Following its season premiere on the CW, “Arrow” came to New York Comic Con 2012 ready to show off with a panel on the final day of the show. Featuring series stars Stephen Amell (Oliver Queen), Katie Cassidy (Laurel Lance) and Willa Holland (Thea Queen) along with producer Marc Guggenheim took the stage in a packed theater for a special video presentation and question and answer session with the audience looking back at last week’s pilot and forward to the rest of the first season.
DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns took the stage clad in a Green Lantern hat and Dr. Pepper shirt and introduced the panel, starting with Marc Guggenheim.
“Instead of talking about [what I’m excited about], why don’t we show some stuff?” asked Guggenheim. A clip began playing with Stephen Amell saying “My father left me a list of names,” and detailing his reason for becoming a vigilante. Clips were shown of Oliver’s time on the island, a sneak peek of John Barrowman’s character. Plus an interaction with Laurel Lance and Amell’s Arrow character. The first footage of Deathstroke also appeared, alone girth a fight between Arrow and China White, Deadshot attempting to assassinate someone and a number of quick cuts with a ton of action. “Every last one of them will wish I had died on that island,” Amell, as Arrow, said at the end of the clip.
Cassidy, Holland and Amell joined Guggenheim on stage following the clip and Johns kicked things off asking Guggenheim about comic book influence.
“Obviously, Andrew [Kreisberg] and I write comic books. We approach each episode as fans,” he said. “‘Longbow Hunters’ and ‘Year One’ are huge influences on our take.” Guggenheim further described the approach as “Nolan”-esque.
Amell 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.”
Holland commented on the fact that she was called “Speedy” in the pilot and said she was ready to pick up the bow.
Cassidy said her experience playing Laurel Lance as “awesome.”
“Where do I see her going? Marc? Do you have an answer to that question?” she asked.
“I think episode three gives a pretty good indication of what you might be capable of,” said Guggenheim. “I would watch episode three.”
“You’ll definitely find out a lot about Laurel and her history and where she’s going,” said Cassidy.
Guggenheim said there will be a few “big bads” and a “biggest bad” during the season.
“You’re telling a very long, multi chapter story,” he said. “Each of these chapters need to build to some big momentous event. You saw those guys with the hockey masks are the Royal Flush Gang. You’ll see them in episode six.”
The crowd also cheered for Deathstroke, and Johns noted a lot of the street-level characters from the DCU will appear on the show, which gave Guggenheim the opportunity to speak briefly on the Huntress.
“You’ll see that Helena comes on the show in a moment where Oliver really needs someone like her,” Guggenheim said. The seventh episode of the season will deal with Helena and is written by Kreisberg, Guggenheim and Johns.
Guggenheim went on to talk about the concept of the island in “Arrow.”
“The first flashback in episode two picks up where the flashback from episode one leaves off,” said Guggenheim, who said the flashbacks will continue throughout the series. “For us as producers, one of the best parts of the show quite frankly is the opportunity to go in each week and do those flashbacks. … Each flashback, even though we’re proceeding in chronological order, has some kind of resonance with what is going on in the main story.”
Amell said he had to do an hour and a half of makeup to do the island sequences and the wig hurts but, “I really enjoy it.”
“When we 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. “Oliver in the present day is unflinching and he does some things that it’s kind of hard to wrap your head around. The island explains why he has to do them.”
Johns 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 get him on the show. … 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.”
A question about Tommy Merlyn came up, and Stephen Amell noted Colin Donnell wanted to be at the panel but was at a wedding. Guggenheim spoke briefly about the character and whether viewers will see his decent into darkness.
“Starting in episode seven, things start to happen for him that are both good and bad,” said Guggenheim. “It’s that mix that will add an interesting level of complexity.”
Amell gave a bit of trivia as to his process for Oliver.
“Oliver tends to keep eye contact a lot and I based it on Gus from ‘Breaking Bad,'” said Amell.
The lead actor also spoke briefly on the evolution of his character looking to the future.
“We’re shooting episode nine right now and I can’t see the evolution that much, but I do know episode nine is everything I wanted for the series,” said Amell. “We play on the idea that Oliver is just a regular guy and thus is vulnerable. We say that a lot, but in episode nine we prove it.”
A fan asked about Amell’s favorite aspect of playing Oliver Queen.
“I saw four distinct characters in the pilot,” said Amell. “It’s really fun going forward that almost everything I say in the show can have a double meaning.” Amell said to look out for a nod to the DCU between himself and Cassidy in episode five. “When we have those moments we can give a wink to the audience, I love doing that.”
Amell noted that he had always had a lot of physical training in his life, as he played sports growing up and was up for a part in the Starz series “Spartacus.” After coming in on “Arrow,” he undertook a heavier training regimen that included archery and parkour.
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,” said Guggenheim. “All things in good time. The take for Roy we have up our sleeves is pretty badass.”
Following a question about how the cast and crew hope to keep “Arrow” from becoming a stereotypical TV trope, Amell responded.
“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 invested in it.”
Guggenheim was very excited for fans to see Huntress on an upcoming episode.
“I’m really looking forward to showing you guys the Huntress,” said Guggenheim. “If you reacted how you did to Deathstroke, just wait until you see her.”
In terms of bringing in other DC Universe characters, Guggenheim said a lot of it came down to the organic writing process.
“It’s something we’ve been talking about a lot lately,” said Guggenheim. “We would love to create some new characters and put some new pieces on the board.” The writer described the process of writing episodes and that everything begins with the question, “What is Oliver going through this week?” That process helps to inform what kinds of DC characters get used.
While many of the fans were complimentary, one questioner demanded an explanation for the change from “Star City” to “Starling City.”
“Star City had a less grounded city to our ear,” said Guggenheim. “We made this creative decision to make it Starling City. At the same time, we wanted to tip our hat to the comic book origin of Star City.” The writer also said that in the “Arrow” mythos, Starling City’s nickname is “Star City,” as seen in the “Arrow” preview comic given out at CCI 2012.
Guggenheim is doing an “Arrow” DC digital comic with Andrew Kreisberg and Mike Grell (as one of the rotating artists) that is canon and will help expand the series mythology.
“The second chapter that will be released on Wednesday gives you China White’s backstory,” he said. “It’s very tightly integrated and it’s written by myself, Andrew and the other members of the writing staff. Everything is done in house so it’s with the show in a very tight way.”
One of the questions that came up was whether the boxing-glove arrow will make an appearance.
“You’ll see a variation on that,” said Guggenheim.
“I punch guys in the head,” offered Amell.
A question arose about Amell’s Arrow uniform.
“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,” said 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.
Guggenheim also spoke about the Speedy connection that Thea Queen has to the comics, saying there was a cut scene where Thea is crushing pills and grabs a junior archery trophy to use as a tool to do so.
With that, the panel wrapped. The footage was shown one more time as the panelsits left the stage and fans applauded.