10 Pointed Facts About Arrow

The CW
The CW

In 2012—more than a decade after Smallville had introduced the world to an adolescent Superman—Arrow brought a new brand of super heroics to The CW. Focusing on the adventures of Oliver Queen as the Green Arrow, the hooded vigilante from DC Comics, the show was originally conceived as a realistic superhero yarn in the same vein as 2005's Batman Begins. But since its second season in 2013, the series has changed course and expanded into the centerpiece of the network's colorful take on the DC Universe, featuring spin-offs like The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow.

Starring Stephen Amell as the emerald archer, Arrow is set to begin its sixth season this October. To get better acquainted with the story behind the Green Arrow, his ever-expanding supporting cast, and the other denizens of Star City, here are 10 facts about Arrow.

1. THE SHOW WAS INSPIRED BY THE DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY.

In the mid-2000s, the Green Arrow was languishing in Hollywood’s famed development hell along with the rest of the DC Universe, but he did come tantalizingly close to becoming a movie star. At one point, he was going to be the center of the DC movie Green Arrow: Escape From Super Max, which was to focus on a wrongfully incarcerated Oliver Queen’s struggle to break out from a prison designed to hold the world's most dangerous super villains. Though that idea never came to be, it was the success of the Caped Crusader that helped Green Arrow come to live-action.

Director Christopher Nolan’s grounded take on Batman’s origins was the perfect template for Arrow creators Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg to base their show on. Both stories star spoiled rich kids who turn themselves into hardened vigilantes, and they even share a grudge against the villainous Ra’s al Ghul. The comparisons are hard to ignore.

In an interview with The Huffington Post, Kreisberg explained why Nolan’s Batman was so important to them:

“We were heavily influenced, obviously, by Chris Nolan’s take on Batman, especially the second movie, The Dark Knight. If you pull Batman out of that movie you’re essentially left with Michael Mann’s Heat. It really is just a crime thriller. Truly, the only fantastical thing in it really is Batman. That’s the way we approached this material.”

In an interview with Comic Book Resources, Guggenheim stated that the show's first two years were covering similar ground to the origin story told in Batman Begins:

"This was always sort of the trajectory we planned. This has always been the first two years of Batman Begins."

2. THE FIRST SEASON TAKES NUMEROUS CUES FROM MIKE GRELL’S GREEN ARROW COMICS.

In the comics, the Green Arrow is more of a left-wing quipster than the brooding vigilante from the show. But his dour demeanor in Arrow does have some comic book inspiration, specifically from writer and artist Mike Grell’s take on the character.

In the ‘80s, Grell did everything he could do to make Green Arrow virtually unrecognizable to comic book fans. He took away the mask, put him in a hood, moved him to Seattle, and stripped him of all his gadgets and trick arrows. Just like in the early seasons of the show, he’s not even called “Green Arrow”; instead, he’s just a vigilante who goes after a more realistic crop of criminals like drug peddlers and human traffickers.

When asked about Grell’s influence on the show, more specifically the comic miniseries Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters, Guggenheim told Huffington Post:

“Yeah, well Longbow Hunters, it was seminal for several reasons. But what it really did was it grounded Green Arrow and Oliver Queen in a way that hadn’t been done in the comic books before. He was always with the boxing glove arrows and the Arrow Cave ... That was all well and good. But what Longbow Hunters did was it stripped Oliver Queen and the character down to his bare essence and introduced the idea of this primal hunter, and the hood [he wears]. That was sort of a seismic shift for the character that we’re working off of.”

3. OLIVER QUEEN’S MANSION HAS A SURPRISING SUPERHERO PEDIGREE.

The Queen family may live in a spacious mansion on the outskirts of Star City, but they’ve got some super-powered company in there with them. The show uses establishing shots of Hatley Castle in Victoria, British Columbia as the setting of the family’s home, and they’re far from the first comic book family to take up residence there. Most notably it’s used as Professor Xavier’s mansion in 1996’s Generation X, X2: X-Men United, X-Men: The Last Stand, and Deadpool; and for the Luthor family mansion in Smallville. It can also be seen in The Killing, The Boy, and The Descendants.

