Home » LEGENDS OF TOMORROW and ARROW Post-Mortem: Interview With Executive Producer Marc Guggenheim
It was quite a week for the DC world living on The CW. With new characters on both ARROW and LEGENDS OF TOMORROW, there’s a lot to wonder. Luckily, we had the chance to sit down with executive producer Marc Guggenheim to break it all down.
Can you tease a little bit how Rory (Joe Dinicol) might react to learning the truth about Felicity (Emilt Bett Rickards) and Haven Rock?
MARC: I feel he’s got a very human reaction. I think he reacts to it the way I think you might expect him to, but not in this over blown kind of way. I think it’s very grounded and very human. We talked a lot about that storyline and sort of Rory’s point of view, and Felicity’s point of view. It’s funny, I will say a lot of times you write something, you do a story line and it has the … Not the opposite, but very different reaction than the one you expected. I think we were all taken aback not in a bad way, but just surprised there was so much sort of outrage over Felicity’s actions in 421. That people were upset at Felicity somehow for saving Monument Point at the expense of Haven Rock. It was fun to actually get a chance to articulate the anti-Felicity point of view and the pro-Felicity point of view. It made for a very interesting moral dilemma. We actually got to play with that.
When you introduced Hourman (Patrick J. Adams) on LEGENDS OF TOMORROW, did you know that you’d be erasing him from the timeline so early on?
MARC: When we introduced Hourman, we actually had a whole bunch of different potential scenarios. I think that’s one of the things with time-travel show is you almost have to go through more permutations of the story than even is normal, because of the time-travel element. That was always one of the notions. One of the things we talked a lot about was at what point do we show the audience the moments just after the end of 116. We had a version of 201 that actually had the flashback that you saw in 202, we decided to move it into 202, and shoot it as part of 202. We talked a lot about just how we were going to reveal the information. All the different ways we could deal with the ramifications of 116. We had a lot of different notions that were fighting their way to prominence in the writers room, and this is obviously the one that we went with.
Can you talk about how you’re going to keep including, if you are, the Justice Society? The LEGENDS can’t just keep going back to 1942 all the time.
MARC: You’re absolutely correct. I don’t want to spoil too much. I would say I will say that we do go back to 1987, and we’ll meet a much older version of Obsidian, who’s going to be played by Lance [Hendrickson]. That’s one way, and then we have another device up our sleeves that I don’t want to spoil because it deals with stuff that is pathology based in the back half of the year.
We do know that Vixen (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) is going to be sticking around. Anything you can say about how that might come to be based on how this episode ends?
MARC: Basically, we’ll deal with it very directly in episode 203. We pretty much pick up 203 facing that issue head-on. I think you have a clue to it in Rex’s final words to her. That will I think … I think if you’re Vixen and you’ve got Rex Tyler (Patrick J. Adams) dying in your arms, and you hear the words time-traveler, who would you think was responsible?
What was fun about the production design element, of creating the JSA headquarters? There were a few little “Easter eggs” stashed throughout. Can you talk about some of the stuff you stuck in there?
MARC: I pulled a lot of comic reference for the art department. I really wanted it to have that sort of brown stone look, full of trophies. Like, at the top of my list was, there’s got to be a table with the Justice Society Emblem on it. As far as the various different easter eggs, those were actually all the brain children of the art department and the set dressers. Sometimes, I’ll specifically call out like, “Oh I’d really love to X, Y, or Z in there.” But, didn’t do that in this case. I think they did an amazing job, and that was a real location that we brought in set dressing for. We didn’t build that as a set.
The costumes of the Justice Society, since this is a team obviously in the 40s, is there even more of a freedom to do some maybe closer to accurate costumes, of like Stargirl? If it was a 2016, maybe you couldn’t get away with it?
MARC: I’ll say this… This was obviously the beginning of the season, and Maya Mani, who is our superhero costume designer across all the show was busy building all the new suits for not just LEGENDS, but FLASH and ARROW as well. So, Vicky Mulholland, our costume designer on LEGENDS, she took the lead on Dr. Mid-Nite (Kwesi Ameyaw), Obsidian (Lance Heinrickson) and Stargirl (Sarah Grey). That was new for us. I think, yeah, we felt a certain amount of leeway. It also depends upon the costume, I think Stargirl’s costume is just … It’s so iconic, but also so easily adaptable. It’s a different kind of costume than say Dr. Mid-Nite or Obsidian where you may need to take a bit more license to translate it to live action. There’s some costumes that are very easy to translate, like Wild Dog (Rick Gonzalez). Then there’s other costumes that require a little more work and it totally depends upon the nature of the design.
