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The CW’s “Arrow” Takes Aim at Our Expectations

Whether it was intentional or not (we’re looking at you, Revolution), 2012 is indisputably the year of the bow and arrow. With everyone from Katniss Everdeen to Jeremy “Hawkeye” Renner taking aim against evil, it’s clearly something that resonates with audiences. The latest marksman to grace our fair screens is no stranger to comic book fans – the Green Arrow. Fans of Mike Grell’s iconic “The Longbow Hunters” arc and the tone of Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins should mark your calendars, because this Wednesday is the start of Arrow, The CW’s dark, gritty take on the DC comics character’s tale. Like the journalistic Deathstroke that I am, I tracked down stars Stephen Amell (“Oliver Queen”) and Katie Cassidy (“Dinah Lance”) and producers David Nutter, Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg to talk about this new incarnation of Green Arrow, the innate appeal of a bow-wielding vigilante, and why Legolas needs a few more remedial archery lessons.

Nerdist: Between Katniss Everdeen, Hawkeye and now Green Arrow, this is very much the Year of the Archer. What is the appeal of this bow-and-arrow-wielding hero?

Stephen Amell: Don’t forget about the girl from Brave. [laughs] I don’t know. Maybe it’s a happy accident, maybe it’s an Olympic thing. I think it’s partially a coincidence, but it’s cool, man. Archery is an interesting activity. I enjoy it because it forces you to relax certain parts of your body that you’re almost always tense with. It was a fun skill at which to get good. I want to be good at it. The idea was that the best most expedient way to look like an expert archer… was to become one. [laughs]

Andrew Kreisberg: I think there’s only so many ways to shoot somebody with a gun. We’ve seen that before. There’s something about the skill and precision it requires to let loose arrows on people. It’s very seductive. Like I said, anyone can shoot a gun, but watching Oliver get out of a situation with just a quiver full of arrows is exciting.

Marc Guggenheim: The thing about the zeitgeist is that sometimes there’s no rhyme of reason to it. When we started developing Arrow over a year ago, we weren’t looking ahead to say, “Oh, there’s this Pixar movie, there’s Hunger Games, etc.” You can get philosophical and say it’s the Jungian collective of consciousness, there’s the Olympics as well, but I really can’t account for it. There’s just something in the water. I don’t think any of these projects were developed in reaction to the other projects. It was just a weird zeitgeisty thing that happens sometimes.

N: Stephen, how long have you had to train for this series and, in regards to the stunts and physical sequences, how much of that is actually you?

SA: It’s me as long as they’ll let me. There are insurance considerations, y’know? During the pilot, which filmed in 2011, the star randomly sprained her ankle and it cost the production millions. I had a good four weeks of intense training – three weeks of archery training – which laid a good foundation. As the series goes on – you’ll see – it’s a very different animal than the pilot, so I think I’ll be in good shape.

N: What was one of the most surprising things you learned about archery while training?

SA: [laughs] Professional archers hate Orlando Bloom. They hate him! They refer to bad archery – like they sometimes show on TV or in movies – as Legolas-ing.

N: Wait, seriously?

SA: Yes! When he goes to release an arrow he’s drawn back, he releases his hand with this huge flourish, which would totally mess up the shot. It makes it look like he has no idea what he’s doing; in reality, it’s much more subtle. [he mimes drawing an arrow back on his bow] You just pull back…and release. [he lets go of the imaginary bow string with a soft touch] Simple as that.

N: Katie, you’re playing DC’s sultry siren Dinah Laurel Lance (a.k.a. Black Canary); how familiar were you with the world of Green Arrow before signing on to the project? 

Katie Cassidy: I’ll be honest with you – I wasn’t, but obviously after reading it and getting the role, I was beyond excited.

N: Would you consider yourself a geek? Is there something about genre pieces in particular that attract you or is it more of a specific role?

KC: It’s a little bit of both. I was really excited that this was based on the comic book. I grew up playing video games and computer games, so I was a little bit of a nerd. [laughs] As for other genre pieces, I actually just shot a movie called The Scribbler. Ironically, that character was what drew me to the project, which was also based on a graphic novel, so I guess I do find myself attracted to these sort of projects.

N: This is a much darker, edgier take on the story of Green Arrow. What can you tell us about that?

AK: Yeah, we actually have a line in the pilot script where Oliver breaks a guy’s neck and it says, “Now you know, this is not your father’s Green Arrow.” [laughs] That was sort of our mantra on the pilot; we always set out to do something dark and more grounded with the character that hadn’t been done before.

David Nutter: If you do something bad, you may get killed. This is not the TV version of Green Arrow; this is the adult story of a man who is basically fighting systematic injustice and trying to find his way in the world.

Guess who's coming to (murder you) for dinner?KC: It’s very edgy and dark, but grounded in reality. The audience will be able to relate to these characters. Everything that Oliver has learned – he doesn’t have any special abilities or powers – they’re all things that people could learn, so that makes it more accessible.

N: We understand that you’re trying to avoid using superpowers in the series in order to keep it grounded in reality. What can you tell us about that?

