Paleyfest dissects DC’s Hero Journey

12:30 pm EDT, March 21, 2017

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The superheroes showed up on Saturday, ready to bring the star and superpower to Hollywood’s Dolby Theater for this year’s Paleyfest four-way crossover event featuring the cast and producers of Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.

Hypable got a chance to chat with the producers before the event and sit in on the out of this world panel hosted by Kevin Smith where Executive Producer Andrew Kreisberg reminisced about how at his very first Paleyfest, he and Greg Berlanti promised during Arrow’s first season that there would never be superpowers on their show. 100+ episodes (and four shows) later, how times have changed…

On celebrating 100 ‘Arrow’ episodes

The nostalgia was evident as the cast and producers reminisced about the challenges of creating Arrow’s 100th episode, trying to juggle and satisfy both the needs of the crossover while also trying to honor the history of Arrow as its own show. Stephen Amell talked about the sense of accomplishment that came from shooting the 100th episode and realizing how many people in the cast and crew had been around since the show’s beginnings, only to have moved up into more senior positions within the show’s crew.

On recreating Dinah Drake as Black Canary

One of Arrow’s newest superpowered characters is none other than Dinah Drake: Arrow’s latest version of Black Canary. Hypable got the chance to talk to Arrow Executive Producer Wendy Mericle about what it was like trying to introduce a legacy character like Dinah Drake onto the show, following in the footsteps of Laurel Lance’s death. Mericle said, ““It’s been amazing. Juliana Harkavy is fantastic, and we feel really lucky to have her because it was such a long search to find just the right person. I think bringing Dinah onto the show is obviously very loaded for a lot of the fans, and it’s also loaded for a lot of the characters—Lance in particular misses his daughter. We’ve tried to be very careful with the notion that no one is ever going to replace Laurel Lance, but we decided to bring someone in because it’s hard to tell the Oliver Queen story without a Black Canary.”

On how Prometheus stacks up as a villain

With the rebirth of heroes comes a rebranding of villains, and Arrow EP Wendy Mericle talked to us about what makes Prometheus so dangerous: “He’s one of my favorites. I think we’ve had some good villains on the show, but Prometheus operates on such a different level in a more intellectual, psychological way. He’s not Malcolm Merlin trying to blow up the glades. He’s not Ra’s al Ghul with a personal vendetta. It’s not even like Damien Dark who also had his own agenda. Other villains have always gone after the city, they’ve always gone after the people around Oliver, but Prometheus is solely after Oliver himself, and he’s not even interested in killing him — he’s interested in breaking him down. That’s a different thing that we’ve never done before, and it’s been fun to write.”

On ‘The Flash’s’ ‘nut-busting’ season

While Arrow has always been known for its darker themes, The Flash is known both on and off screen for it’s lighter atmosphere. The third season of the show however has taken on a more somber tone than in seasons past, causing Kevin Smith to comment, “You guys have sent Barry on a real nut-busting journey this year!”

When asked about Barry’s darker evolution this year during the panel, Grant Gustin admitted that he agrees with some of the backlash that Barry has received for his decisions this year. Still, he believes that Barry’s best quality is that he is and has always been an optimist who believes in people, but that this season he’s faltered because his actions have been dictated by fear.

We got the chance to ask Executive Producer Todd Helbing about the creative decisions that lead to season three’s darker tone. He explained this season of The Flash by saying, “It’s one of those things where I don’t think that going darker was our intention at the start of the season, but it just sort of evolved that way. We’re certainly cognizant of it now, and that was one of the reasons why with the Grodd episodes we tried to have a little bit more fun, and especially with the musical — that’s such a light episode and it’s such a breath of fresh air. But ironically, a couple of the episodes before the end are a lot lighter than what we’ve had so far.”

On what we can expect from ‘The Flash’s’ anticipated musical crossover

This episode begins at a romantic crossroads with the Music Meister seeing himself as a (somewhat demented) cupid of sorts. Executive Producer Andrew Kreisberg explained that they tried to do the musical crossover as a gimmicky episode in the style of Joss Whedon — where the gimmick actually informs and furthers the narrative.

And while Executive Producer Todd Helbing couldn’t reveal much about the big crossover, he did admit that, “It’s really one of my personal favorite episodes that we’ve ever done. I’d never written a musical before, so that was a challenge that I really welcomed.”

On whether Iris will get the chance to take control of her own destiny

For a season so centered around the life and death of Iris West, she’s rarely been allowed the opportunity to explore her own agency outside of being someone’s girlfriend, sister, or daughter. So, as everyone continues working towards saving Iris, will our leading lady take a stab at trying to save herself?

“Yes, she definitely will,” promised Executive Producer Aaron Helbing. “You will see Iris be a badass, I’ll put it that way. We’ve showed episodes where when she was a little girl Joe trained her, so she knows how to fight. She knows how to handle weapons. You will definitely see Iris kick ass, and it will be in a very satisfying way.”

Executive Producer Todd Helbing added, “After the musical episode you’ll really see her start to proactively take charge. She and Barry have never been closer, and they work really well as a team and the two of them figure this out together.”

And it’s Iris’s relationship with not only Barry, but everyone around her, that Kevin Smith said defined Iris West as the heart and soul of the show — the one true superhero without any superpowers whatsoever. Candice told the panel that she is proud that Iris is able to provide a human quality to a superhuman show.

On the possibility of bringing back Linda Park

Speaking of fantastic females, I couldn’t help but ask about my favorite of Iris’s friends, the bubbly and boisterous journalist who has yet to meet her soulmate, Wally West. With Jesse Quick headed off to Earth 3, could it leave an opening in both the show and Wally’s heart for Linda Park to make her grand return to The Flash?

Executive Producer Aaron Helbing revealed, “We love Linda Park. Obviously, I think Malese is shooting something in New Zealand right now, so a lot of times it’s just dealing with schedules and availability, but we always love Linda Park. But Linda was with Barry, so it might be a little awkward if Linda started dating Wally, and right now Wally’s heart is still with Jesse; they’re kind of like a perfect pair, so right now we’re focusing on Wally and Jesse.”

On embracing the role of Supergirl as a feminist icon

One of the most enlightening parts of the panel began when Executive Producer Andrew Kreisberg started to talk about how the writers have chosen to focus on and bring out the best elements that make each of the four DC universe shows unique. He explained that Arrow is a crime drama, The Flash is a family drama, and Legends of Tomorrow is just insanity all around. But due to the inherent nature of who Supergirl is a woman and an alien, Supergirl lends itself to being a show that is able to delve deeper into the social issues that are effecting our lives politically and socially today.

So how does Melissa Benoist feel about being the face of feminism on a weekly basis? In the most empowering moment of the night, she admitted that she felt overwhelmed by the responsibility that came along with being Supergirl during the show’s first season, but has since decided to embrace the iconic role in the second season due to what’s happened in the world post-election and after witnessing the global participation of the Women’s March. She believes that in times of fear, Supergirl’s motto is one that we can and should all get behind: “Hope, help, and compassion for all.”

What do you love most about DC’s TV universe?

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