Posted April 2, 2014 by Mikey Sutton in Comics

UNDER THE HOOD: An Interview with STEPHEN AMELL of ‘Arrow’


Black Canary is suddenly all over Green Arrow, marking his face with lipstick kisses.

“Hey! Standing at a stoplight is no place to smooch,” Green Arrow tells her.

“I was just following the instructions on the sign over there,” Black Canary responds. “Turn on Green Arrow!”

Ever since the CW series Arrow debuted on October 2012, Stephen Amell has been turning on viewers as Oliver Queen, the wealthy playboy who, after being stranded on an island for five years, returns to his hometown Starling City with a newly found fierce determination for vigilante justice, a buff physique, and superior archery and fighting skills. Donning an emerald hood, he stalks Starling’s bad men and shoots arrows in their flesh. In the series’ first half, Queen was like a cross between Robin Hood and the Punisher, killing his foes with little or no remorse. But the show began to deepen, adding twisted layers to Queen’s years on the island and in his family life; realizing that the only way he would succeed was to be a hero and not a hood, his slaughtering days were over. Arrows would pierce the skin but not the heart. At the same time, the program’s soap-opera suds – a CW trademark – were flushed out, thankfully replaced by eye-popping super-heroics as Queen’s rogues gallery was also lifted from the pages of DC Comics. Ironically, the characterization developed; the friendship and eventual violent fallout between Queen and fellow island survivor Slade Wilson is one of the most heartbreaking and gripping love-hate relationships ever in a comic-book adaptation.

Given that Green Arrow resides in Seattle in the comics, thanks to Washington State resident Mike Grell’s acclaimed character makeover in the ‘80s, it would be appropriate for Amell to attend the city’s Emerald City Comicon. Having finished filming at 4 a.m., Amell didn’t even look tired at all he drove straight from Vancouver to Seattle. Wearing a Flash cap, a nod to the scarlet speedster who will be spinning off from Arrow into his own series, Amell was all smiles. It was obvious that he was excited to be visiting the city. “I was definitely rooting for the Seattle Seahawks,” Amell revealed about this year’s Super Bowl champions.

Arrow is a major fan favorite among today’s genre TV programs, mostly due to the series’ frequently occurring pilfering of its DC roots, from the Huntress to the Suicide Squad. According to Amell, it won’t stop there. Although he cannot reveal the identities of any upcoming super friends, Amell is pleased that the show has no problems going against its initial emphasis on gritty realism. “I would want super-hero costumes,” Amell said. “I’d want Diggle in a costume. Felicity in a costume. Put everybody in a costume; let’s get it all out in the open.”

With Arrow gradually opening doors to the rest of the DC universe, there were rumors, most likely propelled by wishful thinking, of Amell’s involvement in the upcoming Batman Vs. Superman film. According to Amell, nothing has been decided yet in that regard; however, there is no doubt as to Amell’s desire to be in it. “I’m completely over competitive, and the thought of somebody else playing Oliver Queen makes me want to smash my head through that table,” Amell admitted. “I have expressed my interest. We have a wonderful relationship with DC. They have given us the ability to say Ra’s al Ghul’s name on the air. It’s a real testament to their faith in our product.” Amell grew up on Superman, and he was impressed by Henry Cavill’s take on the Man of Steel. “He did a really good job,” Amell said. He imagined that, if Green Arrow should meet Superman in an upcoming movie, the first thing he’d say would be, “So, you’re an alien, huh?”

Although Arrow has switched Queen’s HQ from being from Seattle to Starling City, it’s merely a name change; Amell explained that Starling is Seattle, its Vancouver shooting location simply a few hours away. Vancouver’s overcast skies mirror those of nearby Seattle’s, and Amell said that, “bad weather looks fantastic.” Arrow certainly has its dark days; however, behind the scenes there is an abundance of humor as well. Amell revealed that Manu Bennett sometimes has vision problems when he wears eye patch as Deathstroke the Terminator. A recent episode features Bennett walking coolly into his hotshot car; during the filming, though, Bennett banged his head trying into it. 

Romantic relationships, especially those that fail, have been a significant part of Green Arrow’s existence since he hooked up with Black Canary over 40 years ago. With a love triangle with Black Canary and her sister on the TV series already causing tension, surely Queen wouldn’t make his daily existence more complicated? Queen has been platonic with his pretty yet nerdy computer whiz Felicity Smoak thus far yet her unrequited love for him is turning increasingly obvious. Will the heat be turned up? Amell won’t confirm it but the possibility isn’t out of the question.  “I hope that anything we set up on the show would pay off,” Amell teased.

Mikey Sutton