Why did The CW’s Arrow producers not cast Smallville’s Green Arrow played by Justin Hartley?
Well, if you’ve seen the pilot, you know why Stephen Amell was cast. It’s just a very different take on the character and a much more physical role. But let’s hear it from executive producer Marc Guggenheim: “We certainly wanted to chart our own course and destiny,” he told reporters at the Television Critics Association’s semi-annual press tour Monday. “Justin is a terrific Arrow.”
Guggenheim, noting he was borrowing the following comparison, added: “Michael Keaton [as Batman] doesn’t affect your love for Christian Bale and Christian Bale doesn’t affect your love for Adam West … multiple iterations are possible.”
For the role, Amell trained on a course often used to prepare athletes for Ninja Warrior and also learned free-running (parkour). And, of course, the actor learned archery, with his instructor starting off by showing him a 45-minute video of all the ways the archery had been executed poorly in TV and movies in the past.
Though Guggenheim made the comparison to Batman, one notable difference between the two comic book characters is that Green Arrow deliberately kills bad guys (pretty tough to use an bow and arrow and always aim for the leg).
“We’re exploring the nature of vigilantism … and well get into those [moral] issues,” Guggenheim said. “The Arrow always gives the bad guy the opportunity to do the right thing … when he kills, he kills for necessity … it’s not just random violence … we’ll face the issues of his morality head on…that’s part of the fun quite, frankly, when telling a story about a vigilante.”
Expect Oliver Queen’s liberal side from the comic books to not be entirely dumped either, though it sounds like it will be a bit toned down. “The people that Oliver is targeting are the wealthy and corrupt,” Guggenheim said. “There’s some echos of the 1 percent and Occupy Wall Street … he’s man of the people and taking it back for the little guy.”
Producers also gave a hint of how the series will end – now there’s something you don’t often get during an interview before a show has even premiered! Arrow’s pilot features flashbacks to Queen being stranded on an island where he morphed from selfish rich kid to vigilant hero. Those flashbacks, producers say, will continue in every episode for the entire series.
“The last episode of the series will be [Arrow] seeing the [rescue] boat in the pilot,” said executive producer Andrew Kreisberg. “Every week is telling the origin story.”
UPDATE: Justin Hartley took the TCA stage a little later to talk about his new show, the also-promising Emily Owens M.D. At one point he was asked if he saw the Arrow pilot, he replied, “I saw the trailer for the pilot, Arrow. It looks tremendous.”