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.”

These Breaking Bad K-Swiss Sneakers Are Heisenberg-Approved

K-Swiss
K-Swiss

On the heels of last week's Netflix release of El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, fans of Breaking Bad have another treat on tap. Sneaker brand K-Swiss just announced a special edition sneaker modeled after the now-iconic RV camper where unlikely drug kingpin Walter White and his sidekick Jesse Pinkman cooked batches of the finest methamphetamine New Mexico had ever seen.

A K-Swiss Classic 2000 x 'Breaking Bad' Recreational Vehicle sneaker is pictured
K-Swiss

The Classic 2000 x Breaking Bad Recreational Vehicle sneakers sport the same distinctive striped pattern as the camper and feature the show’s logo on the tongue. Inside is a lining that resembles the upholstery of the camper’s interior. The shoebox even has a few bullet holes to mimic the ones on the camper’s door.

Unlike Walt's meth, the sneakers are available only in limited quantities. K-Swiss plans on launching the shoe beginning at 6 p.m. PST on Thursday, October 17, at a pop-up store at 7100 Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, California. (The “store” is actually the screen-used RV from the series, and fans are welcome to stop by to take pictures with it.) The company will release 50 pairs at the pop-up, with another 250 through K-Swiss.com and through Greenhouse, a designer and collectible shoe app from Foot Locker.

The shoes retail for $80, but unless you’re one of the lucky few able to grab a pair through the routes above, you’ll probably have to consider a marked-up eBay sale. As Walter White well knows, quality comes at a heavy price.

10 Gruesome Facts About Dawn of the Dead

Anchor Bay Entertainment
Anchor Bay Entertainment

In the late 1960s, George A. Romero changed horror cinema forever with Night of the Living Dead, an instant classic that defined zombie storytelling on the big and small screens for decades to come. Over the next decade, Romero—who was reluctant to revisit the creepy world of shambling corpses he’d brought to life—tried other things. But then a chance encounter with a shopping mall and a little help from a fellow horror master changed his mind. The result was Dawn of the Dead, an over-the-top horror comic book for the big screen that remains, for many fans, the greatest zombie film ever made.

It’s been more than 40 years since Dawn of the Dead first arrived in theaters, and the film remains a wickedly fun piece of horror satire full of exploding heads, mischievous bikers, and one very dangerous helicopter. In celebration of four decades of terror at the mall, here are 10 facts about the making of Dawn of the Dead.

1. We can thank the mall (and Dario Argento) for Dawn of the Dead.

When Night of the Living Dead became a massive hit after its release in 1968, Romero began fielding various offers to potentially revisit the world of ghouls that he had created. Romero, who’d made a living making TV commercials in Pittsburgh before Night of the Living Dead was made, was "paranoid" about the idea of returning for a second film, and left it alone for years until an idea unexpectedly came to him.

As Romero explained on Anchor Bay’s Dawn of the Dead commentary track, the idea for the film initially came to him when he touring Pennsylvania's Monroeville Mall, which was owned by some friends of his. During the tour, he was shown some crawlspace within the mall where various supplies were stored, and started thinking about what might happen if people holed up in the mall to try and ride out a zombie apocalypse.

The second big ingredient that led to Dawn of the Dead was Dario Argento, the acclaimed Italian director best known for Suspiria and Deep Red. Argento offered to help Romero get financing for a Night of the Dead sequel, and even invited him to Rome to work on the script.

“They got us a little apartment, I sat in Rome and banged this out,” Romero said.

2. George A. Romero came up with the most famous line while drinking.

A photograph of George A. Romero
Vittorio Zunino Celotto, Getty Images

The most famous line in Dawn of the Dead—a line so famous it became the movie's tagline and was later reused in Zack Snyder’s 2004 remake—belongs to the character of Peter: “When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the Earth.” As catchy and unforgettable as it is, Romero doesn’t recall any grand moment of inspiration. He was just drunk one night, trying to get the script finished.

“I just made that up. Truly. On a drunken night when I was really crashing to finish the script and I thought that was kind of nice. It was from something Dario Argento told me,” Romero told Rolling Stone in 1978. “My family is Cuban and Dario said, ‘Well you have a Caribbean background and that’s why you’re into the zombie thing; zombies originated in Haiti.’ I said, well, all right, and I just figured that’s something a voodoo priest might say. Whee! I’m just having fun, man.”

3. Multiple versions of Dawn of the Dead exist.

Argento helped Romero find financing for Dawn of the Dead and served as a “script consultant” on the film. In exchange, Argento retained the right to recut the film for various foreign markets, while Romero retained final cut for North and South America. As a result, the Italian version of the film was shorter than Romero’s U.S. version, as Argento trimmed certain jokes he felt Italian audiences wouldn’t get. This increased the darkness of the film, which led to certain content cuts in other foreign markets. This is why several different cuts of the film wound up existing around the world, including an R-rated re-release that was re-cut for drive-in theaters in 1982.

