind. Stewart went on to become Diggle's stepfather and put both Diggle and Andy through rigorous training to turn them into real soldiers, resulting in a strained relationship between Diggle and Stewart. The two finally make amends when Diggle learns that his father died because of his own negligence and Stewart is the reason anyone survived the operation.[32] After Team Arrow botches the Ninth Circle's plan to destroy Star City, Diggle takes Oliver and a pregnant Felicity to an A.R.G.U.S. safe house in the woods where the two can raise their child safe from the Circle.[33]

The season also features flashforwards that take place in 2040. These feature Diggle's adopted son Connor Hawke and his biological son John Jr., who has become the leader of the Deathstroke gang. Connor states that John Jr. grew up hating their parents and the expectations they put on them and considers the gang his way to rebel.[34]

The FlashEdit

In season 1, Diggle arrives at Central City with Oliver and Felicity to locate a criminal who uses lethal boomerangs (Digger Harkness), but ends up assisting Team Flash (Barry's team) in defeating Roy Bivolo.[35] In season 2, Diggle and the rest of Team Arrow aid Team Flash during their fight with Vandal Savage.[36] Later in the season, when the metahuman King Shark escapes from his A.R.G.U.S. prison and arrives at Central City to kill Barry, Diggle and Lyla arrive to warn the latter. After King Shark is defeated by the combined efforts of Team Flash, Diggle and Lyla, he is taken back to A.R.G.U.S.[37] In season 3, Diggle learns of the alteration of his life with Lyla, his daughter's erasure and his son's status as a time aberration, and despite the hurt caused by these circumstances, he chooses to forgive Barry.[38] In season 4, Clifford DeVoe infiltrates the A.R.G.U.S. facility holding the metahuman Fallout by impersonating Diggle and kills most of the security; overcharging and killing Fallout to be a nuclear battery for his satellites. Afterwards, Barry brings the real Diggle to S.T.A.R. Labs to reveal the location of the facility.[39]

Legends of TomorrowEdit

In season 2, Diggle aids Team Arrow, Team Flash and the Legends of Tomorrow in their fight against the alien race of Dominators, who leave Earth after being defeated.[40] In season 3, Diggle, who is an ordained minister, officiates Barry Allen and Iris West's wedding, simultaneously marrying Oliver and Felicity as well.[41]

SupergirlEdit

In season 4, John Deegan, a mad scientist, uses the Book of Destiny to rewrite reality on Earth-1; in this new reality, Diggle is working for him. This reality is undone by the combined efforts of Oliver, Barry, Kara Danvers / Supergirl and Clark Kent / Superman to restore the original reality.[42]

DevelopmentEdit

In February 2012, David Ramsey was cast in the pilot episode of Arrow as John Diggle, a "former military man now working as a bodyguard for hire who soon finds he is trapped in a battle of wits, loyalty and trust".[43] The character was created by Arrow creators Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg.[44] Named after comic book writer Andy Diggle, and created specifically for the series, Guggenheim said Diggle was designed to be Oliver's equal in "many respects" such as their abilities and intelligence. He further explained that Diggle's mutual abilities were a means of setting him up early in the series as a confidant for Oliver's vigilante persona.[45] Ramsey enjoyed the fact that he did not have to worry about matching the comic books, saying, it allowed him to "just kind of take [his character], and run with it".[46] He compared Diggle to Alfred Pennyworth from the Batman comics, calling the character Oliver's "moral voice". Ramsey, who has trained in various martial arts such as Wing Chun, Jeet Kune Do, and kickboxing, used his martial arts expertise to make Diggle believable, saying, "I think, honestly, it has to do with...having Diggle able to not just handle himself on screen but be able to really proficiently use the (martial) arts — and look like he is a trained soldier. You don't see the stunt guy. You actually see David Ramsey doing it."[47] He has stated that since Diggle is older than most of Team Arrow and, to an extent, more experienced on the field and reconnaissance fighting, the other members "look to him for some leadership".[48] While describing the other Arrow characters, particularly Team Arrow members like Felicity as "extraordinary", Ramsey said people would be able to identify with Diggle because "he's just a guy who decided to better himself."[49] He also said Diggle is not "a goody-two-shoes, but he’ll stand up in your face and tell you the right way to get something done."[50] A running gag is that Diggle, whenever taken suddenly to places by Barry Allen at super-speed, vomits as a result of motion sickness,[51] an exception being in the Arrow season 6 episode "The Devil's Greatest Trick".[52] Diggle's military career and heroism led some fans to draw comparisons between him and Green Lantern John Stewart. In 2015, Ramsey confirmed there had been talks of turning Diggle into "John Diggle Stewart". This was referenced in the 2018 "Elseworlds" crossover event, where Barry Allen of Earth-90 indicates that on his Earth, Diggle is the Green Lantern.[53]

