Geoff Johns is the Chief Creative Officer of DC Entertainment, and while he is involved in many aspects of the direction of the characters in various media, he also is quite a prolific writer, currently tackling DC’s Justice League, Aquaman, and Green Lantern titles, to name a few. He’s also lent his writing talent to two DC-related live action television productions… first with four episodes of Smallville, and now, with two episodes of Arrow, including the episode we see tonight, which is titled “Dead To Rights.”
We were able to speak with Mr. Johns earlier this week about this week’s show and managed to get some teasers from him as well. Some of his answers have to be saved for AFTER the show airs on the West Coast tonight, because they’re spoilery… but for now, here’s what Geoff had to say about “Dead To Rights,” which airs at 8PM (ET) on The CW. We are presenting this in a Q&A format; our questions to Mr. Johns are in bold and his answers are not. Enjoy:
What was it that interested you to take the “Dead To Rights” episode writing assignment?
Greg Berlanti called me and he said “hey, we’ve got an episode coming up. Love you to write it.” He gave me a little bit about where we were and what it was going to be about, and he said Glen Winter was going to direct it. He knows that I love working with Glen Winter. I had worked with him on Smallville doing “Legion” and “Absolute Justice.” I absolutely adore working with Glen. I think he’s a terrific director; an amazing director, and I knew working with him I could write an emotionally-charged, action-driven story that Glen would just kick ass on.
I love the show, and I love working with the guys, so it’s a pleasure and an honor to be able to work on it. This was just the best of all worlds. I was very flattered, and again, grateful that I got to team up with everyone and Glen again.
How would you describe the relationship between Tommy Merlyn (played by Colin Donnell) and his father (Malcolm, played by John Barrowman) at this point of the series?
Strained at best. Obviously there’s been a lot of history, and you learn a lot more about the history and why it’s so strained. It’s not just because Malcolm cut Tommy off from his money; his gravy train. It’s a lot more complicated and deep-rooted than that, and this episode explores a lot of that, and forces the characters to address it, and I think the characters are better for it. Their relationship certainly takes a turn.
In the episode you also get to write Arrow’s version of Slade Wilson. Is there anything different in how you would handle him on TV compared to how you’d write him in DC Comics?
Well, he’s at a different point in his life, right? He still has both eyes to start with.
I think Slade doesn’t really know who Oliver is. I think he likes this kid. I think the kid’s trying. Despite Slade saying “hey, forget it,” Oliver keeps trying, and I think that’s really great, but Slade’s at a different point in his life, just like Oliver is, so you’re going to approach it differently than you would in a comic book. As much as I love writing Deathstroke in the comics, guns and swords and all.
It still felt like the same character, when watching.
The DNA of the characters have to exist in whatever form they are, whenever they are, you’re always going to see an imprint of that character on there, whether it’s a story about Deathstroke before he lost his eye, or it’s a story about Deathstroke on his very last mission before he dies. No matter what he’s been through or how he acts, you’re still going to see a little bit of the same Deathstroke in there.
Deadshot has some new hardware this time around. Can you talk about that, and might we ever see him with his silver mask from the comics?
I always say “never say never” about costumes and things like that, because you never know. We saw Booster Gold in full-on gold and blue armor, eventually, in Smallville, but for Deadshot, it’s funny. Andrew [Kreisberg] and I talked a lot about Deadshot. It was never the intention to leave him dead. It was [planned] to make it ambiguous. He looks dead, that first time we see him with that arrow through his eye, but the plan was always to bring him back.
Creating that scope, we looked at a lot of different versions of Deadshot. Andrew – I think it was Andrew and I were talking, and came up with the idea of how we’d make the scope actually something he needs, and something he uses.
Is Moira conflicted about sending someone to kill Malcolm Merlyn like that? She’s really swimming with sharks now.
She is, and unfortunately, every bad decision she makes, she makes another one to try and cover it up.
Is there any possibility that Dinah Lance (Laurel’s mother) shares any background with her comic book equivalent? [In the comics, at least before the New 52 program began, Dinah Drake Lance was the first Black Canary of the 1940’s.]
There is a possibility, yes, but you’ll have to keep watching.
Is it easier to write scenes in the “Arrow lair” now that Felicity is a part of the gang?
I wouldn’t say easier; I’d definitely say it’s more fun to be in that “cave” now. I think Emily [Bett Rickards] brings such a wonderful voice to it. She’s a different character from everyone else in that show, and her and Diggle have a really cool relationship. But there’s much to her than what you see, than funny lines and tech savvy skills, and the more we get into who Felicity Smoak really is and what she’s all about and why she’s doing this, I think you guys will be really surprised.
Can you tease what element of the DC Universe that you might want to bring to Arrow next?
I can’t. We’ll have to talk next year about it, I’m sorry. But you know what? There’s already discussions going on about it. It’d be a lot of fun. I’d love to be working on the show when I can. Working with Greg Berlanti and Andrew and Marc [Guggenheim] and the rest of the team has just been a joy, and the cast is fantastic. The production team up there is fantastic. The network… everybody’s so great. It’s a pleasure to do it, and I feel, again, very grateful.
There is now a new creative team on the Green Arrow series from DC Comics, and Green Arrow shows up in the first issue of the new Justice League Of America series very briefly. Is now a good time for new readers to jump on to the comics?
Oh, yeah. Jeff Lemire’s first issue is Green Arrow #17. It’s awesome. Jeff Lemire is a fantastic writer; one of the best writers in comics. He’s just knocked it out of the park, and his plans for Green Arrow which I know are terrific. #17, which just came out, is a very easy comic to jump on.
There’s also the Arrow comic based on the show that the crew puts out.
How would sell “Dead To Rights” to someone who may not have tuned in to the show in a while?
I’d say that you’re going to get more emotionally charged reveals and action in this episode than you have in a while, but also, it’s going to clearly spell out where the characters are going. From here on out, it’s a straight run to the season finale.
Our thanks to Geoff Johns for taking the time out of his very busy schedule to talk to us. Don’t miss Arrow on The CW tonight at 8PM (ET!) Here are some more extras related to the episode that you might enjoy:
Arrow Forum – Episode Forum – Countdown/LIVE Discussion Thread – Season 1 Cast Gallery – Episodic Image Gallery – Episode Description – Arrow Spoilers – Interviews – Trailers & Clips – Promo Screencaps – Preview Clip Screencaps – GreenArrowTV