Ten years ago today, The CW aired the first episode of a show that would lead to a universe… Arrow.
It had been almost a year and a half since Smallville had left the TV landscape, and while there was a lot of hype around Arrow, surely no one could have predicted that it would lead to several spin-offs, and spin-offs of spin-offs, and eventually a full-blown Crisis! Originally, people came for the action, stunts and Stephen Amell’s abs; once they got hooked, they remained hooked for several years. The fandom could argue — but what better indication is there that fans care and are invested, than if they take such strong stances on things? Quickly, people latched on to their favorite characters and actors: David Ramsey as John Diggle. Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance. Susanna Thompson as Moira Queen. Paul Blackthorne as Quentin Lance. Colin Donnell as Tommy Merlyn. Willa Holland as Thea Queen. Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak, whose “one-day” appearance may have changed the course of the series forever and added a much-needed humor to the proceedings. Other iconic characters such as John Barrowman’s Malcolm Merlyn, Manu Bennett’s Slade and Colton Haynes’ Roy Harper also extended the show into the DC Universe in those early years, and later, new characters populated the world and became fan favorites in themselves.
There are so many memories that I personally have of the time Arrow was on that I will never forget. Those first Comic-Con press rooms, where I totally asked Marc Guggenheim if Sara Lance might still be alive since we never saw a body. Going to the DC Comics the day the show premiered and having a CW photographer tell me “no” when I dared him to take a picture of Stephen Amell in front of Justin Hartley’s Green Arrow costume. The coming of the first Canary as played by Caity Lotz. Seeing episodes written by people whose comics I loved, including Guggenheim and Geoff Johns. Driving to Beverly Hills for press tour and getting a text that Barry Allen – The Flash! – was coming to Arrow in Season 2. Being at a screening and seeing “Seeing Red” with a group of journalists and we were all in shock and tears after seeing what happened to… well, you know who if you watched the show. Visiting the set multiple times. Tweeting about the “Olicity fern” while tipsy from a shot Emily Bett Rickards herself sent over. Getting photobombed by Willa Holland at a party. The Arrow 100th episode party and carpet. Fun interviews. Meeting John Barrowman, whose work I had loved since the first time I saw Captain Jack Harkness (and honestly earlier, too, when I watched a short-lived show called Titans that was not about DC Comics). Getting spoiled about the true identity of Prometheus in Season 5 by accident and having to keep that secret for about five months before it was revealed on the show, and then later, making constant jokes about Tommy Merlyn being the Prometheus of Earth-X, not knowing that was actually what was going to happen. WB Comic-Con parties. PaleyFest press lines. Interacting with James Bamford, who became one of the show’s best directors, where you knew that if he did it, it would be an exciting one. The kindness and appreciation from Stephen Amell, who was always in my corner, and who always probably got amusement when he’d ask what I thought would happen and I’d be completely wrong. There are so many things I’m appreciative of, and so many people I’d like to thank, so imagine those thanks here in this paragraph.
And it all came back to Smallville, too, as Arrow sprung forth a universe – or really, a multiverse – that brought Tom Welling and Erica Durance back for Crisis on Infinite Earths. Before the Arrowverse happened, once a version of a franchise was over, it was over, and while those actors might show up as other characters, it was mostly unheard of to see them reprising their classic roles (Noel Neill notwithstanding). Now, that’s a thing that’s happened not just in the Arrowverse but in other mediums as well, where we can have, say, Tom Holland as the current Spider-Man and then Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield also swinging by.
Arrow surely also had this success because Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, Beth Schwartz, and the other producers had the support of the now-outgoing President of The CW, Mark Pedowitz. His predecessor seemed to want to kill all genre and comic book type material, whereas Pedowitz saw the value and believed in his creative teams.
It’s truly amazing when you look back and think about what Arrow did. If one were to add up all of the episodes of shows that sprung from it, I’m sure we’d be at over 500 by now. And now that the door has opened and this world still continues with other still-ongoing shows, I’m pretty confident we’ll see Stephen Amell suit up in green again someday… and GreenArrowTV will still exist to write about it. This show did not fail this city.