Sunday at NYCC kicked off bright and early in the IGN theater with a panel showcasing Arrow, The CW’s newest live action series based in the DCU. Since Arrow had already premiered four days prior (as the most-watched show on the CW in three years), the audience was able to provide feedback and opinions on what they had seen, as well as receive a few hints about what to expect in season one.
Moderating the panel was DC Entertainment Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns, who clearly gets to do a lot more than write comics now. Joining him was Arrow executive producer, and fellow comic writer, Marc Guggenheim, and cast members Stephen Amell (Oliver Queen), Katie Cassidy (Laurel Lance), and Willa Holland (Thea Queen). Before the discussion got going, the audience was treated to a new trailer for season one, featuring some DC heroes, villains, and a few surprises. Check out the trailer below.
Sharp-eyed fans will spot Deadshot, Deathstroke, Huntress, China White, and The Royal Flush Gang among the DC characters that will cross Oliver Queen’s path this season. And I think I speak for many fans when I say, “Holy sh*t, John Barrowman!”
When the screaming fans had picked their jaws up off the floor, Guggenheim opened the discussion about how he and the show’s creative team brought this new interpretation of Oliver Queen to television. “Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, and myself were all huge comic book fans,” he explained. “Andrew and I have written comic books. Andrew specifically wrote Green Arrow. We came to this as fans and we approach each episode as fans. The Longbow Hunters and [Green Arrow] Year One series were huge influences on our take. They’re both indicative of the very grounded, realistic - dare I say Nolan-esque - approach that we’ve tried to take with the show.”
Guggenheim also explained that flashback sequences on the island where Oliver was stranded for five years will remain a part of Arrow as the series moves forward, with the island storylines providing parallels to what goes on in the present. Stephen Amell revealed that he spends 90 minutes in makeup for the island flashbacks, joking that the wig he wears is incredibly uncomfortable. He also shared his thoughts on what to expect from Ollie’s experiences on the island. “When [Arrow] went to series, I was hoping that Oliver, when he got to the island, would be really beaten down to nothing before he rises back up again. As Oliver Queen in the present day, he’s unflinching. And he does some things that are pretty difficult to wrap your head around. The island helps explain why he does it, why he has to do it, and it helps you relate to the character more.” Amell also spoke briefly about his time training for archery on the show. The actor watched a 45 minute video on all the ways archery had been done poorly on film and television before even picking up a bow. "The archery world has a term - it's called Legolasing," he said. "I didn't want to Legolas."
Geoff Johns then spoke up, coyly asking Willa Holland why her character is nicknamed “Speedy.” Holland replied, “Because I am ready to kick some butt! I am ready to pick up a bow and arrow whenever you guys are ready to write it in for me.” She might not be Roy Harper or Mia Dearden, but I think we can expect to see Holland wielding a bow in the future.
Keeping the topic on the future of potentially costumed characters, Katie Cassidy dodged the question of whether Laurel would don Black Canary’s fishnets, but Guggenheim jumped in to say “I think episode 3 gives a pretty good idea of what [Laurel] is capable of [and] where [she] may ultimately be headed.” Let’s just hope she looks better than Alaina Huffman did with that butch haircut in Smallville.
Johns then opened the floor for audience questions. The first fan thanked Guggenheim for bringing John Barrowman on the show. "John plays a character shrouded in mystery," said Guggenheim. "We still wanted to get him to do the show and we're really fortunate to have him. He's incredible. The one word that comes to mind is magnetic. The fun part of his character is that he's sort of a change agent for the show. Every time he talks to a member of our cast, it affects those characters in different ways. You'll get a chance to experience him in a variety of different kinds of scenes."
After a question from another fan, the development of Colin Donnell’s Tommy Merlyn was also teased, with Guggenheim pointing to events in episode 7 that will give Tommy additional complexity. Regardless of whether or not Tommy will evolve into his comic book counterpart, Guggenheim also stated that there will be plenty of other villains to keep Oliver busy. “We like to say that there is a ‘Biggest Bad’ and a few ‘Big Bads’ throughout the year. One thing that we are cognizant of as we arced out the first season is that there needs to be highs and lows and crescendos and little climaxes along the way. It’s 22 episodes, so you’re telling a very long, multi-chapter story. We like to think of the first five episodes as one chapter, six through nine as another chapter. And each chapter needs to build to some kind of big momentous event, so that requires multiple ‘Big Bads.’”
A fan of Roy Harper wanted to know whether fans would see him on the show. “We’ve definitely talked about Roy and we have a pretty cool idea for him. All things in good time, but the take for Roy that we have is pretty badass.” If Thea becomes Speedy, we can probably expect Roy to show up as Arsenal.
Following a question about how the cast and crew hope to keep Arrow from becoming a stereotypical TV trope, Amell took the opportunity to answer. "Oliver's not a good guy, Oliver's not a bad guy. Oliver's a guy with a mission. I love television characters that don't compromise. On shows that I enjoy, all the characters - just as male leading characters - have a set of ideals. They're not trying to win a popularity contest. I want people to be interested in what I do and invest in it."
Another audience member asked about Amell's Arrow costume. "I can put it on by myself, it takes 5 minutes to put on, it's totally functional, it's totally real, everything on it has a purpose," said Amell.
"Everything has a function to it," added Guggenheim. "When Stephen says it's a costume, he's really referring to it in an industry sense. Oliver should be able to put the hood down and wear a jacket and he should be able to walk down the street. The purpose of the suit is to give him a strategic edge as a hunter.” Guggenheim said more about the uniform would occur in the flashbacks of episode two.
As the panel started to conclude, Johns turned attention to the Arrow digital comic series, written by Guggeheim and Kreisberg, which will eventually be collected into print. “What’s really cool, at least for us and hopefully for you, about the comic is that it’s cannon. So, everything that happens in the comic ties into the show. For example, if you picked up or you downloaded the digital comic that was released last week in conjunction with the premiere of the pilot, it actually takes a scene from episode 2 and sort of reenacts it verbatim but flashes forward to key moments in the life of the series in the first season. The second chapter that will be released on Wednesday gives you China White’s backstory and China White appears in the second episode of the show,” continued Guggenheim. “It’s very tightly integrated and it’s written by myself, Andrew, and the other members of the writing staff. We’re not farming anything out to third parties so that it fits with the show in a very, very tight hermetically sealed way.”
To wrap up the panel, the trailer was shown one more time as the panelists left the stage and fans applauded.
Arrow airs on the CW at 8pm on Wednesday nights. And be sure to check out OTF’s review of the Arrow pilot if you haven’t already.