Their aim is true
Arrow year three is upon us. Joseph McCabe draws his bow…
It’s fitting that the saga of the world’s greatest marksman hit its targets last season. Breathtaking action? Bullseye. Sexual tension? Bullseye. Scope, spectacle, and heartstopping suspense? Bullseye, bullseye... bullseye! But even after defeating his deadliest opponent ever in Slade Wilson ( aka Deathstroke) and ridding Starling City of his super- powered army, can even Oliver Queen ( played once more by the laser- focused Stephen Amell) triumph against Ra’s al Ghul, arguably the most diabolical mastermind in the entire DC Universe? A villain who, time and again, has outwitted even the Caped Crusader himself ?
arrow the third
“It’s all about identity,” says showrunner Marc Guggenheim of the emerald archer’s third season. “Is it Oliver or is it the Arrow? Can he be both? Normally our theme is Oliver- centric, and that’s certainly true again, but this year what’s cool is that theme also resonates with all the other characters. Laurel – ‘ Am I Laurel or am I my sister?’ Thea – ‘ Am I Thea Queen or am I Thea Merlyn?’ Dig – ‘ Am I a crimefighter or am I a father?’ Felicity – ‘ Am I Oliver’s crush object or do I have my own identity outside of him?’ Everyone’s got their own little question of identity and dilemma this year. It’s cool to have a theme that we actually look at through all of our characters.” Amidst that duality, however, lies a legendary
“When a vigilante kills, they’re doing bad things for a righteous purpose”
Big Bad ( played by actor Matt Nable) with an agenda he believes is more noble than that of Starling ’s champion.
“Evil people don’t think that they’re evil,” explains Guggenheim. “They think they’re doing the right thing. [ Ra’s al Ghul] will have a similar self- righteous agenda. Those characters are just more interesting, and it’s more realistic. Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, all these jerks – they didn’t think they were jerks. When you have a vigilante character killing people, that’s a character who is doing bad things for a righteous purpose. You’ve got to contrast them with a bad guy also doing bad things for a righteous purpose, and force the audience to say, ‘ Why is this guy a good guy, and why is this guy a bad guy?’”
Expect Oliver’s sister Thea ( Willa Holland) to take her own journey between good and evil this year. When we left the former debutante, she’d abandoned both her brother Oliver and boyfriend Roy ( Colton Haynes), and accepted the protection of Malcolm Merlyn ( John Barrowman), whom she’d just learned was her birth father.
“One of the things we really wanted to bring into season three that was present in season one, but wasn’t really part of season two, was the element of mystery. Season one had a lot of mystery to it. There was The Undertaking, there was The Well- Dressed Man, who we revealed was John Barrowman. There was a conspiracy, and there was a sense of cloakand- dagger that season two – because it was more of a straight- up revenge story – didn’t have. One of the things that we decided at the beginning of season three is to re- inject that element into the show. John’s character Malcolm Merlyn allows us to do that because he’s a mysterious figure, but also [ because] his agenda is mysterious. We ended season two, between him and Thea, on this note of ‘ Ooh, what’s going to happen next?’ We’re actually going to show you the remainder of that scene in the limo, and what she said to him, and what he said to her after they basically looked at each other and we cut out. A big part of the fun of season three is the mystery of ‘ Where is Malcolm? What is Malcolm up to?’ That will evolve and roll out slowly over the course of at least the first ten episodes.
“John Barrowman’s a series regular and he will be in at least 18 episodes this year. So he’s part of the cast now, officially. Our goal is to surprise you. He’s not the Big Bad of season three. We’re not going to end season three with a big fight between Malcolm and Oliver because we’ve done that already. So the fun of season three and Malcolm’s presence in it is the unexpected ways that he is injected into the story.”
Merlyn’s relationship with Thea is just one example of what Guggenheim’s fellow exec Andrew Kreisberg tells SFX will be a staple recurring theme of season three – “new combinations of characters that haven’t previously been explored.
“There’s also opportunities for characters who hadn’t really gotten an opportunity to shine yet to really find themselves this year,” continues Kreisberg. “Especially Laurel and Thea. Katie [ Cassidy] and Willa have been two of our strongest players and we haven’t always figured out a successful way to present their characters. This season it’s going to be their year. It’s always about Oliver, and Oliver’s certainly at the forefront, but there’s definitely room in this show to have some of the other characters, whether it be Dig or Felicity or Laurel or Malcolm, step forward and command an entire episode on their own.”
Indeed the backstory of Oliver’s Girl Friday Felicity will at long last be revealed in the season’s fifth episode (“The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak”), and the pair’s relationship will be defined.
“They’ve grown in closeness through the years,” admits Guggenheim. “There’s been these intervening months that have happened between the finale and the first episode. We show that there’s almost a domestic quality to their lives and how they’ve grown together.”
Felicity’s feelings for Oliver will grow increasingly complicated with the introduction of another DC mainstay: Ray
Palmer. Better known as The Atom, he’s played by Superman Returns lead Brandon Routh, and is set to put the cat amongst the pigeons at Queen Industries this season.
“Brandon Routh is great,” says executive producer Greg Berlanti ( who developed Arrow along with Guggenheim and Kreisberg). “He’s so tall and strapping and charming, and he can go toe- to- toe with Oliver. We said we had John Wayne with Oliver, and we wanted Cary Grant. Brandon has that quality.”
With the introduction of the Atom’s alter ego, Arrow, explains Kreisberg, will further widen its embrace of the DC Universe’s more fantastic elements. “That was why we included the Mirakuru serum last season. We joked that it was our ‘ gateway superpower.’ That if you could accept that much of a superpower then the Flash wouldn’t be too much for you to handle. But the Arrowverse, which includes the Flash, is definitely changing, and it’s a world in which people are going to accept that things that were thought to be fantastical – whether it’s the Flash or whatever Ray Palmer’s up to this season – they’re going to realise they’re living in a world where those things are possible.
“All that being said,” adds Kreisberg, “the show is called Arrow and it’s about Oliver Queen, and as much as fantastical characters pop in and out of his life, it’s still about a man trying to save his city.”
all a- quiver
In addition to newcomers like Palmer and Ra’s al Ghul, Arrow fans will be treated to returning faves like Roy Harper ( who finally dons a red suit like that of his comic- book counterpart), the Flash ( yes, a crossover with his new show is in the works), and Sara Lance ( actress Caity Lotz), aka The Black Canary.
“We love Caity and she’s amazing,” says Guggenheim. “She really was such a big part of season two that we absolutely had to bring her back for season three. We made a recurring deal for three episodes, but we’ve got ideas and certainly a need beyond three. So we’re gonna see her in a recurring role the way John Barrowman was recurring in season two... One of the things we want to do that’s been on our bucket list since last year is we want to do a flashback story that basically takes Sarah from the shores of Lian Yu after the Amazo went down to Nanda Parbat and becoming a member of the League of Assassins. And explain how she meets Nyssa [ al Ghul] and how that relationship developed. All that is something we are absolutely determined to do. We just don’t know what episode it’s gonna go in yet.”
With the determination Arrow is showcasing on both sides of the camera, Berlanti assures SFX that the show will be truer than ever to its comic- book roots. “The fun for me is the action- adventure element. Every week is this larger- than- life kind of action- adventure that touches down for human moments. We really do reference the comic books in that way too. They just lend themselves, structurally and tonally, to what network TV has
Leather. Hard wearing and hard to wear.
The barbell turned invisible mid- lift.
Roy finally dons the costume. Fetching, eh?
Never insult a man’s hat in public.
“Look at that lining! Lovely.”
Queen Industries dress code: saucy.