Interview: ‘Arrow’ EP Marc Guggenheim on Katana, The Atom, and Season 3


Arrow executive producer/writer Marc Guggenheim is no stranger to working in the superhero genre, having been a producer on No Ordinary Family and working on the screenplay for the Ryan Reynolds Green Lantern film. He’s had a hand in writing almost all of my favorite episodes from Arrow, so it was exciting when Marc decided to take some time at Comic-Con 2014 to give myself and the other journalists some hints about Season 3, as well as telling us a bit about the DC Comics characters coming to the show this season.

You can check out the highlights below, and keep following for more Comic-Con interviews with the cast and crew:


On the overall theme for Season 3:

“That’s a great question actually, because usually it’s hard to answer. Usually we always have a season long arc for Oliver (Stephen Amell) and a season long theme for Oliver and that theme doesn’t impact all the characters necessarily. This year the theme is identity, and the trailer we released last night, you know ‘A man can not live by two names…’, a lot of Season 3 will be about can Oliver be Oliver Queen or The Arrow. Can he be both? Which one is he? The concept of identity. 

But what’s cool about this theme is every other character on the show is going through the same thing. Every other character on the show is dealing with some question of identity. Who am I? What am I? What am I doing?

I’ll give you an example: Detective Lance (Paul Blackthorne) is now Captain Lance. In the premiere it’s totally, totally cool – he’s basically taken a desk job. He’s like ‘Well, if I can’t be a cop the way I used to be a cop, what am I? Who am I?’ He’s dealing with identity.

Laurel (Katie Cassidy) will be dealing with identity. She tries to walk the path that her sister walks. Thea (Willa Holland) – Is she Malcolm Merlyn’s (John Barrowman) daughter? Or is she Moira Queen’s (Susanna Thompson) daughter? Who is she?

Digg (David Ramsey) – Am I a sidekick? Am I my own man? Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) – Am I more than Oliver Queen’s crush object? Do I have my own identity? 

All the characters will be wrestling with this in various different forms. Its like a diamond and we’re looking at all the different facets through all the different characters throughout the season. That, to me, is probably the most exciting aspect of Season 3 because like I said, we’ve never really had that kind of cogent, really clear theme running throughout the entire year that affects everybody. Which is, I think, cool.”

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On DC guest stars for Season 3:

“Well, I can tell you this: We’re going to have Ray Palmer [aka The Atom, played by Brandon Routh], which is awesome and our plans for him are really exciting and fantastic. That already is wow! I did not expect to get a member of The Justice League. That’s pretty friggin’ cool. We could not be more excited. 

Then there’s another character from the DC Universe that you’re going to be hearing about tonight at the panel [Ra’s Al Ghul was announced that night at SDCC]. So I can’t spoil that, but that’s super exciting. I’m not saying a word. 

And there’s at least one, I think there’s at least one other character that we haven’t announced yet. But we’ve already announced Katana (Devon Aoki). We’ve already announced Werner, who is Vertigo (Peter Stormare) and there will be others sort of along the way.

I’m personally surprised by the corners of the DC Universe they are now allowing us to play in, and I think other people will be surprised as well.’

Guggenheim Arrow Interview 02On whether Katana will have her trademark mask and sword:

“Thanks for actually asking that question, because as I was talking I forgot to mention we got Katana [Editor’s Note: he didn’t actually forget]. We’ve already announced that. We’re going to meet her in the flashbacks, certainly with the potential to see her in the present day. When we meet her in the flashbacks, she is not yet Katana.

But certainly our hope and expectation is that in the flashbacks or the present day story you will see the full-fledged Katana. We know the design we want to use. Devon Aoki is cast. We’re really excited, she’s phenomenal and she just felt totally right. She and Karl Yune, who plays her husband, who is also a character from the comics, they just make a wonderful pairing and a lot of fun. Its fun to see them in scenes with Stephen in the flashbacks because that’s really gold. 

On whether the show will co-exist with the DC Cinematic Universe:

“By the way, how cool would that be if one day they did a ‘Crisis’? Here, I’m going to pitch you right now and I’ll write it for free – at some point ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’ – a multiverse crossover between the Cinematic Universe and the TV Universe. You gotta do it. 

Basically it’s always worked the same way since the beginning of the show, which is  you always come up with ideas for the characters first. We never have approached it from a ‘Hey this is a character in the DC Universe that we want to play with.’ You take the Ray Palmer character, originally it was supposed to be Ted Kord. Because what we really did was we said ‘We know we want this character that has these qualities: x, y and z.’

That’s the way we approach all the characters on the show, whether they are recurring or one-off villains. First we go looking through the DC encyclopedia and our mental inventory and we say ‘Oh that character feels kind of right.’ And then we go to DC and we say ‘Can we use this character?’ and sometimes they say ‘Yes’ and sometimes they say “No’ and sometimes they say ‘No, but what about this character?’ and it’s a negotiation, and they’re our partners in this and they’ve always been incredibly supportive. 

They know the big picture in terms of which characters are going to be used in which medium and whatnot and they also monitor, like us using Jim Gordon in Arrow when Jim Gordon is on Gotham.

On the role DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns plays in decision-making:

“There’s three executives at DC Entertainment who we deal with on a daily basis [including Geoff]. Sometimes we’ll send out an email to one and sometimes all three, it really just depends on how busy we are – how busy they are – and that sort of thing. They literally are a two-minute walk from our offices, so we’re in very close communication and it’s very organic. 

And that’s also true for Easter Eggs we put in the show. There’s an Easter Egg coming up in Episode 4, that might be my new favorite. It’s just a great deal of fun. I shot off an email to [DC executive] and I’m like ‘I got this idea for an Easter Egg, can we do it?’ and word came back ‘Sure!’ It’s all case by case.”

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On how many episodes Brandon Routh will play Ray Palmer:

“It’s funny, it was reported as 14 but my recollection, quite frankly, was that we made a deal for 16.”

On whether Ray Palmer will get his own episode:

“He will. We’ve been talking about maybe doing a flashback-oriented episode. We’re definitely going to do an episode around the middle of the year like we typically do, like ‘The Odyssey’, like ‘The Promise’ where if you put it into proportions, it’s mostly flashback as opposed to mostly present day. We’ll probably do that centered around Oliver in Hong Kong, just because that’s been our pattern.

But we did this once in Season 1 and we had success with that, so we kept doing more and more in Season 2 and we had a lot of success with that, and that was to do non-Oliver centric flashbacks. Or non-island, now non-Hong Kong flashbacks. We’re going to do more and more of those and certainly Ray is fair game.

For sure, we’ve talked about flashing back to the night of  the seige, which was the season finale, and seeing those events from a different perspective.”


Arrow will premiere its third season on Wednesday, October 8, exclusively on The CW.