Will the team take a more active role in trying to find Rip? They seem sort of like, “Oh, hopefully we’ll bump into him at some point.”
MARC: Yeah, that’s going to be something that’s always going on in the background, and in some cases, the foreground. To a certain extent, it’s that we don’t want to change the mission statement from, “Fixing aberrations to going and saving Rip.” The bat has sort of been taken out of their hands in the sense that, “Well, there’s no way to find Rip.” So, what would they do? Even if they said like, “Okay, this is priority number one, is finding Rip.” I don’t know how they would go about it given the nature of Rip’s disappearance.
You make it sound like we might not see Rip for awhile either, or are we going to know where he is before the LEGENDS do?
MARC: You will find out before the LEGENDS do.
Will we see John (David Ramsey) and Lyla’s (Audrey Marie Anderson) reaction to “this guy in Central City is running back in time and blinking our child out of existence and replacing him with another”?
MARC: I always say that on ARROW, there’s no secret that doesn’t eventually get discovered.
We got to meet Adrian Chase (Josh Segarra), who we assume is going to end up in costume at some point. Can you give us some hints as to how his story is going to move forward, especially in context with all these other new super characters that are in the city?
MARC: I think probably 507 gives you the… it’s where we show our cards the most, I think, in terms of Adrian’s character. I think what’s kind of fun about the way we’re writing Adrian, and the way we’re portraying Josh’s character, is we’re writing with the knowledge that the audience has a certain amount of comic book knowledge. Again, if they don’t, if you’re not a comic book fan, it’ll just fly over your head, and that’s totally fine. It’s like an adult joke in a Pixar movie.
As far as the flashbacks are concerned, is the plan to get Oliver (Stephen Amell) back to the place he was in the pilot episode by the end of this season?
Can you talk about or tease how Oliver is going to react to Lyla’s plan to break Dig out of prison, especially considering how he just told her to stop saving him?
MARC: It’s funny, I actually think Oliver and Felicity both have interesting reactions, and they’re not necessarily on the same page. Let’s put it that way. They don’t see eye-to-eye on Lyla’s plan.
Can you talk about Nate’s (Nick Zano) powers? Obviously he’s getting them at the end of this episode, but can you say how unpredictable they might be, because it seems like it was a little bit of a rush job for Ray (Brandon Routh) to create this?
MARC: Yeah, I think one of the reasons why we wanted to bring the character of Nate into the show was we wanted to play with something that FLASH got a chance to really play with in Season 1, which is the fun of telling an origin story for a hero. In the evolution of a hero there are all these sort of fun seminal moments that we want to put our own LEGENDS spin on. Part of that is discovering you have powers. Part of it is learning how to control those powers. Part of it the first time you go out in costume, the first time you fail. All these different … First time you realize you have a weakness. We want to be able to tell all those different kinds of stories. You can safely assume that the reason we brought in Nate was so that we can tell those kinds of stories. Including, the unpredictable nature of his powers. I think the next episode, 203, really sort of shows how difficult it is for Nate to get his powers under control.
In this week’s episodes we re-met two of Legion of Doom characters announced at Comic-Con, anything you can say about how the other two members might come in and when?
MARC: We’re going to see Malcolm [Merlyn] join the Legion in episode 208, which is our mid-season finale.
Can you talk a little bit more about Sara (Caity Lotz) kind of taking this leadership role?
MARC: I have to say, you know, there’s … It’s funny, sometimes you come up with character journeys for the season, and sometimes they work out better than you ever expected and there’s other times they’re worse than you ever expected. I got to give a lot props to Caity Lotz. As you start to see her become more and more comfortable with being the leader of this rag-tag group, it’s so much fun to watch her. The character’s embodying the role of a leader. Caity’s performance really embraces it. I think it turns out to be one of the most successful things that we’ve done in Season 2. I’m super excited about it.
Last week, we spoke a little bit with Andrew [Kreisberg] about the four-way cross over that’s happening this year. He didn’t give a lot of detail, but I’m just curious what you can tease about it. The most important thing being how are we getting SUPERGIRL into the ARROW-verse?
