Tonight, Arrow takes aim at The CW. The superhero drama is arguably the network's most anticipated new show. Monday, Blastr met with its creative team, which includes executive producers Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg, actor Stephen Amell (Oliver Queen) and DC Comics chief Geoff Johns, and the group spilled the beans about Arrow's exciting first season.
So before diving in, prepare yourself with 13 sneak peeks at Huntress, Deadshot, the mysterious John Barrowman and more.
The Royal Flush Gang are Arrow's 'most grounded villains'
The Royal Flush Gang makes its debut in episode six. According to Kreisberg, "the dynamic of the family and the iconography of the playing cards are going to be there without the supernatural bent. I think we've come up with a really clever way to portray them. ... We think it's one of the most successful attempts at alchemy that we've performed."
He continues, "The Royal Flush Gang was probably the most outlandish villains from the comics, but they turned out to be our most grounded villains. The relationship that Oliver has with King, the leader of the gang, we're really proud of it. He's played by Currie Graham [pictured above], who's a tremendously talented actor."
Oliver and Huntress are kindred spirits
"For those of you who don't know who the Huntress is, her name's Helena Bertinelli," Johns explains. "She is the daughter of a big crime boss, and she decides to take it upon herself to take her family down. ... The Huntress was chosen because of the emotional resonance she has with Oliver Queen. That's why I like all the characters in the show. They're all connected to him in some way."
"For the Huntress, they've got a very similar backstory," adds Kreisberg. "Both of their crusades were born out of pain and loss."
John Barrowman's character is no Jack Harkness
"He's a force of nature," Amell says. "Our first scene together—when I was reading the script, I actually audibly gasped. I went, 'Ooh! That's great. That's really exciting.' It's a jaw-dropper."
"What's most exciting is he's not playing Jack," Kreisberg teases. "This is a completely different character. He's just such a tremendously talented actor. It's one of the things we're the most proud of with the show."
Oliver's secret identity will be exposed—early!
"That's where we get a lot of drama. Oliver is forced to start to see his own actions through other people's eyes," Guggenheim notes. "Every story has to have an effect on Oliver. You'll start to see very early on how that person who discovers his identity starts to effect a change on Oliver, and that has ripple effects throughout the series."
"The person calls him out, which I like," Johns exclaims.
Deadshot brings some serious darkness
"Characters who are going to make the transition from the comic books to the show are the ones that have a very grounded reality," Kreisberg says. "So you won't be seeing a lot of characters who are aliens or people who have superpowers. For people like Deadshot and the Huntress, they have grounded backstories and very emotional backstories. For somebody like Deadshot, he's just a very scary villain ... that sort of malevolence is cool to see Oliver face."
Arrow will be flashback-heavy—Lost style
"[They're in] every episode. There's really two series in one. There's the flashback story at the end of the pilot. You see Oliver reach the island. Episode two picks up with [him] setting foot on the island for the first time," Kreisberg previews. "Ideally, the last flashback of the last episode of the series will be Oliver seeing the boat that rescued him in the pilot. So it will really be a loop."
Johns confesses, "It's really one of my favorite aspects of the show. The contrast between Oliver as Arrow and then Oliver on the island, 'cause it's not pretty."
Arrow does kill but also atones
"I think it's all about his motivation, and why he does the darker things," Johns declares. "It's pretty clear in the storyline, as it goes, why he crosses the line. And why crossing the line isn't something he does without being aware of it."
Kreisberg agrees, "With Oliver too, he doesn't set out to kill people. But if it has to happen, then it has to happen, but he has his code. I would definitely say it's not violence for violence's sake."
The are some influences from DC Comics New 52
"One of the things we've really enjoyed from the New 52 is Ann Nocenti's run with the heavy Asian influence. You'll start to see that seep into the show in the latter part of the season [starting in episode nine]," Guggenheim reveals. "One of the things her run brought to the comic Green Arrow that we've taken some inspiration from is the idea that China has a long and storied history of archery. ... We always try to tip our hat to the writers and artists who are influencing us. Nocenti is a name that appears in episode two very prominently.
Amell's Arrow is more substance than style
"I'm trying to play this character without ego," Amell admits. "I'm trying to not worry about looking cool. I'm trying to give a really honest portrayal. And we have a lot of scenes that are like that in the first eight episodes. It seems to be happening more and more often, and I enjoy that the most."
Oliver's sister is called Speedy. Coincidence?
Guggenheim confesses, "Part of the fun for us is dropping easter eggs and teasing you guys and teasing ourselves. As Geoff says, 'You never say never.' There's a lot of seeds that have been planted in the pilot that won't grow to fruition until year five in some cases."
Johns chimes in, "I'd also say, just because her nickname's Speedy doesn't necessarily mean it's going down a road you expect."
Laurel Lance has something to prove
"A lot of it is her father. A lot of it is having lost Sarah, her sister. Laurel's father, he's a good man. He's a good cop. He's the one honest cop in a rotten town," Kreisberg says. "When she lost her sister, she threw herself into law school and became—in a lot of ways—exactly what Oliver became. Someone who's going to stand up to fight for what's right."
Something major goes down in episode nine [the midseason finale]
"Our ninth episode is going to air on Dec. 12, and that takes us into the break over Christmas. Reading that episode ... that episode has everything that I want from the series," Amell teases ... "At the end of the episode, it's one of those things where there are just so many questions and there are so many balls in the air. I was so pumped when I read it."
Yes, Arrow does have a big bad villain
"We do have a big bad, and I think people are going to be both excited and surprised by their identity.," Kreisberg promises. "There's a couple. Well, there's big bads, there's bigger bads, there's biggest bad."
Johns hints, "There's a glimpse of one of them in the pilot, actually."
Arrow premieres tonight at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.
Will you be tuning in?