4. FELICITY SMOAK WAS ONLY SUPPOSED TO BE IN ONE EPISODE.


The CW

Emily Bett Rickards’s breakout role as Felicity Smoak on the show wasn’t planned to be anything more than a one-off. Rickards told Comic Book Resources that the character was originally written to be a "'possibly recurring' role,” which she admits rarely, if ever, actually happens.

But her performance impressed everyone so much that, going into season six, she’s one of the principal members of the cast, and the character has even been reintroduced into the comic books in recent years.

5. STEPHEN AMELL REALLY PERFORMED THE “SALMON LADDER” ON HIS OWN.

Stephen Amell gets into legitimate superhero shape for the role of Oliver Queen, and a lot of the training montages you see on the show are all him. This includes that dizzying “salmon ladder” routine he does in the pilot.

“It’s one of the most talked about moments in the pilot,” Guggenheim told The Huffington Post. And for good reason: The thing looks incredibly hard—even for a superhero. Amell does the whole workout for real, foregoing a harness in order to give the camera crew the freedom to shoot him however they want.

Amell has become such a salmon ladder master that he even performed it on American Ninja Warrior without a problem (easy for us to say).

6. ORIGINALLY, NO ONE WAS SUPPOSED TO HAVE SUPER POWERS.

Arrow was originally pitched to be completely free of the super powers, magic, and mysticism that have since become a regular part of the series. Leading up to the season one premiere, the words “grounded” and “realistic” were tossed around with impunity by the cast and crew during interviews.

“We tried to make him as real as possible. The character doesn’t have any superpowers. Nobody on the show has any superpowers,” Amell told IGN in preparation of the show’s first season.

Having annual team-ups with The Flash or Constantine would have been completely unthinkable; now they’re the norm. (Whether or not that’s a good thing we’ll leave to the message board crowd.)

7. THE ARROW FOLKS NEEDED CHRISTOPHER NOLAN’S PERMISSION TO BRING THE FLASH ONTO THE SHOW.

In the wake of his tremendously successful Dark Knight trilogy, there was a thought that Christopher Nolan would be the shepherd of anything DC-related at Warner Bros. It started with helping Batman Begins writer David Goyer successfully pitch Man of Steel to the studio, and for a time it even crossed over into the TV universe.

Nolan’s influence was so all-encompassing at one point that the production team at Arrow had to get the director’s approval to introduce The Flash and his subsequent super-powered world onto the show. During a Fan Expo Canada panel in 2013, Amell said:

“I will tell you this. I know that when I found out about Barry Allen appearing on the show, one of the executive producers told me for Barry Allen to appear on the show, we had to get approval all the way up to Christopher Nolan. Because he’s Christopher Nolan, and he’s the czar of all things Warner Bros. and DC. And he likes the show and approved of Barry Allen approving. So I would say that’s a very good sign.”

8. THE SERIES IS SOAKED IN DC COMIC BOOK REFERENCES.

Though the show initially tried to downplay its comic book roots, there were—and still are—plenty of Easter eggs for longtime fans to discover. In the pilot episode, artist Mike Grell provided the police sketch for Green Arrow—then just known as “The Vigilante.” And many of the streets and locations on the show are named after comic writers and artists, including the cross streets of Infantino and Adams (for artists Carmine Infantino and Neal Adams) and “Gail Street and Simone” for Birds of Prey writer Gail Simone.

Another constant Easter egg that you’ll now never be able to unsee is how often the show uses the number “52,” such as for fictional TV stations and Quentin Lance's call sign. It might sound odd, but that’s an important number in the DC Universe, as it’s the number of different multiverses in the company—each with its own alternate, and sometimes bizarre, version of Earth.

9. WILLA HOLLAND WAS DISCOVERED BY STEVEN SPIELBERG.


The CW

Willa Holland’s career started off about as well as anyone could ever dream: with a personal endorsement from Steven Spielberg. It all happened when Holland, who is the stepdaughter of director Brian De Palma, was over at Spielberg’s home.

