[SPOILERS for those not caught up on Arrow ahead.]
Five episodes into Arrow season 5, and it is clear the series is attempting to go back to its roots. After last year’s lackluster season, things do look like they are picking up with more grounded storylines and magic-less antagonists. Another change this year is to the Team Arrow dynamic. After Laurel Lance’s (Katie Cassidy) untimely death at the hands of Damien Darhk, both Thea (Willa Holland) and Diggle (David Ramsay) decided to give up their night jobs as vigilantes. Diggle, who also was looking for redemption after killing his brother, decided to reenlist, and began the season back in the military.
Without Speedy and Spartan by his side, Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) was left to deal with the season’s first primary villain, Tobias Church (Chad L. Coleman), on his own. This eventually proved impractical, leading Oliver to reluctantly recruit Wild Dog, Artemis, and Ragman to the team. However, when Diggle was sent to military prison for a crime he did not commit, his wife, Lyla, persuaded Oliver to orchestrate a prison break. Now a fugitive, Spartan is back on Team Arrow and he has an upgraded look – in the form of a new helmet.
CBR recently spoke with concept artist, Andy Poon, who discussed fan reaction to Diggle’s new helmet, and what he and costume designer, Maya Mani, looked to for inspiration. You can read Poon’s response below:
“Costume designer Maya Mani and I were already working on some further exploration of a newer version of Diggle’s helmet while the first one from Season 4 was in production…I was studying the first one, and it felt more like a mask with an open back that helped him disguise his identity like Oliver suggested before. I feel like with Diggle’s military background and his access to resourceful people like Cisco, he could use a more practical functional helmet that gives him full protection.”
Finally we see Diggle dawn his Spartan outfit again with his new and improved helmet. This is the concept that was shown in SDCC last year at hall H. It is not the new helmet but it is not his season 4 one either. It was kind of a version 1.5 design. Very happy of how the 2.0 helmet turned out and diggle kicking some serious butt again. @dccomics @cw_arrow @davidpaulramsey #sparten #johndiggle #newhelmet #upgrade #starlab #ciscoramon #costume #concept #design #illustration
Poon also added that it made sense that the helmet be inspired by an actual spartan helmet. As such, the artist stated:
“Also with the name Spartan, why not have some more design cues that are inspired by an actual spartan helmet design? The slight ridge down the center, more angular front opening with nose piece and the slight flare at the back of the helmet — all gives it a more dynamic yet functional look.”
Finally, it appears that the illustrator seriously reflected on fan feedback, and elaborated on how that impacted the new helmet design:
“I think the new version also fixes the issues regarding some of the fan feedback about it looking similar to other comic book characters…I’m a comic book fan myself, so I see where they were are coming from. There are always creative solutions to evolve a design, sometimes changing certain lines a few degrees here and there completely changes the feel of the aesthetic. The cool thing about these heroes is that they are always learning, adapting, and evolving, so it makes total sense that their look can evolve as well.”
There were complaints from fans that Diggle’s season 4 helmet looked too much like a hybrid of Magneto and Guardian. Clearly, with James Olsen set to take on the mantle of Guardian (even if on another Earth) in The CW’s DC multi-verse, it makes sense that Diggle’s helmet would take on a different look to avoid confusion. Ultimately, the new design does not change much for the series, but it is an important reminder that the creative minds behind The CW’s Arrowverse TV shows are always looking to improve upon what they have, and do take fan responses to heart.
Arrow continues with ‘So It Begins’ next Wednesday @8pm on The CW.