10 Things We Learned About Arrow, The Flash and Supergirl At TCA

The CW
The Flash and Arrow on The CW

For the last week I’ve been at the Television Critics Association winter press tour, and I’ll compile my twice-annual list of the 10 nerdiest moments from TCA. However, when the CW put on a joint panel for The Flash and Arrow, I couldn’t wait to write about it. 16 people sat in two rows on the stage, including the Prison Break reunion of Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell as Captain Cold and Heat Wave, Victor Garber and Robbie Amell sitting in separate chairs, Brandon Routh representing what you already now know as a potential Atom spinoff, and Matt Nable representing Arrow‘s Ra’s al Ghul. The leads of both shows were there, including Katie Cassidy, Grant Gustin, Tom Cavanagh and John Barrowman, but as you can imagine, not everybody had breaking news to reveal.

I focused on Arrow producer Andrew Kreisberg and star Stephen Amell, who I approached after the panel to get extra scoops. The next morning was also CBS’ executive session with Nina Tassler, so I got a Supergirl scoop from her too.

Spoilers for this season on Arrow! The midseason finale left Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) falling off a cliff after his duel with Ra’s (Nable). The Flash has everyone thinking Harrison Wells (Cavanagh) is the series’ reverse flash, even though pretty much everyone but Wells has been a Reverse-Flash in the comics. We got some answers before The Flash‘s return on Jan. 20 and Arrow‘s return Jan 21.

10. Oliver Queen Will Be Back.

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Oliver Queen’s final battle on Arrow

??I don’t think anybody expects Arrow will be retitled Starling City Adventures without Stephen Amell. If Marvel has taught us anything, it’s that nobody really dies. At least DC is being honest about it. Kreisberg told us Amell is still working, but remember, there are flashbacks on Arrow.

??”He didn’t have that much time off that sort of suggests that he’s not a part of these episodes,” Kreisberg said. “I just think the way in which he is a part of them isn’t quite what people are expecting.”??For his part, Amell suggested there are many, many ways Oliver could return, but he wouldn’t spoil it. “We just saw him fall,” Amell said. “We’ve seen Oliver survive so whether he went straight off the cliff, whether something broke his fall, whether he hit the ground. You know, we have mystical herbs on the show that have healing powers. We’ve seen a Lazarus pit although that’s not something that’s going to be used for Oliver. I hope he survives. I like playing him.”

9. Harrison Wells is Definitely Reverse Flash.

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Tom Cavanagh as Harrison Wells on The Flash

The Flash has been playing coy with Reverse-Flash. Harrison Wells has newspapers from the future, and Reverse-Flash comes from the future, but they haven’t said it’s Wells yet. Then the photo montage for TCA shows Cavanagh and a yellow suit. So that means he’s Reverse-Flash, right?

“Yes, I am Reverse-Flash,” Cavanagh said after a bit of prodding. The producers wouldn’t comment further, leaving Cavanagh on the line.

“I think he’s doing a great job,” Kreisberg said when asked to comment on Cavanagh’s statement. “That was close. That was really close. Closer than I thought.”

8. Eddie Thawne Is Still…. Somebody.

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Eddie Thawne faces Reverse-Flash on The Flash

??Rick Cosnett plays Eddie Thawne on The Flash, fiance of Barry Allen’s lifelong love Iris (Candice Patton), partner of Joe West and bearing a name strikingly similar to Eobard Thawne. Eobard was Professor Zoom in the ’60s Flash comics so he was my pick for a Reverse-Flash Easter egg in the pilot. And I was totally wrong.

“Rick Cosnett very amazingly plays Eddie Thawne and his name is not an accident,” Kreisberg said on the panel. “We’ve been really blessed with The Flash that so many of the sort of plans that we had sort of set up early on, you do that. You know, you have a plan, and sometimes it pays off, and sometimes it doesn’t. But a lot of things seemed to have really worked out. And Eddie’s connection to the Reverse-Flash lore is going to pay off big time in the back half of the year.”

7. Episode 14 of Arrow Is A Big Payoff.

We’ve seen nine episodes of Arrow so far this season, and there’s a lot to keep up with. The League of Assassins, Ray Palmer’s takeover of Queen Consolidated, Laurel looking for Sarah’s killer and keeping it a secret from her dad but telling her mom when she came to visit, etc. Amell tells us that we only have five episodes to go for everything to come together.

“I have incredibly high hopes for our 14th episode this year,” Amell said after the panel. “I think that if you’re a fan of the show and have been a fan of the show from the beginning, and have been paying attention, you’re really going to enjoy that episode.”

All right, I did the math. That means February 18 we get Episode 14, as long as there are no more hiatuses.

6. Nolan/Neeson Set the Bar For Ra’s al Ghul.

I’ll admit, I did not know Ra’s al Ghul until he was in Batman Begins. Spoiler for 2005’s Batman Begins, and its threequel The Dark Knight Rises, but Liam Neeson played him in the movies. That made me more excited to see Matt Nable play this League of Shadows’ Ra’s, but Kreisberg told me it scared him a little.

“I think in some ways it made it a little bit more challenging because obviously Christopher Nolan and Jonah Nolan and David Goyer and Liam Neeson are the gold standard of comic book adaptations,” Kreisberg said after the panel. ?”To take on a character that lives so presently in people’s minds, we feel like we had a lot of people to convince, but we’re in love with Matt. You watch that episode nine and he is Ra’s al Ghul.”

