Arrow nearly adapted Kevin Smith’s Onomatopoeia villain years ago, according to producer Andrew Kreisberg. Smith created the character for DC Comics during his spell as a comic book writer back in the 2000s. Onomatopoeia has a unique visual hook: he says his own sound effects. So, for example, if he’s snapping something, he actually says the word snap.
In 2007, Smith stated that the character wouldn’t work in live-action form, saying, “if you tried to do that cinematically you can’t really rock it. A gun in a film sounds completely different. It doesn’t read as BLAM!” However, when Arrow season 1 went into production, in 2012, the producers were keen to bring the villainous marksman Onomatopoeia into their roster of evildoers.
They wanted to use Onomatopoeia, until they saw Smith’s statements about the character's live-action problems. Here’s how Kreisberg recalls the chain of events (via CBR):
“Originally, we were going to try to do Onomatopoeia, a villain from Kevin Smith’s run, but Kevin apparently said in an interview that there was no way to bring that character to television and film - and after a while we agreed with him!”
So, inspired by Smith’s comments, the Arrow producers decided to write Onomatopoeia out of their plans. Instead, the episode he was intended for ended up featuring J. August Richards as Mister Blank. This new creation wore a sharp suit and carried a silencer pistol, much like Onomatopoeia, but he didn’t go by that name or do his own sound effects. This is quite a cool example of a superhero TV show taking advice from the relevant comic book creators.
However, Smith has since changed his tune. He said in 2016 that he would love to write Onomatopoeia for the show, as a “one or two episode arc”. And then, in another interview, he explained how he planned to get around the sound-effects issue that previously bothered him:
“So instead of just doing the actual sound – which to me, in the real world, would be like the dude from Police Academy making noises with his mouth – he’ll just have little cards. Business cards that have typewritten words of whatever the f—. So instead of him saying ‘blam’, you’d find this card on your desk and turn around and ‘blam’, he’d shoot you and stuff like that. Which I think is a little more chilly, you know, for doing it in live action.”
It will be interesting to see, now that Smith has changed his mind about the whole thing, whether the producers of Arrow will do so as well. As it stands, no plans to include the character have been announced for Arrow season 6. That could all change, though.
Arrow season 6 premieres on The CW on October 12.