"Arrow" Panel Selfie 

There’s no place like Dragon Con…

I’ve attended Dragon Con as fan in the past (this year marked my fourth in attendance), but this year was the first time I was attending as a member of the press, covering the event for Geek Smash alongside my good friend Jeff Kaminski. It was actually Kaminski (fun fact: we call each other by our last names, because we’re both Jeffs) who invited me to go with him for the first time back in 2009 (even though this year was my fourth, I missed two in the middle, which were the worst two weekends of my life, knowing that DCon was happening and that I wasn’t there for it). I remember how wonderful and amazing that first time was–talk about sensory overload–but I’m here to tell you, that amazement never wears off, no matter how many times you go.

As Kaminski noted in his previous coverage, we were invited to attend a couple of press conferences with some of the convention’s awesome guests. Kaminski already told you about some of those that we attended (Tricia Helfer! Terry Gilliam!), but one of the press conferences that I was really looking forward to was the one with some of the cast of The CW series “Arrow”

"Arrow" Press Conference

The “Arrow” press conference featured Paul Blackthorne (Detective Quentin Lance on the show), Caity Lotz (Sara Lance aka Black Canary) and Katrina Law (Nyssa al Ghul). I am really looking forward to the new season, so getting the opportunity to attend this press conference was really exciting. Here are some of things the trio discussed:

– While the lovely ladies of Starling City were running a tad bit late, the charming and funny Blackthorne got the ball rolling solo until they arrived a few minutes into the proceedings. He spoke about how his character has changed–going from a by-the-book detective who was out to stop The Arrow in Season 1 to an ally of The Arrow in Season 2–before stating the following about how those interactions continue to evolve going forward in Season 3: “And now in Season 3, there’s a slightly different shift in the dynamic between not just Lance and Arrow, but Arrow and the Startling City Police Department in general.”

– He went on to talk about his character’s promotion to Captain in the upcoming season: “Lance’s first speech, after everything that happened [in the Season 2 Finale], Lance is standing there as a Captain. So he got acknowledged the other way [from his demotion in Season 2], in a positive way in this instance, but no one has acknowledged this other guy [The Arrow]. In that speech, we then see how he is being acknowledged by the city.”

New photo from "Arrow" Season 3

– On the topic of playing characters that have backstories ingrained in the comics, Caity Lotz said, “It can be a little bit of pressure if you let it. I was talking to a girl today and she was saying that she grew up on the Black Canary comics, that she loved Black Canary and how much it meant to her, and when she said that the way I portrayed it was exactly how she envisioned it, it was such a compliment. You want to be true and bring everything you can from [the comics], but at the same time, you have to do something original and do your own thing.”

– Katrina Law had a different take on this: “I felt the opposite with Nyssa, because she’s only been in 19 comics. She’s a really unexplored character, so I feel like between myself and the writers, we were free to take her anywhere we wanted. Giving her an accent that’s kind of from nowhere. Having her be a lesbian. It was good that I wasn’t playing Talia, because she’s been played and done, and everyone has opinions. So for me, I love it. Nyssa’s probably my favorite character that I’ve ever done.”

– Blackthorne on keeping the set light on such a dark show: “There’s not much time to mess around when you’re shooting television. Sure, there are moments of lightness and fun and humor that definitely help you get through long days. You need a sense of humor.” Then Katrina Law added “And then there’s John Barrowman [who plays Malcolm Merlyn aka The Dark Archer on the show],” to which Paul exclaimed, “And then there’s Barrowman! Everything I just said, forget about it. Barrowman arrives and it’s a circus, and they’re just trying to keep the TV show rolling on behind it.”

"Arrow" Panel Selfie 2

I also attended one of the “Arrow” panels, which not only featured Blackthorne, Lotz and Law, but also Katie Cassidy (Laurel Lance), David Nykl (Anatoly Knyazev), and the amazing Manu Bennett (Slade Wilson aka Deathstroke!). Here are some notes from that panel:

– “For every job we go out for, 99% of the time we don’t get it.” Katrina Law on the casting process. Each member of the panel talked a little about how they were cast in the show, going through auditions and chemistry reads. Manu Bennett then added that for series star Stephen Amell, “Arrow was meant for him.”

– In other casting related talk, Manu Bennett told a hilarious story about wearing an awful wig that was glued on sideways when he went to read for the titular role in “Conan the Barbarian.” Alas, he did not get that part, but he did get the part of Sinbad in the SyFy original movie “Sinbad and the Minotaur,” a topic that sent a red-faced Bennett ducking under the table when asked about it by a fan.

– “I do all my own stunts. I had to run across the room once!” This was Blackthorne’s retort when a fan commented that the show should have won an Emmy for best stunts. The show really does have an amazing stunt team working on it, but poor Blackthorne never really gets to get in on that type of action. Here’s hoping that he gets to do more stunt work in Season 3.

– On the topic of the show’s flashbacks, here’s what Blackthorne had to say: “One moment I’m looking forward to is what will happen in the fifth year?” His question is one I’m sure many “Arrow” fans are asking. What happens after Season 5? These flashbacks–which so far have been set on the island, but this season we will see Oliver in Hong Kong–are a huge part of the show, and so far, they have pretty much stuck to a “one season equals one calendar year” format, both in the present day continuity, as well as the flashbacks. If things continue at this rate, by the end of Season 5, we will be caught up to where we began in Season 1. Personally, I suspect that they will just begin to slow down by that point (how about flashforwards?). I like the flashbacks as they are right now, but I could see them potentially getting tiresome in a few more years. Perhaps this is putting the cart before the horse a bit, as the show will have to make it to Season 5 for that to even be an issue. I, for one, hope that’s a problem the writers get a chance to solve (#sixseasonsandamovie! Oh wait, that’s a different show).

All this “Arrow” talk has definitely gotten me pumped for the upcoming third season, but there was still more to see and experience at Dragon Con 2014. This article has gotten a tad bit long, so I will be back with more Dragon Con coverage later in the week.

-By Jeff Grantz