UPDATED with video: Arrow will notch its eighth and final season this fall, but on Saturday the CW’s linchpin superhero show bid an emotional early farewell to fans at Comic-Con International, the place where the show started its success story. A surprise guest also flew in (figuratively) to the delight of fans in Ballroom 20: Brandon Routh, the title star of Superman Returns (2006) who will reprise the role with an Arrow appearance in Season 8.
Routh, also an alumnus of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, unbuttoned his shirt to reveal the red “S” logo of Superman (specifically the one worn in the landmark comics series Kingdom Come) which delighted fans. The biggest cheers, however, were reserved for Amell, who was visibly struggling to hold back tears as his fellow cast members took turns paying tribute to the hard-working title star of the superhero series that has been the foundation for an entire television superhero universe.
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The panel, which also showed off a sizzle real and some teases for the final season (see it below) featured star Amell (Oliver Queen, aka, the Green Arrow), Katie Cassidy (Laurel Lance), David Ramsey (John Diggle), Juliana Harkavy (Dinah Drake), and Rick Gonzalez (Rene Ramirez). Also on stage: showrunner Marc Guggenheim and director and former fight coordinator James “Bam” Bamford.
“This show doesn’t exist without him,” Cassidy said. “I’m so proud of him and so impressed with him.” “A true leader,” Harkavy said, before getting a bit misty-eyed.
“There would not be any superhero universe on TV — not just DC Universe, any superhero universe, after Smallville without Stephen Amell,” who added that Amell’s conditioning is epic. “Muscles on his ear lobes,” Ramsey said.
The Canadian actor said the whirlwind day at Comic-Con alternated between the gusto of a victory lap and the pangs of a misty-eyed farewell.
Television’s oldest active primetime superhero series is the bullseye-center of the CW’s interconnected DC Comics franchises (hence their collective name, the Arrowverse): The Flash, Supergirl, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and, soon, Batwoman. (Black Lightning, another CW adaptation of a DC property, is separate from the shared universe of the other five. Constantine was an Arrowverse show but it gave up the ghost in 2015 after a single season.)
The Arrowverse series have collectively aired more than 460 episodes of television to date, something that no one would have predicted when Amell suited up for the Arrow pilot in 2012. It’s a staggering achievement, in some ways, and Comic-Con was a front and center experience for Amell and Arrow in a big way during the earliest days of the project.
Arrow premiered in October 2012 but the show had already participated in two Comic-Con panels by that point — the producers and network had deemed the fan constituency that essential to the show’s launch. The first panel was in July 2011, just two months after Smallville finished up its decade-long run (which still stands as the longest tenure of any live-action series based on DC Comics characters).
Arrow was a sharp pivot into a darker tone that was clearly informed by the mood and aesthetic of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight feature-film franchise. Amell’s character, Oliver Queen, had been portrayed by Justin Hartley on Smallville and the Arrow team was anxious about fans embracing the new stoic version of the archer.
There was certainly no doubt about the fan passion for Amell and his portrayal of Queen on Saturday.
Here’s the sizzle reel: