We had the opportunity to sit down with the cast and executive producers of Arrow at Comic-Con to talk about Season 3, and we’re grateful to report that there was a lot to talk about ahead of the third season of this excellent CW superhero drama. In fact, the roundtable interviews allowed us to compile a list of 31 things you might want to know about Arrow Season 3.
As you may have surmised already, this list does include varying degrees of Arrow spoilers, but it’s all information doled out to us by executive producers Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim, and cast members Stephen Amell, Willa Holland, David Ramsay and Colton Haynes, so most of what you find teases more than spoils. Regardless, consider yourself warned. If you don’t want to know anything about what’s ahead on Arrow turn back now.
One day after the show’s Comic-Con panel, The CW comic-book drama names its big bad, with executive producer Marc Guggenheim saying, “We didn’t want to over-milk it.”
Oliver Queen and Co. will be up against one of the most prolific DC villains ever: Ra’s al Ghul. The big surprise was revealed Saturday evening during DC Entertainment/Warner Bros. TV’s three-hour extravaganza, hosted by Arrow’s own Stephen Amell, in the cavernous Hall H. For the team behind Arrow, getting Ra’s al Ghul to actually appear in the Starling City universe was in the works for awhile.
“It really happened very organically in the sense that we had this notion that in episode 16 we were going to reveal that Malcolm Merlyn was trained by the League of Assassins and that’s because that’s because of the comic book. We were like, you know what we’re going to do? We’re going to get away with a little reference about a guy in Nanda Parbat who changed his life,” executive producer Marc Guggenheim tells a handful of reporters Saturday. “That was just the beginning.”
So Stephen Amell and the cast of the CW’s Arrow did not disappoint in Ballroom 20 for the show’s panel. After an eventful second season, lots of questions remained about the future of Olicity and Starling City. Here are the highlights (spoilers ahead if you’re not caught up):
• Executive producer Andrew Kreisberg admitted the beginning of season two was his biggest challenge to write because of the pressure he had put on himself and the show. However, some of Arrow‘s biggest twists—Sarah not being dead, Oliver waking up in Hong Kong—were discussed when writing the original pilot. Because season one ended on a low note with the death of Tommy, Kreisberg and the writers figured a happy ending to the second season would be the biggest surprise for fans. But don’t get too comfortable: “The minute you give your character happiness, you have to yank it away from him,” Kreisberg said, quoting Joss Whedon.
• Star Stephen Amell said that when the show premiered back in 2012, he felt as much responsibility for its success as his character does for Starling City. “I remember sitting in this ballroom [two years ago] and making a promise to the people who were here that we were going to work really hard and the show wasn’t going to suck,” he said. “It sounds simple, but that’s what drives us every day.” Then someone who didn’t want things to get too heavy yelled for him to take off his shirt. (He didn’t.)
• Willa Holland had to check with the producers about how much she could say regarding Thea’s future. Now that we know she’s Malcolm’s daughter, maybe evil lurks within her too? She said she’s been hitting the gym a bit and hinted that Thea would return a different person, but couldn’t elaborate. The producers did say that they will flash back to the season-two scene where Willa entered a limo with Malcolm and show how that played out.
• John Barrowman will return as a series regular in season three as Malcolm Merlyn, having spent some time on Doctor Who—as Kreisberg put it, sometimes “you have to go away a little bit so you can come back better.” Because of his work schedule, Barrowman hasn’t finished reading the third season, but he says he finished the entire DC Comics Encyclopedia that he keeps on his bedside table.
• The producers already announced that Brandon Routh would join Arrow this season as The Atom.”We were looking to add a lighter hero, someone a little more fun, a little bit Superman—so we got Superman.” Routh’s character will also start a love triangle with Oliver and Felicity.
• Also already announced was the episode-eight crossover of The Flash and Arrow, and when asked which actor from the former he most wants to work with, Amell answered Jesse L. Martin—apparently forgetting that his cousin, Robbie Amell, is on the show. As for other teases, Colin Donnell will return for a flashback in episode two of an unknown encounter between Oliver and Tommy. Just don’t expect more island flashbacks to what Amell described as the “cold and rainy and wet, no matter what time of year” location where they shot.
• And yes, Stephen Amell can actually shoot an arrow and would beat Katniss Everdeen in any competition. Hands down.
Arrow returns for season 3 on Wednesday, Oct. 8 at 8 p.m.
