The CW's superhero series "Arrow" was one of the network's success stories from last season, and it returns for Season 2 on Wednesday night to a TV show landscape that's slowly filling with more comic book properties, including "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." on ABC and a possible "Flash" series that might be spun out of "Arrow."
Series executive producer Andrew Kreisberg took a few minutes to talk about the new season, the old season and the Flash.
You felt a lot of pressure before the show premiered its first episode last year. Now that you’ve achieved success, how do you feel going into the second season?
Terror. On the one hand, some things are easier. I think we have a better sense of what makes a good episode. But by the same token, we feel like we have pleased a lot of people and we certainly don't want to let them down. So we've been working very hard to make sure we don't take our foot off the gas, that this season feels like a continuation, and hopefully an escalation of what everybody enjoyed about Season 1. So far, we always say, if we're happy, then the audience will be happy. This is the kind of show we'd be huge fans of, and so far we've been really pleased with how the episodes are coming out. So hopefully that will translate to enjoyment on the part of the audience.
Looking back at the first season, how much was a grand plan that you executed to perfection and how much of it was things coming together at the last minute?
I think it's a combination of both. I think it's super important to have a plan, but by the same token, not feel like you're shackled to the plan. A lot of times, we'll come up with a grand plan for a season and it turns out as we get into it that it only got us halfway through. But that's better than having nothing. Last season, if you watch the season, there's hints about what's to happen in the finale in the first few episodes. We always knew from the beginning that the plot against the city was to be about destroying the Glades, which is why we had the symbol in the book, which paid off later. But there were lots of happy accidents we found along the way. It's always good to have a plan, and it's always good to have the confidence to stray away from the plan.
So should people be looking in the season premiere for hints as to how Season 2 will end?
Yes, these first two episodes, when you look back, a lot of the stuff that is going to play out is set up in these episodes. There's also a lot of this season that we set up last season. There was a throwaway line last season that's in the "Previously On" in an episode this year, because we're going to pay that line off this year. There are other things, things that Geoff Johns and I thought of on the pilot, wondering if the show got picked up, wouldn't it be cool if?... And now that stuff is being realized.
It seems like the superhero and comic book aspects are being played up for the new season. Was that always the plan?
Yes and no. When we started off, we didn't want to present a world where everyone was running around with a mask and whatnot. One of the themes of the season is consequences. This season, everyone is dealing with the consequences of what happened in the Season 1 finale. And one of the consequences of Oliver Queen going out and being the Arrow is that he's created a cadre of copycats. People emulating him for evil and for a twisted version of good. It's because Oliver put on that hood and went out there. Part of what kept the show from being very comic booky was keeping the characters all very grounded and keeping their reactions to things real, and that's never going to change. So hopefully, even if a few more comic book elements are introduced on the show, it won't change in tone too much from last season. I don't think it will feel any less "realistic."
Now that Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell) is gone, will there be a replacement for the Tommy-Oliver-Laurel love triangle?
We're auditioning replacements. I can't talk too much about that, but I will say that Laurel will develop an interesting relationship that people maybe aren't expecting. Oliver is going to have a few more romantic relationships that people aren't expecting either. I think Laurel and Oliver are always going to be our star-crossed lovers and always destined to be together, but there are several obstacles in their way. This season will definitely be full of those.
Oliver talked last season about not wanting to be a vigilante, but a hero. Is that something you can choose to be or is that something people perceive in you?
I think it's something people perceive in him. I think this season he realizes that it's not a perception about him that he likes, and this season he really sets out to rebrand himself. His plan to save the city last year failed. He came back and had this list of names and he crossed a whole bunch of them off and what did it get him? The bad guy won, the city collapsed and his best friend died. So this year, he decides that in order to save the city he has to save the city's soul. And he can't do that striking like a ninja out of the darkness. He has to step out of the shadows, both literally and metaphorically and become a symbol of hope. If you try to do that, you're setting some lofty ambitions for yourself. And Oliver's going to find this year that it's one thing to say and it's another thing to follow through with it. Not everybody is going to want him to. He has set a much greater task for himself this season, but the greater the risk, the greater the reward. I think the season will be Oliver Queen's finest hour.
A lot more DC characters coming to TV, like Flash, Jim Gordon, John Constantine. Does that require a higher level of coordination with DC as far as which characters you can use or plan to use?
We've always done that. Geoff Johns [DC chief creative officer] is a close friend and he's been involved from the beginning. We've enjoyed a really good relationship. For the most part, everyone that we've used has been all we wanted to use. There haven't been any characters we wanted to use and couldn't. Being such a huge DC Comics fan and being involved in so many projects with them, the more the merrier. And the more of these shows that get on the air, we all help each other. I think our much more grounded version of the DC Unvierse wouldn't be right for certain characters. There's no way to do Mr. Freeze or Clayface. We're very happy with the roster that DC lets us play with. We have one or two big surprises that we're very psyched to unload on the audience.
The Flash is appearing on "Arrow" this season?
Episode 20 is going to be a backdoor pilot. Hopefully it'll become a series. Episodes 8 and 9 are the first with Barry Allen.
Are you open to having a shared universe with another show and have lots of crossovers or do you hope to keep "Arrow" a self-contained story and universe?
I don't want to speculate too much about a show that may or may not get picked up yet, but it could be a lot fun to do an Arrow and Flash show. They would be two very different shows, but it would be a shared universe. As kids, our favorite episodes of "Six Million Dollar Man" and "Bionic Woman" were the ones where they had crossovers. Or the "Buffy" and "Angel" crossovers. There's certainly possibilities for the kinds of shows we could do. It would be amazing.