Ever since Christopher Nolan successfully added a new amendment to the Constitution mandating that superhero stories must be gritty and realistic, the promise of a Green Arrow series became much less ridiculous. Gone is the leather vest-wearing himbo of Smallville (Justin Hartley looks better in scrubs anyway) and in his stead arrives brooding Stephen Amell as the star of The CW's most anticipated new series, Arrow. Based on the pilot, the titular Arrow's origins have taken on a Count of Monte Cristo meets The Punisher vibe with an edge that all but makes one forget it's the story of a man who fights crime with a bow and arrow.
Not that bows and arrows are safe by any means. "Working with a bow and arrow is literally one of the most dangerous things you can do on-set. At least with guns you can use blanks," Amell explained before describing his intense archery training. But then he let a tidbit spill: "A lot of times when you're firing an arrow on screen, it's CGI. [To Executive Producer Greg Berlanti:] Am I allowed to say that?"
The action-oriented show is a much different beast than the other series on Berlanti's resume thus far. Shows like Dawson's Creek, Brothers & Sisters, Jack and Bobby... very few had the thrills and stunts that Arrow promises to have. "It stays very consistently athletic. There's a lot of action on the show," Berlanti explained nervously. "As a producer it's a little frightening when your star does a quarter of his stunts, because there's no second string. But it's one of the things that makes this show incredibly unique."
All producers agreed that the search for Green Arrow himself was easy: Amell auditioned first and as far as everyone was concerned, that was all they needed to see. Producer Andrew Kreisberg reminisced, "After we met Stephen and he auditioned, everyone else paled by comparison. Not just physically, but talent-wise—emotionally—he was always going to be it for us."
Though Arrow remains tonally rooted in reality, Executive Producer Marc Guggenheim assures longtime fans of the comics that they have reason to be excited: "We're taking a lot of inspiration from the comics, specifically Green Arrow: Year One and Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters." Though he readily admits the show does indeed depart from the comics in a few crucial ways: "We've already taken some liberties with the comics. But Green Arrow has an origin that's subject to a lot of interpretation, it's been reinterpreted a lot over the years." However, the writers room will make an effort to keep the character's roots in mind: "We always start with the comic as our source of inspiration."
For those wondering, Arrow promises to be mostly a serial with touch of procedural. In the pilot Arrow consults a list of people who need to be taken out, but as Guggenehim explains, that's not all there'll be to Arrow's M.O. "While he has this list and the list is the jumping off point for stories, the bad guys of the week as it were are not always the same, circumstances are not always the same." So, rather than a pure revenge story, the creators are hoping to lead our hero into purer endeavors. "Part of Oliver's evolution as a hero is moving from this mission of revenge to a mission of redemption. And that means moving off of the list and starting to help people in stopping crimes. Moving toward a broader agenda of 'I have to save this city.'"
When a member of the press pointed out that Green Arrow in the comics is one of the more well-known liberals in the DC lineup, the producers did not shy away from affirming that some of that sentiment will make its way onto the show, particularly in Oliver's more Robin Hood-esque targeting of the very wealthy. "There are some echoes of Occupy Wall Street in the show," Executive Producer Andrew Kreisberg suggests.
But Arrow isn't going to be some kind of poster boy for the 99%. As Guggenheim explains, "We're exploring the nature of vigilantism." But it won't necessarily be an exercise in bloodthirst: "One of the things you'll see in the early episodes is, Arrow always gives the bad guy of the week the opportunity to do the right thing. When he kills it's killing for necessity. It's not random violence. He'll constantly have characters entering the universe questioning those decisions. We'll deal with those questions head-on."
For his part, nobody's as big a fan of the character than Amell. The guy completely lights up when talking about how thoroughly energizing the role is. "When I looked at the pilot I saw four different roles," Amell says in regard to Oliver's extremely split nature told in both present tense and flashbacks. "It's a really fun exercise, it keeps me on my toes... The wigs make it easier." But one thing will ground Arrow more than the rest: He'll be one messed-up dude. "He has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is a serious subject. With all this talk of supervillains and adversaries... The most imminent danger to Oliver is, I think, himself."
Arrow premieres Wednesday, October 10 at 8 pm on The CW.