Another classic DC character gets his televisual due.
In 1941, DC Comics introduced the Mort Weisinger and George Papp superhero creation Green Arrow. Dressed a bit like Robin Hood, Green Arrow’s skill set was precision-point archery, which set him apart from his counterparts. He also had a secret identity, known as Oliver Queen, who was yet another billionaire using his money to fight crime as a costumed vigilante.
The new CW series Arrow (played by Stephen Amell) finds our hero leading a self-centered life as a spoiled billionaire who loses his father and others in a terrible boat crash at sea. He survives on a remote island, learning super-heroic skills before being rescued and acclimating to life in the big city — and realizing that fighting crime to make his father proud is his new calling.
“We really wanted to do something grounded, dark and emotional,” says executive producer Andrew Kreisberg, who also wrote the pilot episode with Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim. Kreisberg also writes the “Green Arrow/Black Canary” comic, which brings someone intimately involved with the Arrow mythology into the TV fold. “What’s so exciting to us is seeing characters get reinvented over and again,” explains Kreisberg. “I was a fan of the Adam West Batman, of Tim Burton’s Batman and of Christopher Nolan’s Batman. They’re all valid interpretations of the stories in the same way that Justin Hartley and the Smallville Green Arrow was fun and smart. Smallville was the first time someone had seen a live-action Green Arrow. As a fan, that was exciting and what we’re doing is a new take on the character.”
Among the elements being used as a starting point for the series are the “Green Arrow: Year One” comics from 2007, which dealt with the idea that “Oliver wasn’t just alone on the island — he went on adventures and that shaped the person he became. However, in the comics, Oliver is slightly more pithy and charming and a bit of a quipster, and our Oliver is more reserved, stoic and damaged. He only plays the part of the wealthy playboy when it serves his purpose, but it’s not who he is.”
The key for a TV series based on a comic is to also find an engaging fresh face to be your hero so he can grow with the audience over the series’ run. Kreisberg says Amell fit the bill. “Stephen was the first person who auditioned for us,” he says. “Everyone knew he was the guy — he physically embodied the part and was a tremendously talented actor. In the show, he’s playing four different parts. There’s Oliver Queen who was fooling around with his sister’s girlfriend with not a care in the world; there’s Oliver Queen who survived the shipwreck and slowly losing his innocence on the island; [there’s also] the damaged Oliver returning five years later, playing the wealthy fun loving playboy the damaged Oliver is pretending to be; and [finally, there’s] Green Arrow. At any given moment, Stephen is playing a different character. It was difficult and we thought it was going to be incredibly difficult to find the right person for the role and in he walked right through the door.”