As some studios, writers or producers struggle to do one superhero justice these days, the production team behind both Arrow and The Flash seem to welcoming challenges (even more than those posed by their two DC Comics heroes). Launching The Flash alongside Firestorm seems risky enough, but with Arrow, even the likes of Arsenal, Black Canary and Ra's al Ghul apparently aren't enough. Adding a Justice League hero in Ray Palmer a.k.a. The Atom will open up even more doors for The CW's shared universe, but it sounds like Arrow won't be the show to feature Palmer's superhero transformation.
When Brandon Routh (Superman Returns) was announced to be bringing even more conflict(?) to Oliver Queen's professional life, comic book fans knew that brilliant businessman Ray Palmer held more potential than developing yet another Arrow love triangle. Routh let the cat out of the bag himself by confirming that he had seen concept art of his upcoming Atom costume, but it seems the producers are now offering some intriguing responses.
At a recent screening of Arrow's Season 3 premiere (hat tip to GreenArrowTV), executive producer Marc Guggenheim was asked about the showrunners' plans for Routh'a Palmer, and if fans can hope to see him don his duds and get to shrinking in the near future:
"I think anything is possible. My instinct is that if Ray Palmer’s going to shrink, he’ll probably shrink on another show.
"With The Flash in existence, there’s no real compelling reason for us to do super powers on Arrow. We can bring characters to Flash to have super powers. We have plans for Ray that don’t involve shrinking, but our plans for Ray are actually really cool."
The producers have previously stated that after the super-soldier story line of Arrow's last season, they would be doing away with superpowers for the time being; so Guggenheim's comments seem to reinforce that claim. But the fact remains: you don't add Ray Palmer - or cast a leading man known to comic fans already - unless you intend to make use of his character's unique abilities. So is it possible that Routh could shift from Arrow to The Flash, as Guggenheim's comments seem to suggest? Or could a different plan be at work?
With one crossover between both shows already under way (and from all reports, the cast and crew are having a field day with overlapping their characters), it could be possible to swap Ray Palmer from the grounded world of Arrow into the bleeding-edge science fiction of The Flash. But with Central City presumed home to both Barry Allen and Ronnie Raymond, the old adage that 'three's a crowd' could raise some problems. So we have to ask: do one or more of those heroes have the potential to lead their own series?
It's possible that The CW could repeat a proven formula: seeing how viewers respond to Routh in his everyday identity, and gauge the demand for his Atom transformation along the way. If it's high, then perhaps a trip to Central City could allow his character the freedom to delve into the fringe fiction that Arrow may seek to avoid (to differentiate its world from that of The Flash). At this point, it's hard to know just how many DC Comics characters Warner Bros. is willing to put on TV.
Of course, it's just as likely that the showrunners expect to do away with either Ronnie Raymond or Ray Palmer before long - their respective shows are called Arrow and Flash, after all. That would seem like a shame to fans of either character, but at this point, The CW is on a roll. Who knows what kind of long shots they might be willing to take if the pieces start falling into place?
Which path would you prefer? Does Routh have what it takes to lead his own series as Ray Palmer/The Atom, or would you prefer he stick to a supporting role with Ronnie Raymond/Firestorm? Sound off in the comments.
Arrow Season 3 premieres October 8th, 2014 @8pm on The CW.
Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce for updates on Arrow as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.