Marc Guggenheim on the valuable lesson Arrow learned from Star Trek III

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Jan 6, 2015, 11:07 AM EST

The CW’s Arrow turned out to be one of the unlikeliest awesome shows on television, and we apparently owe a major debt to Star Trek III for making it happen.

Marc Guggenheim, one of the minds behind Arrow, participated in what was essentially a roundtable interview with Agent Carter producers Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas. Yeah, that’s right, a meeting of the minds between DC and Marvel. To make things even more interesting, Butters is Guggenheim’s wife. It’s a super-fun read.

The interview is wide-ranging, touching on everything from which DC character Guggenheim would most like to bring onto Arrow (Batman, duh) to Agent Carter’s future (they hope for a second season) and the odds of an Arrow/Supergirl crossover ("It's possible"). But, some of the most interesting stuff came out when Guggenheim started talking about what it's like to work in DC’s ecosystem, as opposed to Marvel’s finely tuned system.

Not surprisingly, it’s a whole different world. Whereas Marvel is essentially managed by a tightly run braintrust, Guggenheim and his team get a lot more freedom to play in DC’s sandbox. He walked us through the workflow to deal with DC, and revealed that he essentially gets to decide which storylines and characters to keep under wraps — and that’s where Star Trek III comes into play. 

When the Arrow team is trying to decide what to keep secret, and what to reveal, they turn to an old rule of thumb that originated with the third Star Trek sequel. With the show in its third season and rocking along, it seems to be working. Check out some choice excerpts below:

“DC is actually pretty chill. I will say [Arrow and Flash showrunner] Andrew Kreisberg and I tend to be the gatekeepers in terms of what's a secret or trying to keep spoilers from leaking out. DC never really dictates stuff to us. We're self-policing, and we always apply a story that I had heard about Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Spoiler alert: In Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, the Enterprise was blown up, and when Paramount cut the trailer, that scene was in the trailer. [Producer] Harve Bennett and [director-star] Leonard Nimoy went to Sherry Lansing — the head of Paramount at the time — saying, ‘That's a huge moment for us, we don't want that in the trailer.’ And Lansing replied, ‘Well, do you want people to be surprised or do you want them to go to the movie?’ We use that as a barometer [on Arrow and Flash]. We're not militant but there are certain things that are absolutely secret. There was a pilot printed on red paper, and I read everything on my iPad and have a scanner on my desk for these purposes. I scanned in the script and red paper script scans in perfectly fine…

We have these semi-regular meetings where throughout the season we'll take them through the next chunks of episodes and say, "These are the big 10 pulls, here are the big moves that we're making." We plan the season out all in advance, so at the beginning of the season they know where the midseason finale is going to be, who's going to die and who's going to become a superhero. That's usually when we discuss which characters from the DC universe we want to bring in and which ones we can bring in. Obviously DC has a lot of different projects both in TV and film and we want to make sure that we're not stealing characters slotted for other avenues. Episode by episode, they're on all the studio notes calls and the calls for the cut. The only time we actually get notes are in the script stage. They actually produce a handy little document for us that is usually no more than two pages long with notes and thoughts. It's very democratic and offered for our consideration. We always say we'll take a good note from anywhere, and usually their notes are really quite good.”

The third season of Arrow resumes Jan. 21 on The CW. Not surprisingly, Guggenheim and company have managed to keep a lot of those details under wraps. Well played.

(Via The Hollywood Reporter)