The first episode set the stage to retell Green Arrow’s origin story as wealthy playboy Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) returns home to Starling City after years lost at sea to uncover the conspiracy behind the corruption of his home town.
After the premiere, TV Guide’s Damian Holbrook introduced “Arrow” co-creators Andrew Kreisberg and Marc Guggenheim, executive producer David Nutter, and stars Stephen Amell and Katie Cassidy for a series of questions.
With the start of an all-new DC Universe on television, Holbrook asked just how much of the comic book would make its way to the small screen. Kreisberg answered, saying that they’ve already made plans to introduce China White, the villain from Andy Diggle and Jock’s “Green Arrow: Year One” series from 2007.
“We’re very excited to announce that in an upcoming episode of Arrow, China White will be played by Kelly Hu,” said Kreisberg.
Audiences were also directed to the cameo of a Deathstroke mask early on in the episode as something that will be expanded on in the future.
Guggenheim explained that the writers are very conscious of the wealth of history they have to draw on and will be making use of it in both big and small ways.
“One of the things that we’re always doing is we’re working in little Easter Eggs,” said Guggenheim. “There’ll be big pieces of the DC Universe but there will also be tiny little nuggets that you’ll have to listen carefully and watch carefully to appreciate and notice.”
Moving to the casting, the showrunners said they didn’t have to look very hard to find their star.
“Stephen was the first person to come in and audition for Oliver,” said Guggenheim. “We asked him to wait outside for a minute so we could all look at each other and say, ‘Holy crap, we got him on our first try.'”
“I really liked the pilot, and who doesn’t want to play a super hero on TV,” said Amell, who also joked, “I’ve always wanted to play a villain, but this will do for now.”
Amell wasn’t a comic fan before signing on to “Arrow,” but has since read everything in the character’s recent history, starting from “Year One.”
Amell wasn’t the only one enthralled with the script for the pilot. David “The Pilot Whisperer” Nutter, who previously directed both “Smallville” and “Supernatural”, is aiming for his next big CW hit as an Executive Producer of the show.
“It’s the most enjoyable experience I’ve ever had on a pilot,” said Nutter. “This script that Andrew and Mark and Greg [Berlanti] put together was something I looked at and said I really want to be involved in it.”
Arrow is set in a more grounded universe than “Smallville, the network’s last DC Comics-based show, and the costuming reflects that. Guggenheim credits costume designer Kelly Atwood with translating the super-hero look of Green Arrow into the real world.
“We said, start with a leather jacket and a hood. It should be so grounded and realistic that if you walked down the street with the jacket and a hood, nobody would look twice,” said Guggenheim. “One of the things we’re always saying is that Oliver isn’t wearing a costume. He’s wearing something that gives him a predatorial advantage.”
Oliver Queen isn’t the only hero starring in “Arrow,” though. Katie Cassidy is also ready to step into Black Canary’s fishnet stockings when the time comes.
“If that’s what the costume is going to be, Cassidy said, “if it happens, I think I’m ready to take it on.”
Cassidy’s Dinah “Laurel” Lance begins the pilot as a lawyer and Oliver Queen’s estranged ex-girlfriend. The showrunners said her transition into heroics will be “not as soon as you want, but a lot sooner than you’d think.”
Of course, the giant elephant in the room was the question of why create a new Green Arrow when Justin Hartley’s character on “Smallville” had already been so recently established.
“The thing about the Justin Hartley version of Green Arrow was that he was terrific, but he was a function of ‘Smallville,'” said Guggenheim. “It’s part of the nature of the vigilante. You want to do a dark story. You want to do a dark conflict here. I just don’t think with the tone that was established on ‘Smallville’ we could go as dark as we obviously did with the pilot.”
The “Arrow” pilot, without delving into heavy spoilers, makes it clear from the start that this Green Arrow won’t have the same no-kill policy as your traditional super-hero.
“If we were going to take this series and we were going to ground it in reality, if you were being realistic, you couldn’t expect that Oliver was going to take on something so monumental without there being collateral damage,” said Amell. “He’s trying to clean up the city. It’s not the easiest thing to do and there are snapped necks along the way.”
Following the ten-year run of “Smallville,” the final question asked of Amell and Cassidy was if they were prepared for a similarly long run of “Arrow.”
“Absolutely,” said Cassidy. “I’m so happy to be here and honored and lucky and kind of can’t wait.”
“We’re going to go back and shoot our next episode on Wednesday,” said Amell, “and if everything goes well, we’ll be doing this for the next decade.”
“Arrow” premieres Wednesday October 10 on the CW.