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Fall TV Preview: 'Arrow' aims for a realistic hero

The CW series, based on DC Comics' Green Arrow, stars Stephen Amell as crime-fighting archer Oliver Queen. Producers promise a crime thriller with heart.

September 06, 2012|By T. L. Stanley
  • Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen in "Arrow" on the CW.
Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen in "Arrow" on the CW. (Jack Rowand, The CW )

The hard-edged urban drama "Arrow," coming to the CW this fall, is based on a DC Comics character with more than six decades of pop culture history. In the new TV series, he'll be surrounded by familiar DC figures like Deadshot, China White and possibly Black Canary and uber-villain Deathstroke.

But don't worry if you're not steeped in all that mythology. It's not really a superhero show anyway, the producers said. Well, it's not just a superhero show.

"It's a crime thriller," said Marc Guggenheim, executive producer. "But there's a strong emotional center. It's not all about the action adventure."

TIMELINE: Fall TV premieres and trailers

Green Arrow, who first appeared in comics in 1941, has popped up in other entertainment, most recently as a character on the CW's now-departed "Smallville." The "Arrow" series, premiering Oct. 10 as a companion to "Supernatural," will go a grittier route, with no cheesy spandex in sight, Guggenheim said.

Producers, who include "Green Lantern's" Greg Berlanti and "Smallville's" David Nutter, said the character's origin story is open to interpretation, so they'll be taking a few liberties with it, making it more grounded in reality and less cartoonish.

That extends to the all-important costume for the title character, Oliver Queen and his alter ego, now simply dubbed Arrow. It's a rough-hewn leather-and-hoodie ensemble from Oscar-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood ("Alice in Wonderland").

TIMELINE: Fall TV premieres and trailers

The character who'll be wearing it, played by a chiseled Stephen Amell, is a mix of Batman's Bruce Wayne, Iron Man's Tony Stark and action-movie badass Jason Bourne. The series revolves around Queen, a billionaire playboy who's been stranded on a deserted island for five years after a boat crash that killed his father, among others.

Presumed dead but finally rescued, he returns home a changed man. He becomes a secret vigilante, vowing to clean up his crime-ridden city using his bows and arrows, steely purpose and killer abs.

"Arrow" won't skimp on fighting and violence, but it also will look at "the consequences of taking the law into your own hands," executive producer Andrew Kreisberg said. "As part of his evolution as a hero, the character will move from revenge to redemption."

Unlike some high-flying comic characters, Arrow doesn't have a superpower in the traditional comic book sense, which the producers said will keep the show more earthbound.

"We want everything to look like it could possibly happen," said Amell, who performs many of his own stunts. "If my character does have a superpower, it's that he has no fear."

Though superheroes are all the rage at the multiplex and have made their way successfully onto the small screen, there are plenty more stories to tell, said Jonathan Gray, a comics expert and professor at New York's John Jay College.

Gray said there could be a tremendous upside for DC Comics and parent company Warner Bros. if "Arrow" connects with audiences. For one, it could help set up a multi-hero "Justice League" film franchise, which would be Warner's answer to the massively successful "Avengers" from rivals Marvel and Disney.

No matter that "Arrow" is airing on the female-skewing CW, Gray said, "if word of mouth is positive, then young guys will find it."

There's a downside, too, if the show doesn't deliver, especially if a major villain like Deathstroke isn't handled properly, Gray said.

"I'd say that's a concern because Deathstroke is a bad guy on the level of the Joker and Lex Luthor," Gray said. "If you mess him up, the backlash could be huge. If you do it right, it could be a great foundation for the future of the 'Justice League.'"

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