Arrow may have left off on a happy note, but that won’t last very long!
Though Season 2 ended with Team Arrow taking out Deathstroke (Manu Bennett), Season 3 will very quickly set a new tone as the team is put through the ringer. “So much of Season 3 is about the price of victory,” executive producer Andrew Kreisberg told fans during the show’s Comic-Con panel on Friday.
When Arrow fans first met Oliver Queen in season one, he was Laurel’s ex-boyfriend. You know, the one who had cheated on her when he took her sister, Sara, on a boat trip, only to have the boat sink and Sara die. Or, at least, that’s what viewers thought.
By the end of the first season, Ollie is a changed man, and he and Laurel rekindle their flame—for a time. But by that point, another girl had caught the audience’s eye. Enter Felicity Smoak, the witty IT girl who nearly drooled every time Oliver walked into a room. Their relationship seemed so impossible that fans started rooting for it.
But as time went on, romance didn’t seem so impossible anymore. To recap: By the penultimate episode of the second season, Oliver and Felicity have exchanged loving glances, had loaded conversations, and even hugged, but it wasn’t until the season-two finale that fans got something bigger. When Slade kidnapps Laurel in the season-two finale, Oliver hides Felicity at the Queen mansion, where he tells her that Slade is after the woman he loves and that Slade had taken the wrong woman when he took Laurel. He then tells the awestruck Felicity that he loves her.
Ahead of Friday’s Comic-Con panel, executive producers Andrew Kreisberg and Marc Guggenheim preview the new season with THR. Says Guggenheim, “Season three is about identity.”
Arrow is focusing on identity in season three and Oliver Queen won’t be the only one dealing with issues of internal strife.
“If season one was about Oliver going from vengeance to vigilante and season two was vigilante to hero, season three is about identity,” executive producer Marc Guggenheim tells The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s the first season where this theme of identity is not only about Oliver but is also about all the other characters.”
It’s a natural progression for The CW comic-book drama, which has expanded its focus beyond the titular superhero over the past two seasons as it continues to broaden its universe. “It has become an ensemble where it’s not just about the Arrow,” Guggenheim says. “It feels appropriate that we’ll have a theme that will resonate with the whole group.”
Guggenheim, along with executive producer Andrew Kreisberg preview season three — which picks up six months after the finale — with THR.
EW caught up with Arrow executive producer Andrew Kreisberg—who now has his hands full with The CW’s other new flashy (get it?) superhero show The Flash (now you get it). But since Kreisberg is pulling double duty with the DC Comics heroes, that means he’s got double the scoop to offer.
Perhaps most pressing is the question of which villainous threat Oliver Queen will face this coming season, which picks up six or seven months after the season-two finale. Crime is down and the police aren’t hunting Ollie—but peace never lasts that long in Starling City. Despite last season’s startlingly sinister Slade, this year’s villain will have to up the ante even more.
“Slade had a very specific agenda—he was out for revenge and had set up this elaborate five-year plot,” Kreisberg tells EW. “What’s interesting about the villain in season three is that he doesn’t necessarily disagree with [Oliver]. He doesn’t have any personal animus towards the Arrow, and he actually in some ways has a very similar worldview. [But] the Arrow is thinking too small.”
Kreisberg continued: “In some ways, as Oliver is struggling with whether or not he can be the Arrow and Oliver at the same time, the villain of season 3 is saying, ‘Being Oliver Queen is what’s holding you back from fulfilling your true destiny.’ So it’s a very interesting dynamic, but it is tied in the same way that Oliver last year was wrestling with, ‘Am I a hero or a killer?’ The theme of identity is tied up very much in how the villain is presented to Oliver.”
Kriesberg teases that the casting of this year’s Big Bad—one speculative fan theory suggests it’s Ra’s al Ghul—will happen “soon.” Certainly iconic baddie al Ghul would fit the bill for Kreisberg’s description of what Ollie will face in the coming year.
But while he’ll face a new villain, he’ll also encounter a new hero—or, a familiar one, actually. Fans have been buzzing about the announced Arrow/The Flash crossover episode, which will happen in the eighth episode of both shows (think November). So why is this Barry Allen-Oliver Queen mash-up more special than other crossovers?
“It’s really going to be an adventure with the Arrow and Flash on both episodes. Watching the two teams come together and fight alongside each other, it’s one of the most fun parts,” says Kreisberg. “We just don’t believe in waiting. We really believe in accelerated storytelling and especially for those first nine episodes of the season—for both shows—hopefully we’ve designed it so that none of these [make you say], ‘Well, I missed that one, it’s fine.’”
