New York Comic Con 2012: ‘Arrow’ Panel Report

Stephen Amell, Marc Guggenheim and Geoff Johns chart the future of the new take on Green Arrow.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

For the final day of New York Comic Con, the spotlight fell on the CW’s “Arrow;” which is the new take on DC’s Green Arrow that also serves as successor of sorts to “Smallville.”

DC Entertainment Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns moderated the “Arrow” panel as he welcomed executive producer Marc Guggenheim and series stars Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy and Willa Holland. To kick things off, a new trailer for “Arrow” season one was shown before Guggenheim related how he and his collaborators created this new interpretation of the classic superhero character.

“Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg and myself were all huge comic book fans,” explained Guggenheim. “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 Mike Grell “The Longbow Hunters” and the [Andy] Diggle/Jock [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 indicated that the flashback sequences on the island will remain a part of “Arrow” going forward, with the island storylines sharing some thematic elements with the modern day plotlines. Amell revealed that he spends 90 minutes in makeup for the island flashbacks, but he has a goal in mind for the island’s ultimate endgame.

“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,” said Amell. “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.”

When Johns asked Holland why her character is nicknamed “Speedy” — which is the traditional superhero name of Green Arrow’s sidekick, Roy Harper —  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.”

Cassidy sidestepped the question of whether Laurel would transition into her Black Canary superheroine identity, 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.”

The evolution of Colin Donnell’s Tommy Merlyn was also teased, with Guggenheim pointing to events in episode 7 that will give Tommy additional complexity. While Tommy may ultimately develop into darker character that is closer to his comic book counterpart, there are plenty of villains ahead for Arrow to face this season.

“We like to say that there is a ‘Biggest Bad’ and a few ‘Big Bads’ throughout the year,” related Guggenheim. “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.’” 

Guggenheim.also praised actress Jessica De Gouw as a future star and spoke highly of her performance as Helena Bertinelli aka The Huntress in the seventh episode of the season. “You’ll see that Helena comes on to the show at a moment where Oliver really needs someone like her,” offered Guggenheim, who co-wrote episode 7 with Johns and Kreisberg.

Despite Thea Queen being set up as a potential Speedy to Oliver’s Arrow, Guggenheim admitted that “we’ve definitely talked about Roy [Harper] 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.” Even Connor Hawke was mentioned as a possible character in the future.

Near the end of the panel, Johns turned the panel’s attention back to an “Arrow” digital comic book series written by Guggeheim and Kreisberg; which will eventually be collected into print.

Guggenheim exclaimed “what’s really cool at least for us — 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.”

“Arrow” airs Wednesdays on the CW.