SDCC 2014: RA'S AL GHUL To Be ARROW's Season 3 Main Villain

Colton Haynes as Arsenal for 'Arrow.'
Credit: Entertainment Weekly

Update 2: At Saturday evening's "Warner Bros. Television presents A Night of DC Entertainment" at Comic-Con, the producers of the CW's Arrow revealed that Ra's al Ghul will be the main reoccurring villain of the drama's third season. Casting for the role in underway but the character is expected to debut early in the season. 

Arrow has been planting seeds for Ra's role since season 1 and according to executive producer Marc Guggenheim, the show's writers and producers have found a unique spin on the long-time Batman villain.

"We have a really clever way of doing Ra's this year that is true to the comic-book origins but different from the way Ra's was portrayed in the Nolan movies. You don't want to compete with Batman Begins, even though we've always saidBatman Begins was a big influence on us," he says. "We really wanted our Ra's to be very different — at least our own Arrow-ified version."

Update 1: How about an Arrow Season 3 First Look trailer:

Original story: The cast and crew of Arrow came to Comic-Con International: San Diego for the first of a few panels at the convention, ready to let some secrets of season 3 loose.

Brett Brown from The CW publicity welcomed fans to the Season 3 Arrow panel, announcing it's the "most watched show" on the network for the second season in a row.

"Two years ago we introduced the Comic-Con crowd to the vigilante Oliver Queen, but the Arrow we know now is a hero. The cast and crew are backstage ready to reveal all their season 3 secrets with you - well maybe not all, but you'll eave today knowing things you didn't when you walked in."

Before the panelists took the stage, The CW presented special footage just for the Comic-Con audience. It started with some recapping, showing some of the best moments of Season 2. "A man cannot live by two names." We meet Ray Palmer, see Diggle yelling at Ollie. Canary back in Starling in costume. Oliver asking Felicity out to dinner! Hong Kong flashbacks. Roy in action in the full Arsenal costume. Felicity severely hurt. And the return of "You have failed this city!"

Huge pop for the footage. TV Guide's Damian Holbrook introduced the panelists: Andrew Kreisberg, Marc Guggenheim, Paul Blackthorne, John Barrowman, Willa Holland, Stephen Amell, Colton Haynes, David Ramsey, and Greg Berlanti.

Holbrook asked if Season 2 was planned from the beginning, or if it had many changes throughout. "Many of the things we did we had discussed casually as far back as the pilot," Kreisberg revealed. That includes Oliver waking up in Hong Kong at the very end.

Getting John Barrowman back was great, said Kreisberg. "We were always planning leading up to John being a regular in Season 3."

Season 2's happy ending was meant to surprise people in Season 2. "We thought that would really shock people." So Season 3? "It's about 'what price, victory?' Right now everything is coming up Arrow, and as Joss Whedon says, when one of your characters is happiest, you have to yank it away!"

Stephen Amell says he has "waited my entire life for an opportunity like this. I remember sitting in this Ballroom two years ago and making a promise that we'd work really hard and the show wasn't going to suck. It sounds really simple, but that's what drives us every day."

Amell praised the writers for the opportunities they give him to do more dramatic work.

Haynes said that he and Willa "Kind of hit it off right away." Willa, "One of our first scenes we filled was our first kiss scene, it was one of my favorite scenes to film!"

Is daughter like father?

"I mean, I was just having this conversation. Thea is going through some stuff, and I've had to start hitting the gym a little bit! She's definitely made a big change. There's no more Vertigo, dancing on table tops Thea. The Thea that you saw in Seasons 1 and 2 is not the one you see in Season 3," Holland teased.

Ramsey is ready to tackle being, "Daddy Diggle." How will it change him? "A lot of dramatic tension. He has a child, and the stakes get higher. Does he stay with the team? Does he leave?"

Amell cut in, "The scene you saw in the trailer where he's yelling at me and whipping his massive arms? It was almost impossible not to flinch!"

Barrowman was next, and was "just saying to Andrew as we were talking backstage. I literally just flew in from London, the Producers have been really good about letting me finish the stuff I had going there. So I haven't actually read the scripts yet. Tonight I'm going to be in my hotel room going, 'NO WAY! Are you Kidding?!' That's one of the thrills of episodic television, is not knowing until the script comes out. It's much more fun, it's so spontaneous that way."

Blackthorne said, "The chest pains brought me down, but I'm here at this panel." He's wearing a Captain's hat in the footage we saw.

Episode 1x08 of the Flash and Episode 3x08 of Arrow will be a two-hour crossover event (big applause). "We'll be seeing people from both shows crossing over, so everyone will be getting a taste of each other - that sounded bad."

Anyone in particular you want to work with?

Amell, "Jesse Martin! I love Jesse Martin." Kreisberg, "Not Robbie Amell?" Amell, "Oh my god, Robbie Amell! I can't believe I didn't say that..."

Felicity will also be on The Flash 1x04.

Kreisberg said they were "very concious of who they decided to bring on" this season. They actually originally asked for Ted Kord, "but DC has other plans for him, so they said how about Ray Palmer? And we said that would work better!" But one thing fans ooed at... "He also has his eye on Felicity."

