Marc Guggenheim Discusses ARROW’s Journey from the Darkness Into the Light
Recently, Comics Beat caught up with and spoke with S.H.I.E.L.D. writer, Marc Guggenheim. But within the same interview, Guggenheim, who just so happens to be the Executive Producer on Arrow, took the time to discuss some of the tough and less than popular choices he’s had to make for the characters evolution’s on the show and direction of the series as a whole.
Jones: To switch gears, let’s talk about Arrow for a bit. In particular, I wanted to touch on Felicity, as she’s become something of a poster child for the way women are treated on Arrow.
Guggenheim: Absolutely! The idea to injure her in the middle of the year goes back to something we said in the beginning of season two: when you go through a crucible it makes you stronger. I think, hopefully, people are watching the show more for the evolution than the regression that came with earlier seasons.
Jones: Do you think the back end of Arrow season four has achieved the brighter tone teased earlier this year?
Guggenheim: You know, that’s a great question. It’s hard for me to say that a season that began with a grave and a mystery surrounding the identity of the body buried in it is significantly lighter than previous seasons of Arrow. However, one thing that we tried very hard to do this year is avoid the trope that we fell into in season three, where there was darkness but the way that the characters were responding to the darkness was also very dark.
I will give you an example and be very specific. If we had crippled Felicity in season three instead of this season, Felicity would have been crying and moping a lot. The aftermath would also be very dark. I don’t know if people have noticed, but the way that characters respond to darkness is different now. Bad things happen on this show — this is Arrow — but when bad things happen to our heroes, nowadays they respond in a much more positive way than they ever did in the past.
I also think our episodes this year have been some of the funniest we ever had. 4×07 was one of our funnier episodes. We’re actually editing 4×17 right now, which is bar none the funniest episode we’ve ever done in the show. We’ve always been honest with everyone. At the beginning of the year we talked about the lighter tone, but we always said: the show is never going to be The Flash. The Flash has its own tone in our little Arrowverse. Flash is Superman and Arrow is Batman. The biggest change we’ve made is that instead of responding to that darkness with more darkness in Arrow, we’re responding with some more hopeful lightness. At the flash forward at the grave, we’ve been very intentional in having Oliver say: “in the past I would have blamed myself.”
Jones: How did team Arrow decide to utilize the excellent Neal McDonough as the big bad of Arrow season four?
Guggenheim: Me, Wendy Mirecle, and Greg Berlanti wanted to cast McDonough last year but it didn’t work out for a variety of reasons. McDonough said that he wanted to bring “a little more Gene Hackman Lex Luthor” into this character. I’m like “oh, great…I mean sure!” We really pushed that more than we originally intended, but I’m more than happy as it really made the character so much fun to watch. Even with things like Neal’s wedding ring that Darhk wears on the show, Neal asked early on: “can Darhk wear my wedding ring?” We were like sure — and that got us thinking, so Darhk is married? Who is he married to? It has been a wonderful collaboration with Neal over the year.
Jones: I would be remiss with having you on the phone and not asking about Legends of Tomorrow’s Star City 2046, can you talk about it how it came together?
Guggenheim: I don’t think any episode of TV I’ve written had as much fanboy fulfillment as that one did — it was a blast to write. I had so much fun writing with Greg, Stephen was so game and it was just an episode where we got to do all these fun things. We got to reintroduced Deathstroke, introduce Grant Wilson and Connor Hawke and the incredibly costume design for the character. It wasn’t even about planning (it’s always difficult to juggle Stephen with two shows) it was just joy to write and a joy to produce. If my Twitter feed as any indication, it seemed like people were really enjoying the episode.
Arrow airs on Wednesday nights at 8:00pm ET on The CW.