The CW's Arrow can't leap tall buildings, isn't part spider, and doesn't have the flashy, super-cool toys like the Batman. In fact, when it comes to this Oliver Queen, the word "superhero" doesn't really apply, said co-creator and executive producer Andrew Kreisberg about his new series, Arrow, which premieres tonight at 8 p.m.
"We definitely took the Christopher Nolan approach in what he did with Batman in the Dark Knight trilogy," said Kreisberg, in an exclusive interview with Blastr. "In the same way that Mr. Freeze and Clayface don't fit into Christopher Nolan's conception of Batman and all of the villains were grounded and human and didn't have superpowers. On our show, it'll be the same."
Arrow reboots the comic book superhero, the Green Arrow. In this series, when playboy billionaire Oliver Queen's ship is sunk during a terrible storm that takes the lives of several people, including his father, he's shipwrecked alone a deserted island for five years. After being rescued, he returns to Starling City and keeps his rich playboy facade to hide his secret identity as a vigilante known as Arrow. While Oliver tries to reconnect with his family and friends, he uses the Arrow and the physical abilities he developed to survive on the island, to right the wrongs of his family and fight the ills of society in an attempt to restore Starling City to its former glory. The series comes from Kreisberg, Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim, and stars Stephen Amell as the Arrow, Susanna Thompson, Paul Blackthorne, Katie Cassidy and John Barrowman.
"Stephen Amell is genetically engineered to play Oliver Queen," said Kreisberg. "It's a hard part, because he's not just playing the hero. There's really four characters that he's playing."
With the help of flashbacks, he plays his former rich playboy self, "the one who just lived to have fun and party. He's playing the damaged Oliver, who's returned after five years. And then there's the playboy that he's playing in the present, which is really a character unto itself, because it's Oliver pretending to still be who he was. And then lastly there's the character of the Arrow. So in any given day, Stephen could be playing two or three different parts, and he plays them all beautifully," he said.
Each episode will have flashbacks about what happened to Oliver on the island, said Kreisberg. "So by the end of the series, you'll get to see every moment that helped turn him into the warrior that you see in the pilot."
Kreisberg, who wrote many of the Green Arrow/Black Canary comic books, found "something more grounded about him in the comic books, which is something that we strove for in our TV show. There aren't any superpowers in our show. There aren't any aliens. It takes place in the real world. It's very grounded. And I think his character lent itself well to someone existing in the real world. That's what's always been fun about Green Arrow, is his strong sense of social justice. And I think that that's certainly something in the zeitgeist right now with Occupy Wall Street and the 99-percenters and the notion of a hero. Somebody who's fighting for the little person resonates strongly in today's world," he said.
While the spirit of the Green Arrow resides strongly in Arrow, there are changes to the basic story. This Oliver Queen has a family, in that he now has a sister, and his mother is alive. "Because when you've disappeared for five years and you've come back changed, unless people knew who you were before you left, there's no one to register that you have changed. So we just wanted to give the show as much emotional context as possible," said Kreisberg.
And in an effort to keep him real, "Oliver will never refer to himself as 'the Arrow.' And the police will never say, 'Put an APB out on the Arrow.' To them, he's the vigilante, he's the guy in the hood, he's the guy who thinks he's Robin Hood. And I think, again, that helps keep it grounded. It was one of the reasons we dropped the 'green' out of the title. We didn't want people to think this was juvenile. We want people to feel like this is a real show and a smart and slightly sophisticated take on a comic book story," he said.
While there won't be any superheroes or supervillains in Arrow, you will "see plenty of people from the DC universe. We've got a lot of fun surprises for people coming up, like a lot of DC Comics characters, some of whom have been on the screen before that will be shown in a different way, or some that people have probably always wanted to see who have never gotten the chance. But this is definitively the real world."
"We say that this is not a show about a superhero. This is a show about a hero," said Kreisberg. "We think about it more like a crime thriller. When you look at a procedural show, there's always the crime of the week which is the mystery. But with our show, the mystery every week is 'Who is Oliver Queen?'"
Actually, Kreisberg admits there is one superpower that his Oliver Queen has.
"I think Oliver's superpower is that he's not afraid to die. We see him as more Jason Bourne, more Ethan Hunt than superhero. When you're not afraid to die, you can do pretty amazing things."
Here's a look at Arrow:
Arrow airs on the CW on Wednesdays at 8 p.m.
Will you watch?