season two begins tonight at 9 p.m.,with Oliver Queen's journey of vengeance starting on the road to true heroism, while introducing The Flash, the Birds of Prey, the Suicide Squad and more. As the first season went on, it drew more and more acclaim for its bold visual approach and the way it was starting to build a cohesive and interesting DC Universe.
With just hours to go before the season two premiere of The CW's Arrow, ComicBook.com was joined by series executive producer Marc Guggenheim, who chatted with us about both the technical and practical concerns of shooting an increasingly superhero-centric series in an increasingly superhero-centric TV landscape.
ComicBook.com: Have things been chaotic this year, with the spinoff announcement and the exponential increase in DC characters?
Marc Guggenheim: You know, they're not as chaotic as I might have expected or would have feared. We're kind of just cooking with gas. It's the difference honestly between a first season and a second season. We know what the show is now, we know what we have to do, we know what it takes to make a good episode, and to take a good episode and make it great. So it's really going pretty smoothly. We don't feel the craziness that we felt this time last year where leading up to the premiere we were doing reshoots on stuff and still trying to figure out what the show is. It's just--knock on wood--a much easier process.
ComicBook.com: And you guys really seemed to find a groove pretty quickly, considering how different the show became.
Guggenheim: I definitely think that the show found its footing and we made a lot of mid-course corrections along the way. I'm not at all embarrassed by the first batch of episodes but I do feel like the show got better.
We always talked about constructing these seasons as a series of chapters and episode five ends one chapter, episode nine ends another chapter--and sixteen. Each time we ended a chapter I felt like we did it in a way that found a new gear for the show. It wasn't planned by that at all but it worked out nicely that I think we just kept raising the level of our game.
ComicBook.com: It's kind of inevitable that people are going to compare the series to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., isn't it? So far I'm hearing nothing but great things from the people who have seen tonight's premiere, though, so I'm guessing you won't take too much of a hit off that. Was that a worry going in?
At the same time, it's always nice to be compared favorably to any other show. I'll definitely take those comparisons to S.H.I.E.L.D. My hope is that the people who have enjoyed S.H.I.E.L.D. will enjoy Arrow and the people who enjoy Arrow will check out S.H.I.E.L.D.
ComicBook.com: When you guys came on the air, the immediate reference point was always Smallville. Now, though, you're looking at the potential of being on the air for season three or four and there will be a half-dozen Marvel and DC shows at tree or four networks. Is it a different feeling to be the tip of the spear on something like that?
Guggenheim: If anything, it's just nice. I think television, and network television in particular, is very much an exercise in, if something is successful one season, you see five different versions of it the next season. I'm actually really glad that we are the tip of the spear and quite frankly I'm just enjoying the attention that the show is getting. The fact that there are similar shows either coming out this year or in development for further seasons, I think it only helps Arrow, quite frankly. I doni't feel any pressure as a result of it. Truth be told, the pressure of just doing the shwo is enough. We have an incredibly high standard of quality with the show.
You'd be amazed at the stuff that we go back and reshoot. We reshoot stuff that most shows would not. Most shows would say, "Okay, that's good enough." We constantly are making the episodes as good as they possibly can be. Every time we do an episode, it's like a mini-movie and there's a huge amount of pressure involved with any individual episode--much more so than any other show I've ever worked on. A lot of times you'll work on a show and it's like, "Alright, we didn't get it right this episode; we'll get it right next episode." With this show, it's like, nope--we're getting it right this episode. We're going to keep going back to the editing room, going back to reshoot and whatever we need to do to get each episode right. Bottom line, to get back to your question, we feel that pressure independent of any other shows that are out there. My hope is just that all those shows come out and all those shows are received well because a rising tide really does lift all boats.
Guggenheim: It's a great question. I'm involved as a producer on Arrow, but at the same time I'm very respectful of the fact that, liek you said, it's Andrew's baby and Greg Berlanti and Geoff Johns. They've been very generous in terms of inviting me to kind of chime in with notes, which I do honestly in the most limited way possible. For the most part, my notes really are related to the Arrow of it all and less the Barry Allen of it all. I want them to be able ot craft their version of the character and I'm watching more as an interested fan than anything else.
ComicBook.com: The urban crime element of Arrow makes it a little easier to make each episode cinematic, I think. Do you have to reconsider the way you shoot a little to accommodate more and more DC characters and, now, super powers?
Guggenheim: You know, not really. The funny thing is that even the show is sort of quote-unquote gritty, we actually use very little handheld camera work on the show. We're filming the first Barry Allen episode now and not only have we maintained our sort of cinematic style but the show has found a new gear visually. I think one of the things that people don't recognize is and one of the reasons that contributed to the fact that episodes continued to get better and better throughout season one is our directors of photography, Glen Winter and Gord Verheul. They just continued to up their game and the show already started out with huge scope and a great look but it felt like with each episode, both guys just continued to find new and cool ways to shoot the show and it's just continued into season two.