It's only been a year since Justin Hartley fought villains alongside Smallville's Tom Welling as Oliver Queen, aka the Green Arrow. But the CW is ready to introduce a new Oliver Queen on Arrow, a new fall drama.
In CW's version, Stephen Amell's Queen is a wealthy playboy who survives a boating accident that kills his girlfriend's sister, with whom he was having an affair, and his father. He returns to civilization after five years on a deserted island, where he hones his archery skills to survive, birthing his alter ego, Arrow.
This iteration will pull more directly from the comics, specifically Green Arrow: Year One and Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters. "It's really a point of inspiration that sets up our world," executive producer Marc Guggenheim told reporters at CW's Television Critics Association fall TV previews on Monday. "We've already taken a fair number of liberties with the character. For example, in the comics both his parents are dead, but we're keeping Oliver's mother alive. Oliver didn't have any siblings and we gave him a sister."
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"I think the audience these days is savvy enough to recognize that there are multiple iterations possible for any given character," Guggenheim says, recalling the recent influx of Spider-Man films.
It doesn't mean they're happy about it. Many Smallville fans expected Hartley to continue playing the role in the new series. But the producers noted that Amell was the first, and really only choice for the job. "We certainly wanted to chart our own course and chart our own destiny" Guggenheim says. "Justin is a terrific Arrow. Michael Keaton doesn't affect your love for Christian Bale and Christian Bale doesn't affect your love for Adam West."
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To be fair, it's also not the same show at all. "We're certainly exploring the nature of vigilantism," Guggenheim says. "One of the things you'll see in the early episodes is the Arrow, like in the pilot, always gives the bad guy of the week the opportunity to do the right thing, and that's only one of the moral guidelines that we're establishing. But also, when he kills, he'll kill for necessity, for a reason, it's not random violence. We'll face the issues of his mortality head-on."
Each episode will feature flashbacks to Oliver's time on the island in chronological order. "He's coming back from this island and he clearly has post-traumatic stress disorder," Amell says. "That's a serious subject. All the talks of supervillains and potential nemeses for the Arrow; I think the most imminent danger to Oliver is himself."
Dinah "Laurel" Lance (Katie Cassidy), Oliver's girlfriend, will, at least initially, be unsympathetic. (For the record, executive producer Andrew Kreisberg says that Laurel might, as in the comics, become the Black Canary at some point in the future.
Until then, Oliver has work to do. He has a list — like Revenge's Emily! — of those he needs to take down to rectify his family's past mistakes. "While he has this list, [which] is the jumping-off point for stories, the bad guys of the week are not always the same, circumstances are not always the same," Guggenheim said. "Part of Oliver's evolution as a hero is moving from this mission of revenge to a mission of redemption. That means moving off of the list and starting to help people and stop crimes and move away from just the agenda of righting his father's wrongs to a more broad local agenda of 'I have to save the city!'"
Arrow premieres Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 8/7c on The CW.