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While Smallville spent 10 seasons working diligently but ultimately abandoning their “no tights, no flight” rule of thumb for the Superman origin story, the CW’s latest stab at a DC Comics superhero, Arrow, won’t make that mistake as the series has one simple rule of thumb.
“Green Arrow is one of the more grounded superheroes. In comic book terms, we call him the street-level superheroes,” executive producer Marc Guggenheim says of the character who first appeared in DC’s More Fun Comics #73 in 1941. “Unlike Superman or Green Lantern or the Flash, he has no superpowers. He’s a lot more like Batman, he’s you and me who’s just put through this crucible and ends up on the other side as someone with heightened skills rather than powers.”
The CW adaptation stars Stephen Amell (Private Practice) as Oliver Queen/Arrow, a hooded vigilante who returns home to Starling City five years after being presumed dead from a boating crash to carry out revenge upon the people who have transformed his hometown from the sprawling city it once was.
Arrow producers Guggenheim, Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg — themselves masters in the genre with credits including No Ordinary Family, Green Lantern and The Vampire Diaries — say the decision makes Oliver’s story more relatable for an audience broader than its likely fanboy base.
“We don’t really think of it like a superhero show, we think of it more like a crime thriller,” Guggenheim says. “There’s a lot of genre stuff for the genre fans but there’s a lot of humor, emotion and heart and really cool crime procedural stuff for the people who are not comic book fans. Hopefully it appeals to everybody while still maintaining a specific voice.”
The series is considered considerably darker than Smallville, thus eliminating the CW’s former Green Arrow, Justin Hartley, from taking over the role he portrayed on the series that ended its 10-season run last year. Arrow‘s hero — whose story will untold both in present day Starling City and via flashbacks to the island on which he was marooned — will, however, have more emotional commonalities with other superheroes.
“A lot of these heroes are lost, lonely people and for a TV audience, you welcome them in week after week and be a little less lonely in return for saving our lives,” Kreisberg says. “That’s one of the things about Oliver: He is a little lost and he’s damaged. Wanting to see how it plays out week after week about how his emotional state affects his ability to right the wrongs of the city and the toll it’s taken on him. He’s someone who has lost a lot. Oliver is so winning, you’re going to want the best for him.”
And while the series is populated with other, lesser-known faces from the DC Comics universe, Arrow will still tell the fundamental and timeless superhero story.
“There’s something about going back to our childhood — we live in a world where things are very gray and we try and deal with some of the grayness on our show but in these shows and movies, they really are big bold sides to chose from with who’s evil and who’s not,” Berlanti says.
Arrow premieres Wednesday at 8 p.m. on the CW. Will you watch? Hit the comments with your thoughts.
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