Okay, about Ollicity, the shipping of those two characters. They do go on an actual date. Berlanti said, "we really weren't trying to fake everyone out with his confession to her last season - so we'll deal with that directly."

Amell says, "Well there's been sexual tension there always, so now they finally go on a date!"

Roy Harper is now officially the sidekick. "I gotta tell you, it's really cool having the second nicest nicest suit on the show now," Amell said. "The dynamic between them brings out elements of the classic Oliver Queen character that we're building towards. There are unresolved issues for Roy going back to last season, though."

As for the other "sidekick" paradigm? Barrowman said, "Again, not knowing what's going to happen, I think that there's going to be some controlling; he's going to see how much he can gain control of Thea. I think he's going to go for the emotional side of how he can control her. Then who knows what will happen between Merlyn/Thea and Arrow/Arsenal. As me, John, the fan that has the DC Encyclopedia next to his bed, I'm really excited about that conflict."

The flashbacks, and the plan to bring him to Hong Kong, was planted as far back as S1E11. "We didn't just want another set of enemies to conveniently show up at the island for some convenient storytelling." Tommy Merlin will be back to show a flashback. "Of course Hong Kong is where Oliver will meet Katana, and we'll see Oliver's longer association with Amanda Waller."

Amell's glad to not go back to the forests of Vancouver for a bit to shoot Island scenes.

The Lance family "Soldiers on," Blackthorne said.

When we come back, people think that Thea is backpacking through Europe - but obviously she is not. How long will it be until we see her and Roy back in a scene together? Kreisberg just said, "it'll be worth the wait." Guggenheim said, "We'll play the rest of the scene out when she got into the Limo with Malcolm, and show you what was said there."

Ramsey loves the Suicide Squad story. "It's been really good how the audience has responded to that. But his heart is really in this, it's just as important to him. I don't think there's any chance of him deliberately leaving the team, but you never know..."

The increasingly less-Secret Identity of Oliver is not a problem to Kreisberg. "Certainly this season, Laurel's journey - which I think people are going to be excited about - is far more interesting and they can have a much better more honest conversations."

Any unlikely pairings coming (not necessarily romantic)? In short, yes, Kreisberg loves "pairing people who don't normally go together."

Going down the panel, they were asked to give their favorite scenes of the person next to them. Blackthorne joked that he always fast forwards through John's scenes, then said he loves when he gets to go across from him.

Barrowman said that the scene when "Willa shot me" is his favorite. "Willa is great in the scenes when there's some passion and intimacy behind them."

Willa said, "Stephen's in basically every scene so that's really difficult. But one of the first scenes we had together, when he had this line about how the Kardashians are getting more screen time than he is, I remember shooting that scene and it was really funny."

Stephen said, "I thought that Colton, you were phenomenal in that last scene between you and Willa in the finale last year. I thought it was like graduation for Roy."

Haynes, "Actually, Diggle has a scene in the trailer where he's kind of frustrated because having Roy really come into Team Arrow, Diggle gets kind of frustrated. It's a really emotional scene, and we got to see a big character moment for him. It was really awesome."

Ramsey said, "Paul's best is actually pretty easy - there was a great scene where he thinks he has an opportunity to be with his wife again, and he doesn't. You see it on his face like, 'oh I can be with you again!' and she's like, 'no boo-boo. I got a new man.' And you see it in his face."

Kreisberg praised everyone in the episode when Moira died, as well.

How do you top the Undertaking and the finale battle that we saw this season?

Kreisberg, "Yeah, we have some ideas..."

And then, the fan questions.

Q: Who are other superheroes you'd like to see get their own shows or appear on yours?

Kreisberg: "We've been really blessed, DC Comics has been so supportive of us. Adding Katana this year, Robbie Amell is playing Firestorm on the Flash... we've really gotten to bring on the people we want to bring on. We haven't had too many asks that we haven't received."

Q: If you were stranded on the island, who would you choose to be with you?

Ramsey: I would choose... uhhh... Stephen!

Stephen: I was gonna say Diggle too. ... Purely for survival!

Haynes: I would probably choose Thea "awwwwww!"

John: I would be on the island because I like him as a person and an actor with James MacAvoy (he didn't want to pick a person from the show).

Holland: Well I'd pick John Barrowman for sheer entertainment! Yeah. Papa Barrowman.

Blackthorne: "All I know is that one person I would not want to be on an island with is John Barrowman." I think that Nyssa al Ghul looks like a very practical woman. Practical. Looks like she can work her way around an island.

Q: Stephen, can you really shoot an arrow that well?

Amell: Yeah, I'm really good! People ask me all the time, who would win in a contest between Katniss and Hawkeye and... OF COURSE I would win! Shots fired!

Blackthorne confirmed that he's the real deal.

Q: Are we getting Felicity backstory?

Kreisberg: Ivo is not her father, to quash a rumor. We've known her backstory for a long time. One of the early episodes this season will be a flashback to Felicity and her time at MIT. And the title of the episode is "ORACLE."

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