When the CW released the first image of Ray Palmer's (Brandon Routh) ATOM suit in Arrow, fans were finally given some kind of context as to how the series would be handling the introduction of such a tech-heavy supersuit amongst its existing skilled vigilante, stripped-down roster. It had the same color scheme as the original suit from the comic books, but the actual materials that created the costume became much more armor-based than fans may have expected. Leaving many fans to believe that the ATOM will act as DC's version of Iron Man in this new universe.
The last episode of Arrow, titled "Nanda Parbat," introduced several new storylines and possibilities, least of which being Ray Palmer using the ATOM suit for the first time. However, the last image audiences got of the suit was seeing it streak through the skies of Starling City, leaving fans waiting until the series returns from a three week break on March 18th to discover what happened next.
In a recent interview with IGN, Ray Palmer himself, Brandon Routh, talked about what it's like putting on the suit:
"This is different from the Arrow and Arsenal suits, and Canary - it's bada***. It's a whole different feeling from the Superman suit -- the only other suit that I've been in."
The actor also touched on his return to superherodom and differences between playing Ray Palmer in Arrow and Superman in 2006's Superman Returns:
"TV's just a whole different animal. The speed at which you work; there's that. What's interesting is it's a long growth period, as we're finally starting to get into some of the Atom aspect of it. I was just Ray Palmer for a long period of time. So it's a lot of character development, which is cool and I appreciate. So that's a little bit different. The world of Arrow is certainly different than the world of Superman and Metropolis. We're in a darker world. So they're tonally different. But then you have Flash, which is more like Metropolis -- even looks like Metropolis, the architecture of the police station and all that stuff. So it's cool to be in the world and see that it's expanding. You have all these other superhero entities coming into it."
When asked about the possibility of the ATOM meeting Superman at some point in this shared DC TV universe, Routh replied:
"That would be bizarre. There'd probably be some inside jokes and winks at the camera. But that would be cool. It's such a bizarre thing already for me to be playing this character, and for some people to only be known for playing this character. People young enough who haven't seen Superman Returns are like, 'Oh, that guy's the Atom. What!?! He played Superman!?' I mean, I get that all the time from people who are fans of Chuck. They see me on Chuck, and their buddies are like, 'Yeah, he was Superman too,' and they're like, 'What!?' That's a cool thing for me, because it means that I'm not just defined by one character. Even if that is the one thing I'm known for, hallelujah! That's an amazing thing too. So, I don't know. Anything's possible. That'd be a trip."
The interview was conducted before the announcement of an ATOM/Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller)/Dr. Martin Stein (Victor Garber) spin-off series in the works, but IGN also asked him about the possibility of Ray Palmer getting his own solo show:
"The sky's the limit I think. DC and CW have done a great job between the two shows, kind of creating a platform to launch these heroes."
Lastly, the actor was also questioned about the possibility of the ATOM teaming up with Laurel Lance's (Katie Cassidy) Black Canary:
"It'd be an interesting matchup. They're in opposite places, but they're sharing a similar grief I would think. They could definitely come together about that. For them to fight criminals together would be kind of a funny thing. She needs a little bit of levity in her life too."
The ATOM suits appearance at the end of the last episode represents the introduction of yet another kind of superhero into this shared TV universe. Now, along with skilled fighters and vigilantes like Arrow and Black Canary, meta-humans like Firestorm and The Flash, but now there is a new tech-based, genius hero in this world as well. It proves that the CW and all of the showrunners aren't afraid to diversify their rosters and it'll be interesting to see not only how the fellow characters in Arrow react to the ATOM's new presence in the universe, but also how the characters of Central City will react when Ray and Felicity crossover in episode 18 of The Flash.
With the previously mentioned spin-off in the works right now at DC, as well as the new rumored characters said to be introduced by the end of Arrow's third season, fans may be seeing the beginning of this DC TV universe expanding into a much larger world, faster than most may have expected. While it's interesting to think about who may be introduced sometime soon and what spin-offs shows may be in the works, right now, fans can focus on what will happen next with Ray Palmer when Arrow returns in just over two weeks.
Arrow is set to return Wednesday March 18th on the CW at 8/7c.