MARC: I think I can say it because I don’t think it’s that shocking. Last year, SUPERGIRL established that FLASH was able to make his way to, what I call, Earth-CBS. It stands to reason that with the proper breach technology, the reverse can happen. Once the heroes realize they’re up against aliens, they decide that they need an alien on their side, and fortunately Barry (Grant Gustin) knows a really nice one. It’s really… I don’t think it’s a big shock that between Barry and Cisco (Carlos Valdez), and all their experiences with her too, in the multi-verse, that they can pluck her from Earth- CBS.
The ARROW episode, meanwhile, between the name of the drug being Stardust and the line about the hockey mask had lots of in jokes as well. Is there stuff where you just have to do it, like we have to give a nod to this?
MARC: Oh yeah, I mean, the case of Stardust, I’m like, “It’s got to be called Stardust.” With the hockey mask, I just said to the writers like, “If we don’t do some hockey mask jokes, then it’s a missed opportunity and we should all be fired.” That stuff is fun, I mean, I love doing meta-humor as long as it don’t become too distracting and it’s sort of subtle. Again, I sort of use that Pixar thing, which is if you know who Cody [Rhodes] is and you know his wrestling identity is Stardust, then you get a little charge out of that. If you don’t, the episode plays totally fine and … It’s kind of like when we had Steve Aoki on ARROW, in Season one, it’s like, “I had no idea who Steve Aoki was, I could watch the episode perfectly fine, but if you know who Steve Aoki is it’s fun to watch him in Verdant.”
What did Cody think of the Stardust thing?
MARC: You know, actually we talked to him about it because we wanted to make sure he was comfortable with everything. Cody was amazing. He’s a joy to work with. I think, you know, everyone … I mean, I leave you guys to your own opinions, but I think people who go into this episode expecting to see a professional wrestler in an acting role are going to be really blown away by the quality of his acting. I think he really holds the screen incredibly well. He’s charismatic and enormous amount of fun. I was very pleased with the fact that he was willing to come and play. Having that throw down between his character and Steven’s character, it’s just … It’s art repeating life. Life-ish.
So far, Prometheus is kind of more on Tobias Church’s (Chad Coleman) radar and the police’s. Can you tell us about when he’ll become more of a threat, and how, to Oliver and the team?
MARC: I would say that’s probably… 506 is when I think things really start to kick into a higher gear. It’s a 23 episode season, and if every episode… This is true for all the shows, especially when you’ve got a big bad that’s being introduced in the first episode. It’s like, “How do you strike that balance between it becoming the Prometheus show and becoming incredibly repetitive, and teasing it out and…” 506 felt very right to us because 505 feels like the end of a chapter as it often is on ARROW. 506 kicks things into another gear.
We saw Curtis (Echo Kellum) sitting up in this episode, is this officially him being Mr. Terrific or do we still have a little bit more to see on his journey?
MARC: I think he’s still got a ways to go on his journey. For one thing, that’s not the final costume. We decided to sort of give some of the recruits what we call proto-costumes. It’s sort of like you’ve got to earn the final one. As I’ve been saying from jump, and I think as Oliver likes to say, in terms of all these characters becoming or being vigilantes, Curtis has the farthest to go. I think the evolution of Curtis from comedic, comic relief, and sidekick to butt-kicking super hero, that’s a big throw in my opinion. The only way, I think, to do it properly is to watch him try and watch him fail. Then watch him fail. Then watch him fail. It’s going to be a real struggle for him as we go through the fifth season.
It seemed like the rest of the team was more or less protecting him so he could stop the drug from being created. Is there going to be some resentment along the way about how much they have to look after him?
MARC: No, not really. We’re not really … I don’t think we’ve chosen to tell that story yet, let’s put it that way.
It seems like Paul (Chenier Hundal) is not aware of what his husband is doing in his free-time. Will we see sort of that unfold when he’s putting his life on the line every night instead of going home?
MARC: Yes, absolutely. We’re definitely, definitely going to be telling that story. Not going to tell you when.
What can you say about Quentin’s (Paul Blackthorne) path now that he’s the Deputy Mayor? Where will we see that for him?