Holland may have thought she was simply playing at a friend’s house while Spielberg was “filming little wedding scenes and doing home videos,” but when the famed director spoke to her parents later on, he said, “You’ve got to put her in front of a camera.”

Roles in The O.C. and Gossip Girl followed, but her big break came when she was cast as Thea Queen—Oliver’s sister—on Arrow.

10. AN ARCHERY EXPERT HELPS KEEP THE BOW ACTION AUTHENTIC.

To get the Green Arrow right, you need to start with the bow. Arrow employs an archery technician and coordinator named Patricia Gonsalves, who makes sure they get things right.

She works with anyone on the show who touches a bow—and there are a lot of them—and explained to Archery 360 that, “For safety reasons, the actors must have a lesson in safety before they can shoot a bow.” Usually that training lasts a couple hours, but for Amell, that meant two months of archery lessons.

In addition to hands-on work with all of the archer actors, Gonsalves also helps determine which bow fits each character best.

“I’ll get a first draft of the script for an episode and will form an idea of what bow will work for that character or episode. I’ll choose a few bows that will work for the character and then the production department makes the final choice.”

This Damn Fine Twin Peaks Box Set Is the Only One Fans Will Ever Need

Amazon
Amazon

Fans of David Lynch’s three-season drama Twin Peaks know there’s quite a lot to excavate. The series, which ran from 1990 to 1991 on ABC and returned for a one-season engagement on Showtime in 2017, has been a perpetual source of ambiguity, red herrings, and the downright inexplicable.

Now there’s a centralized hub of all things Peaks to dwell on. Twin Peaks: From Z to A is a Blu-ray box set containing all episodes of the original series; 1992’s feature film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me; 2017's Twin Peaks: The Return; an international version of the 1990 pilot with additional footage; as well as an abundance of new and archival material totaling 20 hours in length.

The box for the 'Twin Peaks: From Z to A' Blu-ray DVD set is pictured
Amazon

Inside the package, which is illustrated with the Douglas firs that are part of the show’s iconography, are mini-figures of Special Agent Dale Cooper and Laura Palmer, played in the show by Kyle MacLachlan and Sheryl Lee, respectively. The box acts as a diorama of sorts and opens to reveal the Red Room, a location where many of the show’s most surreal moments took place. A series of three-by-five index cards provide backdrops of key scenes. The only thing the set doesn’t have is Lynch’s hand-drawn map of the show’s Washington location, but you can find that here.

The set is limited to 25,000 copies. It retails for $139.99 on Amazon and is due for release on December 10.

[h/t Newsweek]

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Unraveling the Many Mysteries of Neil Diamond's 'Sweet Caroline'

Keystone/Getty Images
Keystone/Getty Images

The story of Neil Diamond’s "Sweet Caroline" has it all: love, baseball, Kennedys, Frank Sinatra, Elvis, and the triumph of the human spirit. It’s pop’s answer to the national anthem, and as any karaoke belter or Boston Red Sox fan will tell you, it’s way easier to sing than "The Star-Spangled Banner." As the song celebrates its 50th birthday this year, now’s a good time—so good, so good, so good—to dig into the rich history of a tune people will still be singing in 2069.

"Where it began, I can’t begin to knowing," Diamond sings in the song’s iconic opening lines. Except the "where" part of this story is actually pretty simple: Diamond wrote "Sweet Caroline" in a Memphis hotel room in 1969 on the eve of a recording session at American Sound Studio. By this point in his career, Diamond had established himself as a fairly well-known singer-songwriter with two top-10 hits—"Cherry Cherry" and "Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon"—to his name. He’d also written "I’m a Believer," which The Monkees took to #1 in late 1966.

 

The "who," as in the identity of the "Caroline" immortalized in the lyrics, is the much juicier question. In 2007, Diamond revealed that he was inspired to write the song by a photograph of Caroline Kennedy, daughter of John F. Kennedy, that he saw in a magazine in the early ‘60s, when he was a "young, broke songwriter."

