Marc Guggenheim Talks ARROW Season 2, Exposing Oliver’s Secret, the Suicide Squad, The Huntress, Harley Quinn Rumors, THE FLASH Crossover, and More

     March 19, 2014


On Season 2 of the hit CW series Arrow, Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) has rededicated himself to his mission of being more than just another vigilante, and is attempting to become a beacon of hope for the city’s most vulnerable, as The Arrow.  With everything changing in both the present-day and the past, there are sure to be big reveals, lots of action, romance and new secrets, in the remaining episodes of this season.

During this recent interview to promote the remaining episodes of Arrow Season 2, executive producer/writer Marc Guggenheim talked about how the number of people who know Oliver’s secret will increase before the end of the season, whether viewers might see any of the Suicide Squad characters again, what made now the right time to bring back The Huntress, that they already have an idea for her return in Season 3, where things are headed for Thea, just how insane Slade Wilson might be, the Harley Quinn rumors and speculation, the appearance of two of the characters from The Flash in Episode 19, the inevitable big showdown between Oliver and Slade, and how many more Olicity moments viewers might see.  Check out what he had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.

Marc Guggenheim Arrow Season 2 InterviewQuestion: There are a lot of people who know Oliver’s secret now.  Is that number going to go down, before the end of this season, or are more people going to find out?

MARC GUGGENHEIM:  I would say that that number is going to go up, before the end of the year.  By the finale, more people will know than currently do.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

GUGGENHEIM:  We talk in the writers’ room a lot about, are there too many characters that know and does it diminish the secret identity?  Where we have come from is the philosophy that, when members of our cast of characters know, it draws them into Oliver’s world and it draws them into the show more.  So, we tend to get more story out of people knowing than people not knowing.  You could say that too many people know, but we always use The Dark Knight trilogy as our compass, and a lot of people knew that Bruce Wayne was Batman, particularly by the third movie, and it doesn’t diminish my enjoyment of watching those stories unfold.  Obviously, there are different philosophies and different points of view.  For us, as writers, we always go towards whatever gives us more story, and more interesting story.  For now, at least, certain people knowing is more interesting than certain people not knowing. 

Quentin Lance used to be a detective.  How has he not figured out that Oliver is Arrow?

GUGGENHEIM:  Episode 19 pretty definitively answers that question, as far as Lance is concerned.  And the answer to that will surprise you.  It’s not something that you would expect.

How long was the Suicide Squad a goal for this season, and will we see any of those characters again?

GUGGENHEIM:  It happened so organically that I don’t have a memory as to when it crystallized for us.  The year started, as year one did, with DC providing us a list of characters who were available and who they would like to see on the show.  We went through it and one of the characters that spoke to us was Bronze Tiger.  We thought, “That’s a character who we could very organically Arrow-ify.”  It seemed to make sense to us.  But as always, we had to wait for the right time and find the right story to fit the character.  As it so happened, we ended up doing it sooner than we expected, which was the second episode of Season 2.  And then, we started talking about how we’ve had three members of the Suicide Squad and thought that would be fun to get to.  It just happened very organically.  But it really started out with wanting to do a Lyla-Diggle story because we’d established this relationship, at the end of last year, and evolved it a little further, getting them back together in Episode 6 of this year.  It started off with, what would be something good to have them fight about?  And someone in the writers’ room pitched, “Well, if Lyla was involved with the Suicide Squad and Diggle was not approving of it, that would be a nice source of conflict form the two of them.  So, it started from a character perspective and realizing that we had a lot of pieces in place.  One of the reasons we decided to call the bomber in Episode 10 Shrapnel is that Shrapnel is a member of the Suicide Squad and we thought we could use him, if we ever did the Suicide Squad.  I wish we could say we were like Marvel saying, “Oh, we knew we were doing an Avengers movie,” but we slowly put the pieces on the board and realized it was possible.  But I’m very, very glad.  I’m happy we were able to do it this year, and do it in the way we did it.

arrow-the-huntress-jessica-de-gouwWhat made now the right time to bring back The Huntress?

