Moderator Kevin Smith began the panel for the CW’s “Heroes & Aliens” PaleyFest panel with a heartfelt story of the impact comic books had on him as a kid, and the skepticism he felt when he first heard about the CW’s production of “Arrow.”
“It took me a long time to buy into the CW shows,” recalled the director and comic book superfan. But he’s clearly gotten over it, given that he has gone on to direct for both “The Flash” and “Supergirl.”
“I found something in these shows that I haven’t felt since I was a kid.” Smith revealed. “These people are telling amazing stories — that deserve to be honored, as we’re going to honor them right now.”
Present for the event were Stephen Amell and David Ramsey (“Arrow”), Grant Gustin and Candice Patton (“The Flash”), Brandon Routh and Caity Lotz (“Legends of Tomorrow”) and Melissa Benoist and David Harewood (“Supergirl”) alongside executive producers Mark Guggenheim, Wendy Mericle, Todd and Aaron Helbing, Phil Klemmer and Andrew Kreisberg.
The team was there to celebrate the epic first four-episode crossover event for all the series, as well as discuss the evolution of the “Arrow”-verse and upcoming episodes — including the “Supergirl” and “The Flash” crossover musical episode, which executive producer Andrew Kreisberg politely referred to as a “gimmick episode.”
The discussion began with team “Arrow,” and executive producer Marc Guggenheim recalling his first appearance at PaleyFest. “I remember being here at PaleyFest, and one of the questions being, ‘Will there ever be superpowers on ‘Arrow’? recalled Guggenheim. “And in all sincerity, we said, ‘No, there will never be.'” One hundred episodes and three crossovers later and “Arrow” has become the foundation for the CW’s DC Universe, which features no shortage of special abilities.
When the panel shifted towards the “The Flash” team, Kreisberg revealed that the next season of “The Flash” would not feature a speedster villain (after doing so for the first three seasons). Afterward, Gustin defended his characters’ decisions including altering the timeline yet again and turning John Diggle’s daughter into a son— much to the dismay of Ramsey who jokingly voiced his displeasure. Gustin did offer a sincere apology to Ramsey however.
Patton, whose character Smith referred to as “the one true superhero without superpowers,” knows full well the importance of her characters’ humanity. “That’s one of the things that I love so much about Iris West. The question I get most is ‘do you want her to have powers?’ responded Patton. “And while I would love to say, ‘Yes, I’d love to strap some leather on,’ I love that she provides this human quality to this very superhuman show. It’s something that our audience can all identify with.”
Caity Lotz noted the “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’s” place as the “misfits” of the “Arrow”-verse, just before Smith asked Routh what he believed to be the most important question of the afternoon: Does the Atom costume have a “dick door”? Unsurprisingly and perhaps disappointingly to Smith, the costume does not, in fact, have a “dick door,” according to Routh. Instead, it’s a complicated system that involves removing portions of the armor.
Ultimately, the most endearing topic of the panel came when Smith turned the conversation to the team behind “Supergirl,” Executive producer Andrew Kreisberg noted the shift in storytelling that took place once the show moved from CBS to The CW for its second season — primarily its tackling of more grounded concerns.
“It was always sort of built in that the show could take on issues,” noted Kreisberg. “When we were crafting this season, we were talking about a lot of what was going on in the world, in terms of immigration, in terms of journalism, in terms of LGBT rights, and we realized that this show — and this cast, more than anything else — could handle mixing that real world stuff into a superhero world,” said Kresiberg. “I was as proud of the episodes that touched on that as anything I’ve done in my career.”
Since moving to the CW, “Supergirl” has been praised for its progressive storylines, ranging from immigration to LGBT rights. In fact, as pointed out by Smith, the show was recently nominated for a GLAAD Award for its inclusion of lesbian characters Alex Danvers, played by Chyler Leigh, and Maggie Sawyer, played by Floriana Lima.
Kreisberg noted the importance of representation for those struggling with acceptance when asked about the relationship between Alex and Maggie. “If we made someone feel a little less alone in the world for 42 minutes, that’s really special,” Kreisberg replied.
Of course, Supergirl herself, Melissa Benoist, now finds herself in the position to be a role model for millions of young girls — a position she seemed to be overwhelmed by at first, but is now a mantle she takes on proudly.
“I think I was overwhelmed by that prospect in my first season, and now, especially with what’s happening in the world — I got to go to the Women’s March in DC — it’s so meaningful,” Benoist responded. “Especially for Supergirl. Her motto is hope, help, and compassion. I think that’s such an important message to spread.”
“Supergirl,” airs Mondays at 9 p.m.,”The Flash” and “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” air on Tuesdays and “Arrow” on Wednesday at 8 p.m. on The CW.