MARC: It’s not an easy one. It’s definitely not an easy one. I think Thea’s (Willa Holland) decision to make him Deputy Mayor … It’s very noble on her part, but it’s also very naïve given the amount of demons that Quentin is wrestling with. It’s not going to be as simple as, “Oh, you’ve got a new job title.” It’s going to be … It’s going to get a lot harder before it gets easier. It’s ARROW, so it probably stands to reason.
What were the challenges of approaching the 100th episode, it being a milestone, and the crossover happening at the same time, and kind of honoring everything that you wanted to do in that?
MARC: Well, that was really the challenge. The challenge was we’ve only got 42 minutes and it’s the middle part of a 3-part story. At the same time it’s the 100th episode, and I mean when the news broke that the 100th episode was also going to be the crossover episode — people were up and down. My Twitter and Greg’s Twitter — I think in this case a very positive way — people didn’t want to feel like the crossover was high-jacking what should be a really seminal episode and a seminal moment for the show ARROW, which I think is wonderful. I think Greg came up with an idea … I don’t want to spoil it, but Greg came up with an idea that really does allow us to have our cake and eat it too. I haven’t seen the episode all cut together yet, but it has some incredibly iconic moments. It is a love letter to the show. It draws on all previous 99 episodes pretty much. Everyone who we could have in the episode, from a scheduling point of view, is in the episode. Even the people who we couldn’t have because of conflicting schedules are represented. A the same time, you got FLASH and SUPERGIRL and that’s an enormous amount of fun. I think certainly the recruits also play a very large and important role in the episode. I’m really excited about it. There’s one moment in it that I think is probably Steven’s (Amell’s) finest performance to-date. This one scene, that really has two moments within the one scene, that is just … It will break your heart. It will take your heart and pull it out, and stomp it the floor. It’s very, very affecting and it’s all on Steven’s back. It’s incredible. Will is amazing in the episode. Everyone obviously brought their A-game to it, but I’m really really excited about it. It’s the 100th episode.
Could you clarify… every time you guys talk about the crossover you say it’s a three-part?
We do have four shows…
MARC: Yes. There’s going to be an episode of SUPERGIRL that ends with SUPERGIRL going over to the crossover. Some people call it a four-way crossover because it involves four shows. My ulcer requires me to call it a three-part crossover. The story being told has a beginning, middle and end. It’s a beginning in FLASH, a middle in ARROW and an end in LEGENDS. SUPERGIRL is very much a part of the whole thing, so we are crossing over four shows; four shows and three parts. How’s that sound?
It technically kicks off in SUPERGIRL?
Back over the summer, some of the actors signed these complex overall deals that allowed them to transition between the shows freely. Have you find yourself wanting to utilize that tool, since it’s available to you more now?
MARC: Yes and no. I want to take your question and sort of reverse it. We did it to make our lives easier, not to give us another box to check off. I think it’s very helpful, like in the case of Katie Cassidy, we have stories for her that work in LEGENDS. A way for her to appear on FLASH. It’s great to have that flexibility and that story telling ability. Same thing with John Barrowman and Wentworth Miller’s characters, particularly since John and Wentworth play two members of the Legion of Doom. For us, it’s about freeing ourselves up, not obligating ourselves more, if that makes sense.
We haven’t seen all of those people yet, in the shows. When can we look forward to seeing them?
MARC: You’ll see John in LEGENDS 208. Fuck it, I’ll break it, you’ll also see John in ARROW 508, which is the 100th episode. You’ll also see Neal McDonough back as Damien Darhk in the 100th episode. You’ll see Wentworth Miller back also in the LEGENDS mid-season finale. [Laughs] I feel like that’s enough. I’ve spoiled enough stuff. I got to hold something back!
To see how the spectacular 4-part crossover unfolds and where are the new characters and returning characters will pop up in the midst of it, be sure to keep a watchful eye on SUPERGIRL on Monday nights at 8:00 p.m., THE FLASH on Tuesday nights at at 8:00 p.m., ARROW on Wednesday nights at at 8:00 p.m., and LEGENDS OF TOMORROW on Thursday nights at at 8:00 p.m., all on the CW.
Merrill is a big fan of TV, and when we say big, we mean BIG. If it's a scripted show, he's seen it. If it's a reality show... well he's still probably seen it at least once. Merrill lives for the small screen, and loves himself a bowl of popcorn and Netflix marathon on those warm Los Angeles nights. He also has a pension for web videos, but that's a discussion for another day.