From the death of Sara Lance to the complete collapse of Oliver Queen’s personal life and relationships, Arrow took quite a dark turn in its third season and managed to alienate a large portion of its fanbase in the process. The show has been criticized from the beginning for aping popular Batman stories and simply replacing the Dark Knight with the Emerald Archer (despite the fact that Green Arrow is much more fun and light-hearted in the comics), but it went down the “dark and gritty” rabbit hole head first this year with the introduction of Ra’s al Ghul and Oliver’s journey from troubled hero to leader of the League of Assassins.
Arrow‘s season three finale saw our titular vigilante in a much happier place, as he literally drives off into the sunset with Felicity after defeating Ra’s and hanging up the green hood. According to executive producer Marc Guggenheim, that was a very deliberate move to shift gears as the show heads into its fourth season, where it will take on a much lighter tone.
Speaking with io9, Guggenheim said:
“[The show] will take a lighter tone [in season four]. That’s pretty much the only thing I can say without spoiling it. We’ve been working for about a month now in the writers’ room, talking about season 4, and I think that one thing we all collectively understood was season 3 beginning with Sara’s death, because it’s the death of a major character on the show, it set a tone for the remainder of the season.”
I wonder if bringing Arrow into the light is partly a reaction to The Flash, a show that has not shied away from its roots and has managed to tell compelling dramatic character stories while fully embracing the “comic book-y” elements of its titular hero (I mean, we got Gorilla Grodd for crying out loud!). The Flash has become the CW’s most-viewed series of all time, while Arrow‘s numbers faltered this season. Could Arrow be switching gears in order to keep up (no pun intended) with the Scarlet Speedster?
Guggenheim goes on to explain that he’s “not the least bit apologetic” about the dark tone of Arrow, but admits that there needs to be some change to the status quo going forward:
“I happen to like the dark and I like the fact that Arrow is a pretty dark show, particularly for a network show. That said, every year you want to mix things up and there was a sort of collective desire on all of our parts to try to inject a little bit more lightness into the show, a little bit more humor.”
So, does that mean that someone will finally turn on some of the lights in Star City? Not necessarily, as Guggenheim affirms that Arrow is “not going to radically change… but in terms of tone we’re coming off of a very hard season for all of our characters. We wanted to try to mix it up a little bit.”
Despite some Batman Begins-esque grit, Arrow‘s first season struck a nice balance between humor and darkness, so it’s possible for the series to retain its identity while injecting a bit more fun into the proceedings. As someone who wasn’t a fan of season three, I’m glad to hear that things will change next year and hope that we finally get a Green Arrow who’s more than just a repurposed Batman.
Arrow will return for its fourth season this fall on the CW.