ARROW: Showrunner Wendy Mericle On Crossovers, Costumes, Comedy & More


This season of Arrow has been nothing short of a whirlwind. With new characters and new conflicts fans have been treated to some of the best hours on television this Fall. With the show ranked 4th among readers in a packed superhero landscape, it's clear the show continues to hit a chord with viewers.

So, with all the changes coming to the show we wanted to catch up with Arrow showrunner, Wendy Mericle about what fans can expect as they ride on through the show's fourth season.

Will someone else get a new costume? Is Damien Darhk Felicity's dad? You'll just have to read on and find out.

Arrow is a show that does interpersonal relationships on TV so well. It's been really fun to watch the cast grow and contract over the past four seasons. With this one, it seems like you guys have thrown a lot more into the mix. For instance, adding a character like Damien Darhk, and tossing in Constantine for an episode. How much of that is a balancing act for you guys to make sure everyone sort of gets appropriate time?

Wendy Mericle: It's tricky. We found, especially in Season 3, that we had so many relationships and so many characters in the lair scenes. That's always kind of the litmus test on the show. When you have a lair scene, and you suddenly have seven people down there, and you're having to service all these different character arcs and different character stories. I think this season we really found a nice balance in that. Unfortunately, Roy left the show and moved on to greener pastures. We still have a good group in the bunker scenes, and we made a conscious decision this season to really focus on Dig and Felicity's relationship. Not just their role on the team and their role as friends of Oliver, but also their own individual back stories. Delving more deeply into their lives and getting to see things we haven't before. We're going to be bringing back Donna Smoak. We're going to be finding out and finally putting to rest, what happened with Diggle's brother Andy.

It's definitely a conscious balancing act. It's something we think about all the time in the writer's room and on the page. I feel like this season we've got it good. We're very excited because we have a good balance going.

Speaking of Felicity and her backstory, we spoke to Emily Bett Rickards and she mentioned that we'll be seeing a bit more of her father. She had mentioned that he was rich and evil. Then a theory popped up here in the office, and among Arrow fans that her dad might be Damien Darhk. Is it?

Mericle: You know, I would hesi ... That's a great idea, and such a great teaser, I almost don't want to spoil it. Unfortunately, no. Damien Darhk is not her father. That's a great theory. Who knows! You guys might have just arc-ed out the rest of the season for us right then and there.

No, that's a great idea, but no, he is not. We are going to bring her father in. He will definitely be evil. He's going to be up to no good, but it's not going to be Damien, unfortunately. Great idea though. Huge props to everyone there. That's amazing.

Everyone seems to be getting new costumes this season. Oliver has a new one, Speedy has one, and at long last, Diggle's getting one. I imagine, too, especially for a show that's as grounded as Arrow, that the idea of people in costumes has to be balanced as well. Are we done for costumed additions this season? When we spoke to Echo Kellum, and he told us he's dying to get into something for Mr. Terrific.

Mericle: Yeah, it did take Dig a while. Dig was very much a conscious decision in that we felt we needed to limit him somewhat in the field in Season 3, because it was just a practicality. If he's out there fighting bad guys, he's going to be identified at one point or another. That would inevitably blow Oliver's cover. That became a necessity. It is fun, it's very cool to see him out there with the mask and the smart gun and all of that. It's just really fun to see that. David Ramsey, I think, in particular, was excited to get that.

That said, we are conscious of not doing that for every character, or too quickly. This season, I think that will be it for new characters in Season 4 getting costumes. Going forward, we definitely have plans for Mr. Terrific. Hoping, you know, if Echo doesn't go off and become a huge superstar somewhere else. It could very well happen because we love him, and he's just amazing. He's so good on the show and brings such a cool element to the show. We're really excited about him.

Given the world that you all have built, and its inter-connectivity with The Flash and Legends Of Tomorrow, is there ever an impulse to do a "Justice League" type episode beyond the crossovers? Or is Legends Of Tomorrow essentially as close to a Justice League we'll get within this universe?

Mericle: I think the crossovers were sort of the first attempt at seeing what it would look like to bring a bunch of different characters together from different shows. It works really well. I think I'm answering your question when I say that, yes, we do talk about Legends as a Justice League of sorts. Sort of our version of it. It is, as you know from everything that's already been released, it's a group of superheroes, or "Legends", so to speak, out there being heroes. It does have a different tone, though. One of the things that's really exciting about it having it come up in this universe, in this context, is how different it is from Flash and from Arrow. It has a very different feel, and the time travel element is completely new to both shows. It's really fun. It's turning out to be just really bad-ass.

Let's time travel back a bit on our own; back to Damien Darhk. We know that he's going to be showing up on Flash and in Legends, did that decision come about because he blew you guys away with his portrayal and you wanted to get him into the mix of everything else? Or was that something that was already planned even from when you had cast Neil as Damien?

Mericle: I think it was kind of ... the cross-pollination that's been happening between the three shows has been really interesting to watch and be a part of. It certainly was very much rooted in what he was doing. Especially in the premiere. From the beginning, he just has been an amazing presence on-camera, but also an amazing presence off camera. He's a great guy to work with. The height of professionalism. I think it was just a combination of the performance and who he is and the fun of seeing someone that we've only introduced just this season on Arrow. Seeing him show up on the other shows so quickly I think was something we hadn't done before. It seemed exciting.

He's been, again, he's just amazing. He's really watchable.

Neil told us that his portrayal as Damien Darhk feels in line with Gene Hackman's Lex Luthor. He especially elaborated on the humor aspect of that character. With a show like Arrow, what's it like balancing humor in this setting? The show has plenty of jokes, especially from Felicity. Is that also something that you guys keep track of?

Mericle: Absolutely. This season in particular, we really wanted to bring that element more to the fore. Mostly because Oliver is in a different place emotionally. We really looked at the first three seasons as Oliver's dealing with the PTSD, and the trauma that he experienced in the five years that he was gone, and also subsequently being back in Star City and taking on this new role as a vigilante. We sort of brought that to a close at the end of Season 3. He's in love with Felicity now, and we wanted to see him happy, essentially.

Along with that, it's opened the door to change a little bit of the dynamic and allow for a little more humor, because it's organically coming from Oliver himself. We, also, when we brought Damien in, there was a definite conscious decision, too. It's interesting that he says Gene Hackman and Lex Luthor. That was interestingly not ever a touchstone in our writer's room for the definition of, and the description of, his character. It's a great one, and it's apt. We wanted to bring in a super-villain who was so confident and so assured about his plans and really rooted so deeply in his own evil that he could make a few jokes. He wasn't worried about taking anyone on. He's not scared of anyone.

That really is Damien Darhk's character. He's a bonafide sociopath. He doesn't have any empathy, he's not really even the hero of his own story. He's no one we, I don't think, as the audience, could ever really empathize with. Humor becomes necessary, not just to humanize him and keep the audience guessing about what his true motives are, but also just because it can get very one-note otherwise. We were excited to have the opportunity to bring someone else in. To bring in this villain and see what it would be like if he was cracking jokes in front of the Green Arrow and in front of, now, Lance. It's fun. Neil does such an amazing job. We couldn't have got better casting.



So what do you think readers? Let us know in the comments below.