Today I was lucky enough to spend the afternoon at the Dolby Theater where Sciencefiction.com landed a seat at Paley Fest 2017 for the ‘Arrow,’ ‘The Flash,’ ‘Supergirl,’ and ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ panels, which had the Executive Producers and many of the stars of the four hit superhero shows in attendance to talk about the current state of the Arrowverse and answer questions from the fans. And to make things even better, the panel was moderated by none other than Mr. Kevin Smith himself, who as everyone should know by now is no slouch when it comes to DC Comics, and nowadays is intimately familiar with the CW shows in particular, as he has directed a few episodes of both ‘The Flash’ and ‘Supergirl.’ Smith started things off by talking about how he originally had no faith in ‘Arrow’ or the CW to do the shows justice, but was spurred into watching once they began ‘The Flash’ series, in particular by a phone call from his friend and former ‘Jay and Silent Bob’ co-star Jason Mewes when he saw King Shark appear on ‘The Flash’ for the first time. Smith immediately thought that if he had been hearing good things about ‘The Flash’ and they were brave enough to tackle a ridiculous villain like King Shark, there must be something quality about the series. Smith jumped into ‘The Flash’ season 1, and was hooked, even admitting that he did a react video of himself watching the Season 1 finale where he bawled his eyes out, loving the show and the emotional moments, saying it made him feel like a kid again watching his favorite heroes on Saturday morning cartoons.
Smith started things off by talking about how he originally had no faith in ‘Arrow’ or the CW to do the shows justice, but was spurred into watching once they began ‘The Flash’ series, in particular by a phone call from his friend and former ‘Jay and Silent Bob’ co-star Jason Mewes when he saw King Shark appear on ‘The Flash’ for the first time. Smith immediately thought that if he had been hearing good things about ‘The Flash’ and they were brave enough to tackle a ridiculous villain like King Shark, there must be something quality about the series. Smith jumped into ‘The Flash’ Season 1, and was hooked, even admitting that he did a react video of himself watching the Season 1 finale where he bawled his eyes out, loving the show and the emotional moments, saying it made him feel like a kid again watching his favorite heroes on Saturday morning cartoons.
Soon enough, he called out the panel members, and with four shows to cover, it was a big one. The list of executive producers included Phil Klemmer, Marc Guggenheim, Wendy Mericle, Andrew Kreisberg, Todd Helbing and Aaron Helbing representing all four shows, and the actors included 2 from every series, the full list being: David Harewood (Martian Manhunter) and Melissa Benoist (Kara Danvers) from ‘Supergirl,’ Stephen Amell (Oliver Queen) and David Ramsey (John Diggle) from ‘Arrow,’ Candice Patton (Iris West) and Grant Gustin (Barry Allen) from ‘The Flash,’ and Caity Lotz (Sara Lance) and Brandon Routh (Ray Palmer) from ‘Legends of Tomorrow.’ It was a very packed staged, but the fans loved it, and after a brief montage of footage from the current seasons of the show, Smith dug right in with questions for the panel.
Of course they mentioned, while surrounded by the spin-off shows full of powered-heroes, how when ‘Arrow’ began they had never planned on doing super-powers in this universe, and a story was told about how Greg Berlanti was the one who first pitched using Barry Allen in ‘Arrow’ Season 2 and having him be struck by lightning after three episodes and waking up in his own series, a thought which seemed preposterous at the time. While on the topic of Berlanti they also mentioned that he was also the one who cracked the big ‘Arrow’ 100th episode dilemma, which they knew was going to occur during the big crossover this year and had a lot of work to do to stay part of that event but also celebrate 100 episodes of the series (which is one of my favorite episodes of ‘Arrow’ Season 5). Amell commented at one point that he was very “proud to have done 100 episodes, and the path to 200 will be easier,” which got a big cheer from fans who at this point might need a little reassurance that ‘Arrow’ can make it to 200 episodes, what with the ratings and quality decline it has been facing of late.
Next Smith talked to ‘The Flash’ folks, noting with some chagrin how he did not like the latest twist in the Barry/ Iris romance, especially coming right after their engagement, which led to Amell shouting to the producers “You guys love torturing the viewers!” to which they jokingly responded “You’re part of this too!” The producers revealed that the Season 4 villain for ‘The Flash’ would NOT be a speedster, which got an excited cheer from the crowd, thought Smith did jump in and remind the audience that the show is about the fastest man alive, it makes sense for his enemies to share that ability. Kreisberg also commented that in his mind, all of these shows are really about the origins of these heroes, even saying ‘The Flash’ “should really be called ‘The Flash Begins’ ” claiming that the heroes are not fully their heroic selves yet, to which Amell quipped “I better be getting close! Jesus!” (a sentiment I share, after 5 seasons why isn’t he fully the Oliver Queen we know from the comics?)
While discussing ‘Supergirl’ Kreisberg really hit on the fact that the producers and writers realized early on that the show could really tackle issues facing the modern world more so than the others, and have strove to make it about those issues, ranging from LBGT rights to immigration, all seen through the eyes of an immigrant “alien” who came to Earth seeking a new home. They briefly mentioned the show had even been nominated for a GLAAD award recently, and that Benoist herself went to a women’s march in Washington DC during the recent political rallies, and strongly feels the messages of the show are important to spread. We also learned that David Harewood actually wishes he could be the full green Martian Manhunter version of the character more often, though Smith complimented him and said that without all the make-up and costume Harewood still manages to embody the character he has loved since his childhood.
And finally, they got to ‘Legends of Tomorrow,’ and Executive Producer Phil Klemmer started things off by talking about how everyone says ‘Legends’ is the crazy show, but he feels the whole thing is grounded by the “compelling cast.” Furthermore, he says in Season 2 they really figured out that they did not need to focus on every character in every episode, and could have more of a “roving spotlight” on different characters every week, allowing us to really go on a journey with that character. Kevin Smith joked about the fact that on ‘Legends’ they “f@#$ with time every week, while on ‘Flash’ he breaks it once and has to deal with it the rest of the season,’ which is very true, and you got to love Smith for pointing that out. While talking about Sara Lance taking command of the Waverider this season, Caity Lotz spoke about how “Sara is a lone wolf and needs to be doing her solo thing or leading,” and also mentioned how it seems like ‘Legends’ is like the outcast of the Arrowverse, which seems to amuse her and the cast.
Lastly, the producers briefly touched on the full-on four-way cross-over they intend to do next season, with Amell speaking on how every season they seem to get better at planning the cross-0vers, and even stating that he has inside information that despite the producers claiming every year that they’ll never do another cross-over because of the work involved, they are clearly going to keep doing them. In the Q&A with fans, one woman asked about episode 19 of ‘The Flash’ which promised to be very Iris-centered, and we learned that it will be called ‘The Once and Future Flash’ and the plot will basically be about Barry realizing the only way he can get the information he needs to save the day is to go to the future to find it. While they did not outright say it, that sounds like Barry is officially going to the future for a full episode, which sounds amazing. When asked about Oliver and Felicity ever getting back together Amell said things were still complicated, but promised that Oliver and Felicity did have some “cool stuff coming up.”
It was a great panel, and it was very exciting to see all those stars up on stage together, and to see all of the excitement from the cast and crew and the fans for the CW superhero shows. You can check out the full panel for yourself over on Hulu once they get around to posting them (they sponsored this year), and feel free to share any thoughts or opinions you have on the CW super-hero line-up in the comments below!
Nick is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles, who belongs to the privileged few who enjoyed the ending to ‘Lost.’ For more of Nick’s thoughts and articles, follow him on Twitter.