AK: There’s no supervillains or superpowers on the show. No aliens. This is the world of Oliver Queen. But, that doesn’t mean you won’t be seeing a lot of familiar characters from DC; they’ll just be seen in the context of the world we’ve created.

MG: We’re always trying to take a “world outside your window” approach. This is not a show about superheroes; this is a guy taking the law into his own hands like a vigilante. We’re always asking ourselves the question: is this something that could happen in the real world? How do we make this believable? It’s not only “would this happen?” but also “how would the people in this world react to these events?” What would the cops do if they noticed a crimefighter in their midst – put a spotlight on the roof? [laughs] They’re not even all on the same page with calling him the Green Arrow; they’ve got a bunch of different names for him. Their reactions help set the tone for the show because they’re the audience’s reactions. They take their cue from the characters’ reactions. As long as the characters are grounded and realistic, that’s what the audience will take away from the show.

Your move, Gosling.DN: This is all about real world sensibilities and characters. The characters from the DC Universe will be the realistic versions of those characters; they’ll be grounded, which is very much what we wanted to do with the show.
MG: You’ll definitely want to watch the opening moments of the pilot for sure, but there will be more guests from the DC Universe in the following episodes. I’d love to include little Easter eggs here and there, like Dinah, who, as comic book fans know, becomes Black Canary, singing karaoke really badly and a glass breaks. I’d also like to include elements from the DC Universe; for example, in episode three, Oliver goes to a burger joint and I’d really like it to be the Big Belly Burger from Superman comics. It’s about taking pieces of the big tapestry of the DC Universe and, however we can, bringing them into the show.

Arrow premieres October 10th at 8/7c on The CW. Are you excited for the show? Let us know in the quemments below!

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9 comments

  • Lame. And all that nonsense about “Legolas needs lessons” – pleease! This guy holds a kid’s bow that never will match Legolas’ bow and actually talking about Bloom? Dear whatsyourname in the new comics series! FYI: Bloom was hitting the target with the arrow while riding a horse on a full speed! Try that without CGI and stunt people and you will stop talking about the people who did a great job while working on their roles. Bloom’s Legolas is epic. How your character will look on screen is still to be seen. From what I see, it’s hardly convincing so far.

  • *** SPOILER ALERT***

    Lots of easter eggs in the pilot: Deathstroke, the Executioner, Dark Arrow, The Queen, Black Canary, Albert Davis (with the Riddler), and Slingshot are all setup for future appearances. Watch carefully and hit pause on the DVR.

  • Had Green Arrow not been on nearly every episode of Smallville during the final four years of that series I might be a little more excited about this. That being said, I am looking forward to it. I just hope it doesn’t suck.

  • You could have dozens of heroes on the show, but it wouldn’t work in highlighting what makes Green Arrow work. Whenever Green Arrow is the sole hero in an “urban jungle’ setting, he becomes the outlier, the anomaly that makes the difference between life and death. You want him to stand out before introducing other heroes or bringing in other people in colorful costumes. And even then, it seems like they’re going more for a crime drama with a bow-and-arrows guy. You don’t want him to be a second banana in his own story like, say, Clark Kent became second banana to the “shout-outs” to the JSA, JLA, etc. Bring in the villains who are powerful combatants and keep the sort of Grell-inspired Green Arrow (a liberal man put in a role of being a sort of conservative big-brother vigilante) and you’ll have interesting stories.

  • I disagree with having to make it in a more realistic tone. To say that you can’t have it in the DC Universe proper because it would mess with the tone of the show is like saying you should have Green Arrow or Batman in the same universe as Superman or Green Lantern. Its silly to rationalize a show like this when the comics do it fine most of the time.

    Usually the higher power level heroes are too busy to deal with things in Star or Gotham City. (Or Starling in this case grumble grumble). Black Canary even as a metahuman is essentially a street level hero. Just because you have the canary cry doesn’t mean you’re bullet proof or unstoppable. You could have literally had dozens of heroes in this show with their powers without messing with the dark overtone.

  • I don’t think the problem is turning it too comic-booky, but rather showing what makes Green Arrow special. He’s a vigilante with bows and arrows. That makes it very hard to set in a superhero world where you have people faster than bullets, an amazonian princess, and a dark vigilante who is almost superhuman with his gadgets and athleticism.

    In order to ground GA correctly, he needs to be “Grell-ized” where you have Ollie going through his paces and dealing with dark themes. You can’t have Hal showing up and helping him solve problems every time.

  • I do agree about shows worrying about being too comic book-y, which is a slightly strange approach to take when you look at the box office takings of the Avengers. Admittedly it takes a lot of cash to do it right, but dismissing it out of hand seems rather short sighted and I can’t really imagine anyone that excited to see a version of Superman who’s a pro-wrestler or a Wonder Woman who’s a… ..hmm, another pro-wrestler?

  • Another comic book-based series that’s terrified of being too comic booky. “Ooh, I hope they throw us a bone and include Big Belly Burger!!” I’ll pass.