Kreisberg’s entire approach to both Arrow and The Flash operates on the hope that none of the episodes feel like duds. That’s why Kreiger and company have “spectacular and amazing midseason finales planned for both shows that are both game-changers … and what better way to lead into it than by having this amazing team-up?”
The Flash premieres on October 7; Arrow returns for season three on October 8.
What can you tell me about Stephen Amell’s cameo in the pilot for The Flash? —Kat
Ausiello: I can tell you that it’s a nice enough, if obvious, moment, where Barry seeks out the nudge he needs to be the hero he now can be. Now, if I can interest you in some Episode 2 scoop, I am hearing that the second metahuman The Flash will face off against might make us all feel a bit… well, Mist-y.
What is going on with Arrow? Anything new? By the way, is Sara Lance coming back? —Alamin
The Sara sitch was addressed in this recent Ask Ausiello. Elsewhere on the Arrow front, Season 3’s second episode will find Oliver hunting down a vicious killer and mercenary who is wanted for murder in seven countries and now is targeting victims who are associated with a specific company.
Two days later and we’re still not over Arrow’s finale.
You see,’twas an emotional roller coaster for us Olicity fans, who were dealt two major moments between Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) in the CW hit’s season two finale: First, Oliver told Felicity he loved her and we squealed with delight. But then, it was revealed it was all an act to finally get the upper hand on Slade (Manu Bennett). To say we we felt toyed with was an understatement. (A lot of wine was consumed, we won’t lie.)
Of course, this could mean only one thing: we needed to harass Stephen Amell on the red carpet at the CW’s Upfront presentation in order to yell at him and get scoop on what’s ahead for the fan favorite pairing…
And good news, Olicity fans: Amell isn’t so sure that Ollie’s “ILY” was just an act. “I don’t know that it was all a ruse. I think that they got down what they needed to get done,” he told us. “And I think that some of the things he said earlier in the season stayed true.” (Like the fact that he can’t be with someone he could truly care about because of what he does. Yes, we asked him to specify.)
And Emily Bett Rickards also has some doubts about Oliver’s “I love you” being all for show.
“I think he could have meant it. I think it was honest, but I think that in the time-frame of what was happening, obviously it couldn’t be real because the city was dying, for one,” she explained. “But I think he as surprised with how much he meant it. I mean, I can’t speak for Oliver, but from Felicity’s point of view, it was, ‘You almost had me believing it. Poke-poke, did you mean it?’
[Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the Season 2 finale of Arrow. Read at your own risk!]
The moment Arrow fans had been waiting for all season — the Oliver vs. Slade showdown — surprisingly wasn’t the most shocking one of the finale. That belonged to Oliver’s (Stephen Amell) sudden and very out-of-character confession that he is in love with Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards).
The divisive moment practically made social media explode, with Olicity fans feeling validated and dissenters hoping that the declaration was preceding a quick death for Ollie’s Girl Friday. But it was all a ruse designed so that Slade (Manu Bennett) would kidnap Felicity and she could get close enough to administer the cure.
In an otherwise spotless sophomore season, Arrow seemingly succumbed to tantalizing fan-bait, giving those Olicity ‘shippers exactly what they wanted while protecting themselves by assuring others that it was all a trick. And surely the implications of this will be felt in the third season, enough to keep that love triangle at least intact. But there’s a fine line between loving someone and being in love with someone.
With that being said, here’s why we should’ve seen the ruse coming: How the heck can Oliver Queen love Felicity when he doesn’t even really know her? The audience barely knows much about the former Queen Consolidated IT girl-turned-member of Team Arrow other than scarce hints that producers have promised to explore further. That’s not to say that Felicity isn’t an interesting character, but does Oliver really have time to get to know her on a deeper level when he’s been busy saving Starling City and is already emotionally tied to the Lance sisters? The moment wasn’t earned enough for it to be real at all, making it that much harder to swallow in hindsight.
And if he really loved Felicity, he never would’ve sent her into the belly of the beast on the off chance that Slade wouldn’t find the cure on her first or just as quickly slit her throat the moment that Oliver walked in. Ollie was willing to sacrifice Felicity in hopes of protecting the person Slade (likely correctly) assumed was his true love: Laurel (Katie Cassidy).
What did you think about the big twist?