The point was to deliver a new twist on Ra’s so that Nable he could join the list of memorables, not replace anyone else. “That’s one of the great things about all these characters,” Kreisberg continued. “Michael Keaton was a great Batman but so was Adam West and so was Christian Bale and Ben Affleck will be. The young boy who plays him on Gotham is another great iteration of Bruce Wayne. These characters are meant to be played by different people in different iterations and everybody brings something different to it. That’s really the fun for us as writers. People have an expectation for who this character is. What can we do to defy that expectation? What can we do that’s different? Hopefully we’ve done that with Matt and with Ra’s.”

Now about Ra’s being over 67 years old? He said it’s been 67 years since his last fight, so let’s assume he was at least in his 20s when he was fighting. “I think the key to Ra’s’ longevity will be explored, but we want to keep surprises in store,” Kreisberg said.

5. Metahumans Are Coming To Arrow.

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Katie Cassidy as Black Canary on Arrow

Credit where credit is due: Roth Cornet of IGN asked this questions of Kreisberg after the panel. Sara left Dinah her Canary jacket, and the TCA reel showed clips of Katie Cassidy suited up as Black Canary kicking ass. Cornet asked if we’d hear the Canary Cry, which was a pretty smart question. While The Flash exists in Arrow‘s world because, uh, science, the Canary’s Cry power came from either genetic mutation or wizard’s curse, depending on whether you read New Earth or Silver Age.

“The Canary Cry is going to happen but it’s going to happen in a slightly different way than people are expecting, as always,” Kreisberg said. “Trust me, it’ll be cool. I think, like last year introducing the Mirakuru, we always said it was sort of a gateway superpower. If you can accept that, then when Flash came along, it wasn’t like you were going from zero to, oh my God, there are people with powers.”

It’s official. Metahumans ain’t just for Central City anymore. “I think you saw that Arrow functioned very well on Flash in the crossover and vice versa,” Kreisberg said. “I think as the shows continue on, through the back half of this season and certainly into seasons of two of Flash and season four of Arrow, you’ll begin to see a little bit more powers in the Arrow universe and a little bit more grounded heroes in the Flash universe.”

4. Felicity And Diggle Will Not Put On Costumes.

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Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak on Arrow

If you like all the new superheroes coming out on Arrow, great! If you think there are too many now, don’t worry. Kreisberg held firm that some characters would never become superheroes, or even costumed vigilantes like Arrow.

“If everybody dresses up, you lose that connection to reality,” Kreisberg said. “One of the things that Dig and Felicity do so well, in spite of the fact that they’re incredibly talented, obviously they’re integral members of the team and Oliver couldn’t do what he does without them. They don’t have costume personas and I think that keeps them grounded and it helps keep Oliver grounded and keeps the show grounded. For Felicity, she’s every bit the hero everyone else is. She certainly has thrown herself into danger at times. They couldn’t do what they do without her leading the team from her computer console but I don’t think right now there’s any plans to suit her up. I think that that’s not really her role.”

3. Deathstroke Is Back, and Not a Flashback.

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Manu Bennett as Slade Wilson/Deathstroke

The last time we saw Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett), he was in an A.R.G.U.S. prison. Bennett is slated to appear in that key episode 14 Stephen Amell was telling us about. Kreisberg assured us this was not some kind of flashback cheat. Deathstroke is back to fulfill his vow for revenge at the end of season two.

“Slade is definitely in the present day,” Kreisberg said. “Not that he’s ever happy, but he’s particularly unhappy, so when he comes back he’s out for blood.”

So there’s one of the payoffs Amell promised.

2. CBS’s Supergirl Will Be Flawed and Human

DC Comics
Supergirl New 52

CBS is doing a Supergirl series co-produced by Greg Berlanti. After her executive panel, CBS chair Nina Tassler said she doesn’t want to have Supergirl crossover with Arrow and The Flash because she wants to keep her to herself. Here’s what she said about the new Supergirl show.

“There’s a human drama there,” Tassler said. “There are so many superhero characters portrayed in films, but I think we’re watching an evolution with regard to the way superhero characters are portrayed. There’s a humanity. They are flawed. There’s a relatability and I think for our network right now, what we did respond to was the character’s humanity, the other characters in the show as well, the story trajectory and the character’s arc and growth. These are all things that made her just eminently relatable and made the story exciting, made it an adventure and made her incredibility appealing. We made the decision based on the pitch that we heard.”

1. Stephen Amell Is Cool With Movie Flash And TV Flash.

In October last year, DC announced their movie slate which included a new Flash movie starring Ezra Miller. That same month, The CW’s The Flash premiered on TV starring Grant Gustin. A month later, Amell criticized DC for announcing a new Flash when their current Flash was just premiering. That AMC Movie News video interview was reported my many sites such as io9, and Amell did post on Facebook that he wasn’t angry.

After the TCA panel, I followed up with Amell and found out he actually likes DC keeping the movie and TV universes separate. “I was always at peace with the idea,” Amell said. “I was disappointed at the timing of the announcement. It’s not about whether or not I support Grant in the movies or me in the movies or any of these characters in the movies. It was more just about I just thought the timing of the announcement was bad. I wasn’t mad per se. I’ve spoken a lot with DC people about how having a separate universe and focusing on each of those spots being the best that they can be is just as advantageous or possibly more so as having to focus and worry about constantly crossbreeding everything and cross pollinating everything. So I feel fine about it.”

Some people are even getting over the whole Marvel Universe where every single show or movie is connected, so now you’ll have the alternative for DC with separate TV and film universes. See which one you like better. “A lot of people have said, ‘Well, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a good show but boy, they are just sort of tied to the films.’ Sometimes it can be a hindrance so I like our position.”

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