‘Arrow’ Producers Reveal Season 4’s Big Plans for Stephen Amell’s Oliver, Felicity, Damien Darhk

Executive producers Marc Guggenheim and Wendy Mericle also tease two-part crossover with “The Flash”

It’s taken four seasons, but Oliver Queen is finally making the transition from vigilante to Green Arrow in Season 4 of The CW’s DC comic-book adaptation “Arrow.”

The revelation comes early in the season, and it’s a change that will set the tone for the year, which will see Oliver (Stephen Amell) lose some of the darkness that has plagued him since that catastrophic boat journey that kicked off the show.

“We definitely did want to come into the season and change the tone — it is the fourth season and we did want to change things up — but we’re kind of excited that it’s grown out of who Oliver is,” said executive producer Wendy Mericle. “He’s happier now, he’s in love with Felicity, he’s no longer the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder suffering soldier he was in the first three seasons, and that’s really where it’s coming from. We want it to still play very much as part of the fabric of the show.”

Below, Mericle and fellow EP Marc Guggenheim tease the season’s big bad, changes for Team Arrow and the annual crossover event with “The Flash.”

1. Damien Darhk
“Arrow” has a tradition of slow-burning their season-long villains, who are often cast in shadows, with their true intentions hidden until several episodes in, but Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) is a far cry from that.

Season 4’s Big Bad is revealed in the very first episode to have completely nefarious plans for the newly renamed Star City, and he revels in just how evil he really is.

“The thing we said to him was, ‘You’re not only evil, but you enjoy being evil,'” said Guggenheim. “There’s a real glimmer in his eye whenever he’s putting the screws to somebody. It is something we haven’t seen on the show before. That’s one of the reasons why we wanted to go in this direction. In Malcolm, in Ra’s, in Slade – they all thought they were doing the right thing. They had their own nobility. Not so much with Damien. Damien really could give a fuck whether or not you think he’s noble.”

2. This is the season of Green Arrow
Oliver Queen’s transformation from the Hood, to Arrow, to now Green Arrow, has been a four-season long process.

“Last year it was ‘Am I the Arrow or Oliver Queen?’ This year’s it’s, ‘Okay, I’m the Green Arrow and I’m Oliver Queen. How can I be both at the same time?'” said Guggenheim.

“We’re hoping it will be a change and [the Star City public] will embrace him,” added Mericle. “But it’s not going to be easy, we can’t make it easy for him. It’s speaking to him trying to be more of an inspiration and less of the judge, jury and executioner we’ve seen in the past.”

3. Felicity Smoak
After a third season in which she had to watch the man she loved confess his love to her, only to become an enemy she despised, Felicity Smoak’s trademark sunny personality is back, “with a vengeance,” said Guggenheim. It’s quite fitting, in keeping with the lighter tone of the season.

“I mean, she’s so funny,” the EP continued. “Emily is on the top of her game; she’s hysterical. We’re definitely writing jokes for her, but she’s finding humor in lines that aren’t intentionally humorous. She’s really dialed in.”

4. A more democratic Team Arrow
With Oliver’s abandonment of his post as the vigilante watching over Star(ling) City at the end of Season 3, Laurel, Diggle and Thea have had to step up in his absence.

“Oliver can’t walk away and expect that Diggle and Laurel and Thea have not found a new dynamic, a new way of working,” said Mericle. “They’re all very capable, so that creates a very different way of doing the show, it puts Oliver in a different position vis a vis the team, which we found very interesting.”

5. The “Arrow”-“Flash” crossover is officially an annual event
While all EPs initially downplayed the possibility and frequency of crossovers when “The Flash” first premiered, it seems they’ve embraced them as something that really works for both shows and that fans love.

“We will certainly do our annual big crossover, which will be episode 8,” said Guggenheim. “It’ll be like last year’s in the sense that we’re crossing over both shows and a big chunk of both casts. It’ll be a bit more of a two-parter than last year’s was, but beyond that we’ve made deals for all the different actors for crossing over characters and crossing over moments… you saw Barry in the season premiere, so we’ll sort of find our spots… we really try to do it when its motivated by a story, when you got a good reason to do it. If you do it all the time these crossovers become less special. These last ones nearly killed us.”

“Arrow” returns for Season 4 on Wednesday, Oct. 7 at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.