GUGGENHEIM:  Obviously, we love Jessica [De Gouw], and we love the character of Helena Bertinelli.  We had been talking, throughout the year, about bringing The Huntress back, under a variety of different scenarios.  As always, we start off with asking, what’s a good episode?  We don’t think about timing and we don’t think about logistics.  We just think about what would be good.  Episode 17 is the episode where Laurel gets her groove back.  We knew that we wanted to return Laurel to the D.A.’s office, and we knew that, by the end of the episode, Laurel had to be in a good emotional place.  So, we wanted to re-establish her, emotionally and professionally.  And when you’re talking about bringing her back to the D.A.’s office, you think about what case she’s prosecuting.  We talked about a variety of different scenarios, and the scenarios that resonate best with us is, what’s a case that could affect a character that we care about?  That led Andrew to pitch the idea, “What if Frank Bertinelli is being prosecuted and The Huntress comes back to town?”  And I said, “What if Frank is being prosecuted, but it’s all a sham, and it’s all just to draw The Huntress back in town?”  We involved the writers in the process and someone came up with the great idea that the cold open would be Frank Bertinelli being caught and in custody, so that we would get the episode off with a bang.  That’s how it evolved.  Of course, we started asking the question, what’s Helena been doing?  She’s literally been off the show for a year, and what’s she been doing for a year?  What mental state is she in?  What emotional state is she in?  We definitely went into this with wanting to wrap up the whole Helena and her father storyline.  The one thing we were very agreed upon, in the writers’ room, from the get-go is that we had to end that story and close that chapter of Helena’s life, so that we can start a new chapter for her.  The advantage of bringing The Huntress back, at this point in Oliver’s arc, is that it gave us a chance to articulate how far Oliver has come in his evolution.  Had he met Helena today, in this point of his evolution, maybe there wouldn’t even be a Huntress.  Maybe he would have solved the problem of her vendetta, in a different way.  Back in Episodes 7 and 8 of last year, he was trying to channel her anger and vengeance into a more positive direction.  Left to his own devices now, he would try it, in a different way.  The tragedy of Episode 17 is that, just as he’s developed this clarity within himself that he could then pass on to her, Helena is in jail, for the time being. 

Now that this chapter of her life has closed, where do you think she’s going next?  Where would you like to see her end up?

GUGGENHEIM:  We definitely have an idea for a Season 3 episode with The Huntress.  So, you’ll just have to tune in to Season 3. 

arrow-crucible-caity-lotzWould you like to see more of the Birds of Prey storyline?

GUGGENHEIM:  One of the things we would love to do, at some point, is an episode where you’ve got Black Canary, Felicity and The Huntress working together.  That’s on our show bucket list.  One thing I’ve talked to DC comics about is doing a Huntress series that covers the year that she spent, between Episodes 117 and 217, from her perspective, traveling the world and hunting for her father.  All things are possible.

How long will the personal and professional teaming of Oliver and Sara last?

GUGGENHEIM:  I don’t anyone is ever in a good place for too long on Arrow.  I will say that where they are right now is not where they will end up by the end of the year, either personally or professionally.  But, I don’t want to spoil exactly how things unfold.   

What was your intention with calling Roy by the Speedy nickname in Episode 17?

GUGGENHEIM:  We did it because we want to keep inching Roy towards an Arsenal place.  One of the runnings gags is that he keeps getting called Speedy and says, “I don’t like that nickname.  Come up with another nickname for me.”  When the time is right, eventually the nickname that will stick will be Arsenal, but the time has to be right.

What can you say about where things are headed for Thea?

GUGGENHEIM: As always, things happen sooner rather than later on Arrow.  Thea learns something pretty massive in Episode 18 that will cause a tectonic shift in her relationship with Oliver.  Thea is in physical danger and emotional danger.  The bit that’s being held over her in Episode 18 is a double-edged sword, in that it’s both physical and emotional.  I can guarantee that, by the end of Episode 18, one of those edges is going to cut her. 

How sane is Slade Wilson?  Does he just want revenge, or is he also insane?

GUGGENHEIM:  We try not to use the “I” word, as it were.  He’s clearly not in his right mind, and Episode 18 will give you a lot of insights into what is going on in his head.  Episode 18 is called “Deathstroke,” in large part because we really do get a much greater sense of Slade’s agenda and where he’s coming from, but also what’s going on in his head.  Hopefully, Episode 18 will answer that, or at the very least, give you a big, new insight into it. 

arrow-suicide-squad-michael-jai-white-sean-maher-cynthia-addai-robinson-michael-roweHow prepared were you for the Harley Quinn rumors?

GUGGENHEIM:  Completely unprepared.  For one thing, we didn’t expect it to end up in the promo, so we were caught a little off guard, on that front.  Andrew was very much like, “I totally knew people would lose their minds.”  And I was like, “Really?!”  I did not expect people to lose their minds the way they did, but I was very glad.  So, Andrew was a lot more prepared than I was. 

How much of the Batman universe can you plug into this show, especially now with Gotham out there?

GUGGENHEIM:  That’s part of the ongoing relationship and discussions that we have with DC.  Things have not really changed with Gotham.  It’s the same thing that it always is, which is that we have an idea, we go to DC, we talk about it, and we find out where the lines are and which characters are available or not available.  I want to manage expectations with respect to Harley Quinn.  She was always intended to be an Easter egg.  I don’t want people to go in with incorrect expectations and walk away from Episode 16 disappointed.  But there is an element to the Easter egg that was not spoiled by the promo, that I think people will find a lot of fun. 

Will any characters from The Flash pilot show up in Episode 19?