"It was a picture of a little girl dressed to the nines in her riding gear, next to her pony," Diamond told the Associated Press. "It was such an innocent, wonderful picture, I immediately felt there was a song in there.” Years later, in that Memphis hotel room, the song was finally born.

Neil Diamond sings the National Anthem prior to Super Bowl XXI between the New York Giants and the Denver Broncos at the Rose Bowl on January 25, 1987 in Pasadena, California
George Rose/Getty Images

Perhaps because it’s a little creepy, Diamond kept that tidbit to himself for years and only broke the news after performing the song at Kennedy’s 50th birthday in 2007. "I’m happy to have gotten it off my chest and to have expressed it to Caroline," Diamond said. "I thought she might be embarrassed, but she seemed to be struck by it and really, really happy."

The plot thickened in 2014, however, as Diamond told the gang at NBC’s TODAY that the song is really about his first wife, Marsha. "I couldn’t get Marsha into the three-syllable name I needed,” Diamond said. "So I had Caroline Kennedy’s name from years ago in one of my books. I tried ‘Sweet Caroline,’ and that worked."

It certainly did. Released in 1969, "Sweet Caroline" rose to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. In the decade that followed, it was covered by Elvis Presley, soul great Bobby Womack, Roy Orbison, and Frank Sinatra. Diamond rates Ol’ Blue Eyes’ version the best of the bunch.

"He did it his way," Diamond told The Sunday Guardian in 2011. "He didn't cop my record at all. I've heard that song by a lot of people and there are a lot of good versions. But Sinatra's swingin', big-band version tops them all by far."

 

Another key question in the "Sweet Caroline" saga is "why"—why has the song become a staple at Fenway Park in Boston, a city with no discernible connection to Diamond, a native of Brooklyn?

It’s all because of a woman named Amy Tobey, who worked for the Sox via BCN Productions from 1998 to 2004. During those years, Tobey had the wicked awesome job of picking the music at Sox games. She noticed that "Sweet Caroline" was a crowd-pleaser, and like any good baseball fan, she soon developed a superstition. If the Sox were up, and Tobey thought they were going to win the game, she’d play the song somewhere in between the seventh and ninth innings.

"I actually considered it like a good luck charm," Tobey told The Boston Globe in 2005. "Even if they were just one run [ahead], I might still do it. It was just a feel." It became a regular thing in 2002, when Fenway’s new management asked Tobey to play "Sweet Caroline" during the eighth inning of every home game, regardless of the score.

At first, Tobey was worried that mandatory Diamond would lead to bad luck on the actual diamond. But that wasn’t the case, as the Sox won the World Series in 2004, ending the "Curse of the Bambino" and giving Beantown its first title since 1918. In 2010, Diamond made a surprise appearance at Fenway to perform "Sweet Caroline" during the Red Sox's season opener against the New York Yankees. He wore a Sox cap and a sports coat emblazoned with the message "Keep the Dodgers in Brooklyn."

 

A different mood greeted Diamond when he returned to Fenway on April 20, 2013, just five days after bombings at the Boston Marathon killed three people and injured nearly 300 others. "What an honor it is for me to be here today," Diamond told the crowd. "I bring love from the whole country." He then sang along with the ‘69 recording of the song, leading the crowd in the "Ba! Ba! Ba!" and "So good! So good! So good!" ad-libs that have essentially become official lyrics. Diamond also donated all the royalties he received from the song that week, as downloads increased by 597 percent.

The Red Sox aren't the only sports team to have basked in the glory of "Sweet Caroline." The song has become popular with both the Penn State Nittany Lions and Iowa State Cyclones football squads and has even crossed the Atlantic to become part of the music rotation for England's Castleford Tigers crew team and Britain's Oxford United Football Club.

Over the last five decades, millions of people have had their lives touched by "Sweet Caroline" in one way or another. The enduring popularity must be a pleasant surprise for Diamond, who had no idea he’d written a classic back in 1969. "Neil didn't like the song at all," Tommy Cogbill, a bass player at American Sound Studio, said in an interview for the 2011 book Memphis Boys. "I actually remember him not liking it and not wanting it to be a single."

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