Oliver Queen better prepare himself for a new type of villain, as The CW’s Arrow returns this month. We’ve known for some time that comic book nemesis Count Vertigo was going to be playing a role in the live action series, but now we have a few more details on the show’s take on the villain, and how drugs will fit into the picture.
Actor Seth Gabel (Fringe, Dirty Sexy Money) may not have revealed how large a role Vertigo (or whatever his name may be) will play in Starling City, but he did explain just how large a departure from the comic books fans are in for.
As we’ve learned, ‘Vertigo’ won’t refer to Gabel’s character, specifically – at least, not at first – but rather a new drug spreading across Starling’s streets. We don’t know if the storyline about Oliver’s younger sister Thea’s drug problem has been leading to this development, but it wouldn’t surprise us. Besides offering the perfect premise to introduce Roy Harper (Aka Red Arrow), the drug trafficking also grants Gabel’s character the chance to gain power – and more importantly – the attention of Oliver Queen’s nocturnal persona.
In an interview with IAR, Gabel provided some details on the version of Vertigo set to appear in Arrow. Unsurprisingly, the Count is merely the latest comic book villain being substantially re-imagined for the grounded style of the TV series. He may not be nobility, but it’s likely there will still be some nods to the comics:
“In the original comic book series his name is Count Vertigo and he’s a guy of eastern European decent. In this, I play a street thug/drug kingpin and instead of having super powers, whatever super powers I may have get manifested in the form of a drug called Vertigo that I found in the street of Starling City. I’m using that to acquire money, power and psychologically disturbing citizens of Starling City so that I could eventually take over.
“With that said, I wanted him to have special abilities in some way. I really wanted to make sure that he had a physically intimidating presence on the street and that whoever he goes up against; he ends up being a very worthy adversary for them…I threw myself into just taking big risks with the character, doing as much as I could to keep it grounded in reality, but at the same time not being afraid to be over the top. So I definitely have a voice of some kind or definitely some affectations, but they feel real and they were a blast to portray”
Some might cringe at such a drastic change, but we should remember that as recurring a villain as Count Vertigo has been to Green Arrow and others, his exact appearance and powers have varied greatly. Rather than quibbling over how he should be depicted (or who we always thought would actually be playing Vertigo), we’re just happy to see a certified Green Arrow villain adapted for the show. With Huntress, the Royal Flush Gang and Firefly, Batman’s rogues gallery has seemingly taken precedence. But not for long.
The question we find ourselves asking more and more: will the new nemesis be dealt with handily and summarily dismissed, or be sticking around to cause Oliver trouble down the road? At this point Gabel isn’t ruling anything out:
“It’s definitely open to be recurring. That’s how it was presented to me initially and we’ll see what ultimately really happens. I would love to continue on, it was so much fun to do.”
We’ve got our own theories on how Arrow may soon be drawing on more recurring villains, as well as token criminals on revenge kicks. It’s still too early to tell if those mainstay villains will let the writers delve into the fiction of other DC heroes and villains, but the possibility is there. And if ‘Vertigo’ really can use pharmaceuticals to control those around him, other ‘supernatural’ or magical villains might not be so unlikely to appear.
Arrow returns Wednesday, January 16, with ‘Burned’ @8pm on The CW. See Gabel arrive on the scene in Episode 12, ‘Vertigo’ January 30.
Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.