Though there will be contenders this fall both new (Gotham, The Flash) and old (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), CW’s Arrow currently holds the crown for television’s best superhero series. The show’s Comic-Con panel over the weekend did little to diminish the belief that it’s a title that showrunners Marc Guggenheim, Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg are keen to hold on to through next year and beyond (though the latter two will also be helming The Flash).
The first step in that direction was to introduce a villain worthy of the legacy that Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) and Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett) had established in Arrow’s first two seasons. Guggenheim, Berlanti and Kreisberg certainly did that, teasing Ra’s al Ghul — name-checked frequently in Season 2 and perhaps best known to audiences as Liam Neeson’s villainous character in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins — at the conclusion of the Season 3 trailer. Whether Ra’s will immediately establish himself as the season’s big bad villain is unclear. Mention has been made of his bad blood with Oliver Queen’s nemesis Malcolm Merlyn, but it remains to be seen which of the two villains is a greater threat to Starling City. (Ra’s introduction also makes it likely we’ll see more of his daughter, Nyssa, as well as the recently departed Sara Lance.)
A little closer to home, Stephen Amell, who plays Oliver, says much of his focus for this season will be figuring out whether Oliver is able to balance his job as The Arrow with his life as Oliver. That’s been a struggle since the show’s first episode, but Oliver has yet to be put in a position where he really must choose between the two. Even if that moment doesn’t arrive in Season 3, it’s clear that the producers intend it to be a constant struggle at the forefront of the audience’s minds.
Oliver’s sister, Thea (Willa Holland), will also face some hurdles of her own. When we last saw her, she was riding off in a limo with Malcolm, her biological father, and appeared none too eager to return to Starling City in the immediate future. Of course she’ll have to come back eventually, because that’s how things work, but Holland indicated there would be some changes apparent in the youngest Queen upon her return: “The Thea that you guys saw in Season 1 and Season 2 is not the girl coming back in Season 3.”
Also arriving in Starling City this season is The Atom, played by Brandon Routh, who many will recognize as Superman from Bryan Singer’s 2006 version. Though his alter ego, Ray Palmer, will be a bidder for Queen Consolidated, it’s not yet apparent how The Atom will factor into the season’s developments.
A few other moments of note from the trailer: Roy (Colton Haynes) has a cool new outfit and seems to be doing just fine without the mirakuru; Oliver doesn’t seem to want Diggle (David Ramsey) in the field anymore for some as-yet-revealed reason; and Oliver will be taking Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) on a date (spoiler alert from Amell: it goes “horribly.”)
Perhaps most intriguingly, producers also revealed that this season will feature a double-crossover episode between Arrow and The Flash (the former airs Wednesdays, the latter Tuesdays), and that Oliver will appear in The Flash pilot.
Arrow returns on Oct. 8 on the CW.