If you’ve seen the “Sizzle Reel” for Season 2 of Arrow, which premiered Saturday at the Comic-Con International in San Diego, you saw a major character from the Green Arrow mythos — the Black Canary — yet, it didn’t appear to be Katie Cassidy’s character of Dinah Laurel Lance in the fishnets. What gives? We spoke with the show’s executive producers, Andrew Kreisberg and Marc Guggenheim, about why changing expectations and not giving the audience exactly what they expect is a good thing — first going back to what we saw in Season 1, when one of Green Arrow’s expected villains, Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman), appeared to meet his maker, so soon in the series’ run.
“In general, we did a lot of things throughout the whole first season, we did a lot of things that you would never think we would do. And you would never think we would do it as soon as we did it. That’s our methodology. ‘Let’s surprise the audience at every turn’,” Guggenheim explained in a press room Q&A for the show. “I think no one expected us to kill off Tommy. So, some things are then twisted a little, and you can undo certain things… other things just exist as their own standalone surprises,” he said.
“We also wanted Season 1 to feel like a complete meal,” Kreisberg added. “We’re all very taken with the way Joss Whedon ran Buffy and Angel, where those shows had a Big Bad for the season, and it came to a conclusion, so that while there’s a lot of carry-over from Season 1 into Season 2, it doesn’t feel like a new show, and we’re continuing the threads, Season 2 has its own feel, its own villains, and its own overall structure.”
In keeping with the theme of evolving between seasons, fans can expect Oliver Queen to evolve himself more as the series progresses into its second year. “This season is really about Oliver’s evolution from being The Arrow to being the Green Arrow,” Kreisberg told us. “He really sets out in Episode 201 saying ‘I don’t want to be the vigilante anymore. I don’t want to be called The Hood. If I’m going to do this, it needs to be about something more than just crossing names off a list. I realize now I need to be a hero,’ which is something he was constantly struggling with last season, and this season he’s really going to set that out as his main course, and then discover that it’s not as easy as it seems,” he explained.
While a series like Smallville took ten years for Tom Welling’s Clark Kent to [not really] put on a suit, Arrow’s producers still want the characters and the story to evolve at a breakneck pace. “We always said we would just burn through story. We wouldn’t be precious and say ‘we’re saving this character, this moment for Season 5.’ If we have the idea and we’re going to do it, let’s do it now. We’ll solve Season 5 when we get to Season 5,” Guggenheim said. Among those “big moments” or characters coming for Season 2? The Black Canary, who will be played by actress Caity Lotz.
“Caity is a tremendously talented actress that we’re all really excited about adding to our ensemble,” Andrew Kreisberg said, before explaining that this is “the beginning of the Black Canary story.” Like many elements of Season 1, it’s another example of giving us not quite exactly what we’d expect. “It’s something that we’ve done all of last season. The first Green Arrow that we met wasn’t Oliver. If you think about it, on the island, it was Yao Fei. The first Deathstroke that we met wasn’t Slade Wilson. The first Merlyn that we met turned out to not be the actual Merlyn the Archer. So, all we’re really doing with Caity’s character is really beginning the story of the Black Canary, in a way that I think people might not be expecting based on the way the comic books go. There’s been a method to our madness and it seems to have pleased people so far, and we hope people continue to go on the ride with us, because it’s a great storyline, there are great twists to it, and it’s going to have a tremendous impact on Katie Cassidy’s character this season,” Kreisberg explained.
One journalist asked Marc Guggenheim if there was a pressure to stick to a certain Green Arrow canon, and he responded that there isn’t as much pressure with Green Arrow. “We’ve always said, actually, if this was Batman or Superman with a very specific canon… with Superman, Clark Kent needs to work at the Daily Planet. Green Arrow doesn’t have a canon that’s quite as precious. We already came out the gate and gave him a sister. We made his mother alive and not dead. We’ve always sort of done that with this character, and we’ve always had the philosophy that this character could allow it in a way that Batman and Superman can’t sustain that. So, we’re not particularly worried. Also, hopefully, we’ve earned some goodwill,” he said.
“If you look at The Dark Knight Rises, John Blake is not a name that anybody had ever heard of, and now he’s Robin,” Andrew added. “Part of the fun of that was, if he had been named Officer Dick Grayson, everyone who was a comic book fan would have been sitting there going ‘oh, okay. So he’s going to be Robin,’ and it would ruin the surprise. For us, there’s always two sets of fans for the show. There’s the people who don’t read the comics, who you have to entertain or surprise by the twists and the turns anyway, but we also feel an obligation to surprise the people who do know the stuff, which is why we had the twist with Merlyn. Which is why we had Yao Fei. That is why as soon as everyone saw Deathstroke, they just assumed it was Slade Wilson, so it was a fun surprise when you met Slade Wilson and he’s a good guy, and he’s a hero.”
“We grew up comic book fans. We live and breathe this stuff,” Kreisberg assured. These are the things that give us chills and make us surprised, and hopefully people will see that seeing some of these changes to the canon, they’re not being made for arbitrary reasons; they’re being made to keep the storyline fresh and exciting, and give everybody, essentially, what they desire.”
Arrow Season 2 premieres October 9 on The CW.