[WARNING: SPOILERS ahead for the season 2 finale of Arrow.]
Fans of superhero television have a lot to look forward to this year, as the fall of 2014 will bring us NBC's Constantine, Fox's Gotham, CW's The Flash and the return of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. If that weren't enough, Marvel's Agent Carter will premiere in January 2015. However, this slate of comic book-inspired shows would arguably not be as expansive without the mega-success of the CW's flagship superhero show, Arrow.
Season 2 of the ongoing saga of billionaire-turned-vigilante-turned-hero Oliver Queen culminated in a stellar finale, which succeeded in expanding on the themes of the show while providing the terrific level of spectacle fans have come to expect. Indeed, the action scenes designed by stunt coordinator JJ Makaro and fight coordinator James "Bam Bam" Bamford are a big reason Arrow has continued to enjoy its level of popularity.
From street-level brawling to the more elaborate martial-arts battles, Arrow's fight work is a model for how to update comic book action for today's audiences while maintaining a certain level of the fantastic. Makaro recently spoke to EW about what went into planning Oliver's epic, multi-layered showdown with Deathstroke, and what he has planned for season 3.
While the final fight was originally meant to be one battle, Makaro spoke about the decision to split it into flashbacks, saying:
And then I’m not sure who came up with the idea – I’m sure there’s four of us at least who want to take credit for it – but somebody said something along the lines of we thought it’d be really cool to do both fights at the same time and have somebody get punched and the person would end up landing in the other time zone.
Makaro also spoke about acknowledging certain aspects of the characters that fans want to see, especially for this big match-up. He went on to speak about staying attuned to Deathstroke's point of view, saying:
You have a tendency, once you’re doing an action sequence, you’re always thinking about the hero and how the hero pulls it off and where they’re going with it all, but we needed to kind of have an approach where Deathstroke was, in his own way, a hero.
With the end of season 2 setting up a new chapter in Oliver's backstory - finding himself in Hong Kong after escaping the island, and meeting Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) - and recent casting and plot updates pointing toward a whole new realm of possibilities, Makaro had this to say on where the next season will be heading and what he'd like to do next:
Our fights are going to get better again because they always do. James [Bamford], we keep pushing him and we keep giving him stronger challenges. He’s right now in Asia learning some more fight moves, so he’s really moving forward with the fight work. Now that they’ve put us into Asia, hopefully we’ll be able to get in there and have a lot of fun doing those kinds of fights. But the other things that we’re trying to get out is I’ve always wanted to do a parkouring sequence through moving traffic. I’ve seen little bits of it. We dabbled with it in the previous season when we did the huge jump across the alley and then came down the fire escape and hopped on a car, and then we did a little parkour over some moving vehicles, but that’s something I’ve been hoping to do somewhere along the line. I keep watching for the opportunity for it. But of course, it’s as big and complicated as a lot of the things we’ve done already. I’m sure if we do do it, it will be a challenge.
Makaro went on to praise star Stephen Amell's commitment to the heavy physicality of the stunt work, and the addition of parkour to his skill-set:
He just loved it so much, and he’s applied himself so well on it. He’s very good at it, and that’s part of the reason why I would like to keep going with it. [T]he last time we did it, he actually did a fair amount of the work himself, pretty much all of it. But it is complex to do, so I’m really hoping that we get a chance to try and do it.
To action fans, the thought of Oliver Queen parkouring his way through moving traffic on (perhaps) the streets of Hong Kong while fighting off the next round of bad guys is particularly exciting. The world of Arrow is rife with possibilities going into season 3, so expect a slew of new rivals and allies to show up, with the promise of James Bamford and JJ Makaro taking the action scenes and stunt work to a whole new level.
Arrow Season 3 will air on Wednesdays @8pm in Fall 2014 on The CW.