The 'Arrow' TV series is coming back to the CW network for Season Three, and spoilers have been coming out of the woodwork. Here is a rundown of latest developments. Be warned, there are plenty of spoilers ahead.
Hong Kong Will Feature Prominently in Oliver Flashbacks
Stephen Amell, who plays series protagonist Oliver Queen, recently sat down for a Q&A session with fans at the Phoenix Comicon that was held last weekend.
A fan asked if the series' island flashbacks were filmed before production began on the present-day scenes.
"No, we filmed the island scenes in coordination with the episodes as we go," Amell replied. "Generally speaking, we have what we call an 'island day', or for Season Three (spoiler alert) a 'Hong Kong' day."
Viewers whom have seen the Season Two Finale, "Unthinkable", will remember that it ended in a flashback sequence that shows Oliver mysteriously waking up in an old Hong Kong apartment. Armed men lead Oliver outside, where he meets A.R.G.U.S. Director Amanda Waller. The scene hints that Oliver may have been an unwilling A.R.G.U.S. operative during his years in exile.
In truth, the 'Arrow' is primarily filmed in Vancouver, Canada. So, the Hong Kong skyline will likely be recreated using digitally-rendered matte painting.
More Batman Villains May Join the 'Arrow' Season Three Cast Lineup
In the same Q&A session at the Phoenix Comicon, Amell raised the possibility that a number of Batman villains will be in the Season Three cast lineup. This revelation comes as no surprise given that the 'Arrow' character is already an established part of the DC Comics universe, of which Batman also occupies.
A young fan earlier asked Amell the name of Season Two's villain, to which Amell replied, "Deathstroke."
"I thought he was a Batman villain," the child retorted. Amell appeared speechless as the audience roared into laughter.
"Tell you what," Amell eventually replied. "If you like some of the enemies Batman has fought, you're really going to like Season Three."
Amell did not say whether the series was adding new Batman villains, or simply bringing back the ones from previous seasons. Deathstroke and the vast majority of villains in the 'Arrow' series have technically crossed paths with Batman in the comics. This means the television series already has a long lineup of 'Batman' villains.
So-called 'Batman' villains who cameoed in the 'Arrow' include Deadshot, Bronze Tiger, and Shrapnel -- all three of whom were later conscripted into the Suicide Squad, a secretive government task force that handles high-risk deniable operations. Shrapnel is executed by Amanda Waller in the sixteenth episode, after he tries to run away during a mission.
Other DC villains in 'Arrow' have included the League of Assassins, led by the mysterious Ra's al Ghul. In episode thirteen, "Heir to the Demon", the Assassins converge on Starlight City to retrieve renegade-member Sara Lance. Ra's does not appear in any of the 'Arrow' episodes, and it is his daughter Nyssa who travels to the city instead.
Malcom Merlyn Returns as 'Dark Arrow'
John Barrowman, who plays Malcolm Merlyn, will be a recurring villain in Season Three. This tidbit was revealed by Manu Bennett, who stars as Slade Wilson (codename Deathstroke), during a speech at the Florida MegaCon back in May.
Malcolm was the CEO of the Merlyn Global Group by day, and the villainous 'Dark Archer' by night in Season One. He seemingly dies after an epic battle with the Green Arrow, but has actually faked his death. In Season Two, Malcolm returns to Starlight City, but does not play the prominent supervillain role.
Complicating matters, Malcolm is father to Oliver's deceased best friend Tommy. In a confusing plot-twist befitting a soap opera, Oliver's mother had an affair with Malcolm -- giving birth to a girl who turns out to be Oliver's beloved sister Thea. In other words, Thea is both Oliver's and Tommy's half-sister. At the end of the second season, Thea joins her biological father, Malcolm. So, it is possible that she returns to Season Three as a minor villain.
Having received training from the League of Assassins, Malcolm is a formidable opponent who displays great cunning and deadly combat proficiency. With that said, he is going to be Oliver's greatest threat in the next season.
Laurel May Be the New Black Canary
Reminiscent of a 'Bachelors' episode gone wrong, Oliver has had a wide variety of love interests in the entire series.
At various points, he courted the two Lance sisters Laurel and Sara. Laurel becomes an assistant district attorney in Starling City, while younger sibling Sara joins the League of Assassins. After Sara runs away from the Assassins, she returns to Starling City and becomes the masked vigilante 'Black Canary'. At the end of Season Two, Sara rejoins the Assassins on her own free will -- leaving behind her Black Canary leather jacket to Laurel.
Many fans have speculated that Laurel may be the next Black Canary in Season Three. This theory is based on the established DC Comics mythology that inspired the 'Arrow' series. In the comic series, for instance, the original Black Canary was named Dinah Laurel Lance. Dinah also happens to have had a longstanding romantic relationship with the comic-book Oliver Queen.
This raises the possibility that Laurel Lance of the television series may be the next Black Canary, even though this cannot be confirmed until after the third season debuts.
Season Three of the 'Arrow' is scheduled for a premier date in Fall 2014 on the CW network.