As its name would suggest, the Arrow-verse started in 2012 with Arrow's grounded, gritty world of street-level crime fighting. That's the show we fell in love with; the character of Oliver Queen simply works best when he's kicking ass and taking names in a realistic way. Now it seems that the folks behind the series have completely realized that. In fact, Arrow executive producer Wendy Mericle recently explained how other depictions of the Russian mafia influenced the gritty realism of Arrow's Season 5 fight scenes. She elaborated:
Everyone on staff watched Eastern Promises. I watched documentaries about Bratva and how they operate in Russian prisons... We're dealing with the Bratva, and the Bratva is, as we all know, a pretty interesting and messed-up institution. I might get shot for saying that, but hey!
As far as inspiration goes, that's a pretty damn good source. Wendy Mericle recently told TVLine that the team behind Arrow did their homework, and made sure to make the violent nature of the Bratva as brutal and accurate as possible. In addition to several documentaries, they also watched the David Cronenberg film Eastern Promises, which helped teach them how to properly depict the vicious nature of how real life Russian gangs operate -- particularly in a prison environment. This gritty realism will go a long way when Oliver faces off against some serious foes in the flashbacks, such as Dolph Lundgren's "government strongman" character. There will be blood, Arrow fans.
Mericle went on to state that she jokingly worries that her comments and depiction of the Russian mob could lead to reprisals from the real Bratva at some point. Let's hope it doesn't come to that in the end, but if it does we will probably know that the Arrow team nailed it. Anything for art.
Eastern Promises, has become iconic for its brutal depiction of the Russian mafia's ruthlessness and cunning. In particular, arguably the film's most well known scene is an absolutely brutal hand-to-hand fight between a naked Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen) and two hitmen in a bathhouse sauna. It's an undeniably visceral scene that completely eschews style and flair in favor of unrelenting violence.
Normally this would be where I show you a quick clip from the aforementioned fight sequence, but I'm not going to do that here. If you've seen Eastern Promises you will instantly understand why I won't. It's beyond NSFW. Just know this: if this is the direction that Arrow is headed, then expect some of the most intense fight scenes from the series to date. In this writer's opinion, that's a good thing.
We will keep you up to date with any and all relevant details related to the upcoming season of Arrow (as well as everything else related to the Arrow-verse) as more information becomes available to us. The Emerald Archer' solo series will return to The CW on Wednesday, October 5 at 8 p.m. EST. Until then, make sure to check out our fall TV premiere schedule and fill out your calendars accordingly.