The cast and creators of The CW’s “Arrow” appeared at PaleyFest to discuss the recently renewed hit show. Creators/executive producers Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg talked about character origins and teased upcoming events with stars Stephen Amell, David Ramsey, Susanna Thompson and Katie Cassidy.
Prior to the panel, CBR News caught up with Guggenheim and Kreisberg to talk about how DC characters find their way onto the series. “We break the story first,” Guggenheim said, explaining that the writers focus first on plot and character objectives before looking at the DCU’s selection of heroes and villains. “We break the story independent of anyone from the DC canon. For example, in episode six, we knew we wanted to have a group of bank robbers. Once the story was completely broken, one of our writers said, ‘Hey — why don’t we call them the Royal Flush Gang?’ Great idea.”
As fans are well aware, translating chosen characters for the small screen can be a tricky proposition. Kreisberg said the writing team looks to Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy for inspiration in maintaining a level of grounding in a realistic world. Building on the example of the Royal Flush gang, he noted their comic book costumes could be seen as too outlandish for the tone of “Arrow.” “They’re probably the most skewed down,” he said. “Having the playing cards on their hockey masks was the way for it to feel very real and justified in our world.”
With characters like Deadshot/Slade Wilson, the Huntress and the Royal Flush Gang all finding their way onto the show, the writing team felt they needed to start adding to the mythology as opposed to continuing to repurpose characters from the source material. “In episode 20, we meet Mr. Blank, who is our creation,” Guggenheim said. “We’ll occasionally populate the show with our own elements.” He also pointed out the Malcolm Merlyn character as a mix of an established DC Comics character, the Black Archer and their original ideas.
“When you start with, ‘Hey, we should do Mr. Freeze or Brainiac,’ that’s when you start to get into trouble, because it becomes more of a gimmick and you’re trying to force something onto your show,” Kreisberg added. “We’ve had such great success coming up with the best story we can and then ‘DC-Comic-ing’ it, if that can be a verb.”
Despite some restrictions — typically characters tied to a movie deal are unusable — Guggenheim said DC is usually receptive to the characters and Easter eggs they want to use. “On those [rare times] when we can’t do it for whatever reason, they’ll say, ‘What about this character?” They’re really our partners in the whole endeavor.”
Asked if there are any characters they’d like to use in the future, Kreisberg was quick to name a character from his favorite book growing up — “Teen Titans.” “Dick Grayson and Nightwing were always my favorite. I doubt we’ll ever get to that point. The bat-universe will never coincide with ours, but Nightwing would be my fantasy.”
“The Question — Vic Sage — I would love to tackle him at some point,” Guggenheim said. “I think he would fit really well in our little universe. So we talk about him a lot.”
Of course, the characters the producers bring into the show should always augment the central story of Oliver Queen, a point Kreisberg was quick to emphasize. “We don’t ever want Oliver Queen to not be the star of his own show, so what you’ll be seeing are more of the villains and secondary characters. We have a lot more characters in this season than anyone was expecting, and that has served us very well in addition the new characters and villains we’ve created.”
“Arrow” airs Wednesdays on Th CW