GUGGENHEIM:  Yes.  The reason I’ve been holding off on Tweeting the title page for Episode 19 is that 19 is co-written by Geoff Johns, Andrew Kreisberg and Greg Berlanti, the team behind The Flash, and I felt like, if I Tweeted that, the jig would be up.  Little did I know, the jig would get out itself.  But Danielle Panabaker, who plays Caitlin, and Carlos Valdes, who plays Cisco, two members of Star Labs that are part of the regular cast of The Flash, do make an important appearance in Episode 19 of Arrow.  This was something that really came about because Barry was in a coma at the end of Episode 9 and that made it impossible for Barry to appear in Episode 19 or 20 of Arrow.  He’s gotta stay in a coma until October of next year.  But, the idea of bringing in those characters really appealed to us because it allowed us to honor our original intention that we had at the beginning of the year, to do something Flash-related in Episode 19 or 20, without having comatose Barry and paying Grant Gustin a lot of money to sit around with his eyes closed, unconscious for the whole episode.  We wrote that episode and it’s really boring.  But this episode is really cool and it allows us to further flesh out The Flash universe in Arrow.  We get to see their dynamic.  They actually shot their scenes for the Arrow episode, contemporaneous with shooting The Flash pilot.  Both Episode 19 and The Flash were in production at the exact same time.  That isn’t why we did it.  That was an added producing/logistical complication.  But, it’s just so much fun to see these characters.  It’s like previewing Boba Fett in the holiday special.  Hopefully, Episode 19 will be a little bit better than the holiday special, but you can see the analogy. 

the-flash-grant-gustinWith the amount of things in Episodes 18 and 19, what’s left for the finale?

GUGGENHEIM:  Quite a bit.  We had a lot of story that we still had to get to.  We always knew how this season would end, and we knew the moment that we were building up to.  We also knew a good chunk of the moments we wanted to have.  Trying to figure out how to cram it all into the remaining episodes was a little bit of a trick.  So, we’re very much on this rocket ride from Episodes 19 to 23.  We always talk about the season being chapters in a book.  Episode 18 is the end of one chapter, and then the final chapter is Episodes 19 through 23.  

Do you already know where you’re going to go with the story on the island for Season 3?

GUGGENHEIM:  We do.  We know exactly what we’re going to do.  I think we have more clarity on what’s going to happen in the flashbacks for Season 3 than we did at the beginning of Season 2, for Season 2.  We have a very cool storyline in mind.  One of the things that we’ve started to talk about is, with him being on the island for five years, what do we do if the show goes past Season 5.  By that point, we probably will have run out of money, so the flashbacks in Season 6 will be flashbacks to Episodes 101, 102 and 103.  We’ll flashback and do a clip show, and we’ll save money that way. 

Is this season heading towards the big showdown between Oliver and Slade, or might that happen before the end of the season?

GUGGENHEIM:  I think you will definitely see a series of showdowns.  They’re not repetitive.  Their confrontation in Episode 18 is a very unexpected one, and the way it unfolds is very unexpected.  But this whole season has really been about Oliver versus Slade, with a lot of other elements orbiting it.  I don’t think it will be a surprise to say that the conclusion of their story won’t happen until the final episode of the season.   

How will Malcolm Merlyn fit into things?

GUGGENHEIM:  I would say the secret that Moira and now Oliver have been keeping from Thea will cast a very long shadow over the rest of the season.  That will play a pretty big role, all the way up to the finale. 

arrow-crucible-stephen-amell-emily-bett-rickardsWill we get to learn more about Felicity’s life, outside of the time she spends with Oliver?

GUGGENHEIM:  You’ll definitely find out more.  In Episode 13 of this year, we talked a little bit about Felicity’s parents.  We’ll learn a little bit more about Felicity’s parentage in future episodes.  It’s funny, Felicity has become this little mystery box where we slowly dole out pieces of information about her background and her life.  That’s proven to be an unexpected source of fun for us, and we will continue to do so.  We have this whole backstory for her, that we came up with at the end of last year or the beginning of this year, and it’s been fun to dole out a nugget here and dole out a nugget there.   More will be forthcoming, not only is Season 2, but in Season 3.

Will we continue to see the romantic spark between Oliver and Felicity?

GUGGENHEIM:  It keeps popping up.  The thing about the show is that we’re obviously telling a lot of story with a lot of characters.  Not every episode can check off all the boxes.  We really do think of the show as a season.  By the end of the season, hopefully you’ll have seen enough Isabel Rochev, you’ll have seen enough Roy, you’ll have seen enough of Oliver and Felicity, you’ll have seen enough of Oliver and Laurel, and you’ll have seen enough of Oliver and Sara.  You haven’t seen the last of the Olicity moments, as people call them.  But at the same time, we don’t try to cram them in.  We don’t go, “Oh, we haven’t done that in awhile, so let’s cram it into an episode.”  We always try very hard to let the episode dictate to us what it wants to be.

Arrow airs on Wednesday nights on The CW.


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