“Arrow” soared to new heights in its second season, introducing more DC Comics characters to The CW’s burgeoning small screen DC Universe and gaining both critical acclaim and increased viewership. Executive Producer Marc Guggenheim promises a third season filled with identity crises for pretty much everyone in Oliver Queen’s orbit, a brand-new Big Bad and even a new comic book series to bridge the gap between seasons 2 and 3.
Speaking exclusively with CBR News at The CW’s party for the Television Critics Association, Guggenheim says plans are afoot to quickly knock Stephen Amell’s Oliver off the high he’s riding in the aftermath of Season Two.
CBR News: Marc, give us the bird’s-eye view of the season ahead — the overarching look at what you have planned.
Marc Guggenheim: Every year, we start off with a theme. If Season One was about Oliver going from sort of vengeance to vigilante and Season Two was about vigilante to hero, this year, it’s all about identity. And what is exciting about that, unlike the other two seasons, is that theme actually resonates with all of the characters on the show. Every single character has has a story and an arc that relates to identity, the theme of identity. So this is really the first year where Oliver’s overarching theme is going to be really reflected in just about every character we have, so that’s one of the things that really excites us.
Is there going to be a new driving villain throughout the season?
Yes, absolutely. We follow the Joss Whedon model — we give this a Big Bad each season. This season will be no exception. But what’s fun about Season Three is when the season begins, right at the very open, everything’s just going great. Everything’s coming up Arrow. They’re riding the high of the victory over Slade from last year. And it’s fun to do that and to see everyone sort of enjoying their lives. And then it’s more fun to tear it all down.
Of the characters that have come in out of Oliver’s life in the last two seasons, who are you eager to see reenter his life?
I’m always eager to see Jessica De Gouw as Helena Bertinelli back. We love Jessica — love writing for that character! I don’t know if this quite includes Oliver, but the Suicide Squad was such a fan favorite last year, definitely got to bring them back — Michael Rowe was at the office today, really loved seeing the Suicide Squad. Who else? I don’t know if it counts because we sort of treat her like someone who’s not in and out of Oliver’s life, but sort of more of a mainstay, but now that we can say Caity Lotz is coming back with her recurring role as Sara [Lance] is very exciting to us.
Does that necessarily mean that Caity’s still our Black Canary, or is there room for that identity to shift to somebody else — say, perhaps Laurel?
Well, the thing we’ve always said is Sara is the Canary. Without a modifier. That’s my answer. I’m sticking with that.
Tell me about Ray Palmer.
Well, Brandon Routh is playing him, as been widely reported, and he’s just a great deal of fun. What makes Ray so much fun is he’s basically the smartest person on our show. The guy’s a scientist. He’s an inventor. He’s basically brilliant, and he has plans that go beyond his designs on Queen Consolidated. He actually has an agenda that will impact all of Starling City.
Whether it’s Ray as the Atom or somebody else, are you thinking about incubating another character this season that could jump into their own show in the same way that you did with the Flash?
The difference, here with the Flash, we knew we were doing that at the very beginning of the year. Those episodes were designed to launch the Flash. Originally, we were doing a backdoor pilot, episode 20. We don’t have any plans like that now. That said, quality problem. If a certain character resonates with people, it’s wonderful. But I think it would be more like an organic kind of, ‘Oh, wow, people are responding to that character — spin them off.’ As opposed to, like, from [the] jump, this is what the plan was.
You’ve done some pretty fun stuff with the comic books tie-ins themselves. Are there plans for more of that?
Thank you, for asking! Yes, finally, someone asked! Yes, we are doing something that I am incredibly excited about. Myself and Keto Shimizu, one of the writers on the show, we are going to write “Arrow Season 2.5,” and we are going to bridge the end of Season Two with the beginning of Season Three. And we’re going to answer questions. We’re going to introduce characters. And because it’s being written by me and another member of the staff, it will really fill in some major gaps. And what’s nice is because the digital copy is going to come out in September, that means, for a month, it’s your only “Arrow” fix. And I could not be more excited about it. It’s a great deal of fun because we’re writing it basically, not just to answer these questions, but we really, really want to push ourselves to come up with sequences that we could never afford on the show in a million years.
Who’s going to draw that?
Yes. Joe Bennett is our artist. He drew our “Adventures of Superman” story that I wrote. He is amazing. He just brings a level of dynamism and shot composition to everything he does. This is the first page, and it’s going to be our “Season 2.5” version of the saga sell — ‘My name is Oliver Queen…’ And when I say stuff that we can’t afford — Roy and the Arrow hanging off of a C130 in midair — it’s going to be a lot of fun.
Any room for my personal favorite Oliver Queen artist, Mike Grell?
Actually, I love Mike! He did [work for the “Arrow” tie-in comic] in Volume One. One thing that we are doing with this series, which unlike last series where it was like a la carte artists. We’re telling one continuous story line, and we’re trying to keep one continuous team. But I would love to like be able to do a satellite story or have Mike do a cover or something. I love Mike to death, and his work is amazing. Working with him as been like one of the great joys of this experience for me. So I’d love to figure out some way to get him involved in this.
“Arrow” Season 3 premieres October 8 on The CW.