RelationshipsEdit

Regarding Diggle's relationship with Oliver in season 1 after realizing he is a vigilante, Ramsey said that "the biggest change is that they start working together", adding that, "He [Diggle] makes it clear to Oliver that this isn't about me being a yes man. This is about me understanding what you do and what it does to you as a person. What it does to your humanity."[54]

The working relationship between the characters of Diggle, Oliver and Felicity Smoak has been described both in the media[55] and the show[56] as 'Original Team Arrow'. Commenting on the onscreen dynamic of what she termed "Arrow's most important relationship", Carrie Raisler of The A.V. Club stated "Amell, Ramsey, and Rickards have the kind of lightning-in-a-bottle chemistry that makes all their scenes together hum", in her review of the first half of season 2.[57]

Juliana Harkavy, who plays Dinah Drake, described Diggle as Drake's "best friend" and "her family".[58] After Diggle leaves Team Arrow and joins A.R.G.U.S. in season 6 due to his differences with Oliver, Ramsey said, "he obviously loves Oliver, but he sees that there's more than one way to save the city. He's still committed to Oliver, to a certain degree, but even more so than Oliver, to the people of the city."[59]

CostumesEdit

For the first three seasons of Arrow, Diggle does not have a vigilante costume.[60] By the time season 4 begins, he has gained one, which consists of a helmet and black gear.[61] Via social media, the helmet was criticized by fans for its resemblance to that worn by the Marvel Comics character Magneto. In response to the criticism, Ramsey said, "I know there's a lot of criticism that it looks like the Magneto helmet. But by the time you see Diggle in action – we also get into what the helmet can do – you won't be thinking of the X-Men at all."[62] In season 5, Diggle replaces his helmet with a new one, which Ramsey said can do "extraordinary things", apart from being just about concealment.[63] Concept artist Andy Poon said the new helmet offers Diggle "full protection". He added that, since Diggle's codename is Spartan, he decided to make the helmet resemble "an actual spartan helmet design". Poon, a comic book fan himself, thought the new helmet would fix "the issues regarding some of the fan feedback about [the older helmet] looking similar to other comic book characters".[64] Later in season 6, Diggle gains both a new Spartan costume and helmet, which eschew the gray overtones of previous Spartan costumes, and instead have a black and red scheme.[60]

Skills and abilitiesEdit

Having served in the military, Diggle is well-versed in live combat,[65] and his primarily skill is marksmanship.[66][67] He is also proficient in stick-fighting and knives. While his primary weapon of choice is a firearm, he is shown to be able to knock out people simply by striking them with his arms.[65] He has also been shown to be on par with Oliver in fighting skills.[65][68] Early in season 6, when Diggle takes up the Green Arrow mantle at Oliver's request, he wields a crossbow named "Green Monster" that was created by Felicity and Curtis and fires arrows.[69][70]

ReceptionEdit

Writing for the DC Comics website, Ashley V. Robinson named Diggle as one of her "all-time favorite characters".[51] Jesse Schedeen of IGN praised Ramsey's performance in the episode "Brothers in Arms", calling it "easily Ramsey's strongest episode in a long time".[71]

In other mediaEdit

Print mediaEdit

 
John Diggle, in his DC Comics publications' canon debut on Green Arrow #24 (Dec. 2013 DC Comics). Art by Andrea Sorrentino.

The character appeared in Arrow 2.5, a bi-weekly digital comic series that bridged the gap between the end of season two and the start of season three.[72] He also features in the tie-in novels published for the series, Arrow: Vengeance, written by Oscar Balderrama and Lauren Certo,[73] The Flash: The Haunting of Barry Allen written by Susan and Clay Griffith,[74] and its sequel Arrow: A Generation of Vipers from the same authors,[75] as well as Arrow Fatal Legacies, co-authored by Marc Guggenheim and James R. Tuck, published in January 2018. This novel bridged the gap between the season five finale and the season six premiere of Arrow.[76]

While Diggle was originally created for Arrow, a character of the same name was introduced into the Green Arrow comics during The New 52 run, in 2013,[47] but having little resemblance to Ramsey's likeness.[77] Looking at any elements of the show which would transfer to the comic-run, writer Jeff Lemire described the character of Diggle as "the breakout of that show", and wanted to incorporate elements of that into his story.[78] When DC rebooted its continuity with Rebirth in 2016, Diggle continued to feature in the Green Arrow comics.[79]

Video gamesEdit

The character appears in the Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham video game as part of the Arrow DLC pack.[80]

ReferencesEdit

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