4. Dawn of the Dead was released unrated in America.

Dawn of the Dead was released first in international markets, arriving in Italian theaters in the fall of 1978, months before it would land in the United States. In just a few weeks, the film was a commercial success overseas without ever playing to American audiences. So, when Romero and company ran into MPAA demands that they cut the film down or get an X rating, they doubled down and released the film unrated without any cuts to the gore.

5. The zombies didn’t get a lot of direction.

Though he’s renowned among horror fans as the man responsible for building zombies into one of the most effective movie monsters, Romero didn’t spend too much time guiding his undead ghouls. The director felt that if he tried to offer detailed direction in terms of zombie behavior, the zombies would all start acting one way instead of like a group of individuals. So, direction was kept to a minimum.

“You just have to say, ‘Be dead,’” he later recalled.

6. Yes, it was filmed in a working mall.

The Monroeville Mall was not a Romero invention. It was a real, working shopper’s paradise, owned by friends of his, which meant that it wasn’t just going to be shut down for weeks at a time so a zombie movie crew could come in and wreck it. Though Romero and his wife Chris later recalled having to stay out of the mall while the Christmas decorations were up (which is when scenes set elsewhere were shot), once the crew did get into the mall they could only shoot at night.

To make that easier, the crew replaced many of the lights in the mall with color-corrected lighting, so they could essentially shoot wherever they chose. At 7 a.m. each morning the mall’s Muzak would automatically start playing, which meant shooting was done for the day, and the cast and crew could shamble home for a little rest. (The Monroeville Mall, which is located about 10 miles from Pittsburgh, is still in operation today.)

7. Many of Dawn of the Dead's gore effects were improvised.

Though he would eventually become known as one of horror’s great gore wizards, at the time of Dawn of the Dead Tom Savini’s career as a special effects artist was still quite young. As he recalled later, he was doing a play in North Carolina when Romero called him and said: “We got another gig. Think of ways to kill people.”

Savini later recalled that he was given a great deal of freedom to play with different ideas for the many, many gore effects in Dawn of the Dead, so much so that many of the most memorable effects were made up on the day of shooting, including the scene in which a zombie takes a screwdriver through the ear and the exploding head during the SWAT raid on the housing project near the beginning of the film. Savini’s knack for improvisation also served him well in another capacity: The character of Blades the biker, which Savini plays, was not in the original script. He was simply added during shooting.

“George let us go play,” Savini recalled.

8. Dawn of the Dead is packed with cameos.

Like many of Romero’s films, Dawn of the Dead’s production was based in his native Pittsburgh, which meant that getting people to be in the movie was often as simple as contacting friends and family and inviting them to appear on camera. Romero makes a cameo in the film himself, alongside his future wife and producer Chris, in the film’s opening sequence at the TV station, where the couple is sitting side by side at a control panel (Romero, Savini noted on the commentary track, is also wearing his “lucky scarf”). Other cameos scattered throughout the film include Chris Romero’s brother Cliff Forrest as the man who leans over a sleeping Francine in the opening shot, and Tom Savini’s niece and nephew as the two zombie children who burst out of a closet at the landing strip and attack Peter.

9. The bikers were not actors.

As with some of the smaller speaking roles, getting extras to show up in Dawn of the Dead was often a matter of simply asking around Pittsburgh for the right people. As a result, the National Guardsmen present in the film, as well as some of the police officers, were real National Guardsmen and real cops.

For the legendary sequence in which a biker gang stages a raid on the mall, the production also managed to find real bikers in form of a group called The Pagans, who brought their own motorcycles for the shoot.

“I don’t remember who contacted them, but they just showed up,” Chris Romero later recalled.

10. Dawn of the Dead almost featured a darker ending.

During production on Dawn of the Dead, George Romero told Rolling Stone writer Chet Flippo that the film had, in Flippo’s words “no beginning and two endings.” Romero explained that this was because he was working “moment to moment” on the film. He eventually figured the beginning of the film out, of course, and went with an ending in which Peter and Francine fight their way out of the mall and onto the roof, where they escape in the helicopter. So, what was the other ending?

On the film’s commentary track, George and Chris Romero and Tom Savini all discuss a much darker concept to close the film, in which Peter would have shot himself (which he contemplates doing in the final cut) while Francine would have leapt into the spinning blades of the helicopter, mirroring one of the most famous zombie deaths earlier in the film. That ending would have followed in the footsteps of Night of the Living Dead’s dark ending, but Romero ultimately decided on something lighter.

Still, the original plan didn’t go to waste: Savini had already made a cast of actress Gaylen Ross’s head to use for Francine’s death scene, so he repurposed it—with the help of some makeup and a wig—for the famous exploding head shot during the housing project raid.

Additional Sources:
Shock Value by Jason Zinoman (The Penguin Press, 2011)
Dawn of the Dead DVD Commentary (Anchor Bay, 2004)

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