On Monday, April 10th, 2017, fans were presented with a couple of tweets indicating that Manu Bennett, the actor who played the character of Slade Wilson in Season 1 through 3, would be returning to Arrow at the end of the season. This is especially exciting if you’ve at all followed the off-screen history between Arrow and Bennett.
— Marc Guggenheim (@mguggenheim) April 10, 2017
While at first glance this may seem like a well overdue return of arguably the best villain in the show’s five seasons, it’s also very confusing as previously the actor has been vocal about displeasure in the handling of Arrow in recent years. While some fans theorized that this was all performance, overall the majority simply assumed this meant there a bridge was burned and we would never see a return of Bennett to the role. This latter theory seemed to be confirmed during Arrow’s 100th episode as Bennett was not among the endless returnees who made cameos for the special. Of course if Dave Hester can return to Storage Wars after a very public exit which involved a lawsuit, anything is possible when it comes to ratings.
So why is this off-screen drama relevant anyway? After all it appears from Stephen Amell and Marc Guggenheim‘s tweets that whatever the truth is, Bennett will return to the role… right? Well shortly after these tweets were made Bennett responded with what appeared to be conflicting information.
For the record – I’m not going back for Arrow! #assumptionisthemotherofall…
— Manu (@manubennett) April 10, 2017
So there we have it, that must mean that in a desperate attempt to salvage Arrow’s recent low ratings, Stephen and Marc attempted to play fans, only for Bennett to call them out.
Once this confusion ensued many began to theorize that perhaps the show would stick in line with episode 100, in the sense that the character would appear but only in “suited up” form. The tweets were chalked up to the notion that the two were poking the bear (Manu) after his history the last couple years. This idea seemed to be confirmed by Marc when he tweeted the following:
Happy to confirm that you will definitely hear the voice of @manubennett in Arrow’s season finale.
— Marc Guggenheim (@mguggenheim) April 13, 2017
With all of the above considered, including Bennett’s denials and also Amell and Guggenheim’s confirmation, we can only surmise that this must mean old previously recorded audio is going to be re-purposed with a body double wearing the Deathstroke costume on camera. This theory is essentially confirmed by Bennett himself.
— Manu (@manubennett) April 13, 2017
Supporting the case further, Bennett isn’t anywhere near the filming location of Vancouver, BC.
— Manu (@manubennett) April 11, 2017
Well there you go, after considering everything it appears that the facts are Stephen Amell and Marc Guggenheim tweeted a misleading return of Bennett to Arrow, Bennett denied it and posted pictures showing that in all reality he is nowhere near the filming location of Vancouver. This has to mean that we are left with our emotions being toyed with and fans will be disappointed to see some sham of a return of old Bennett voice track added to someone else playing the on-screen version of Deathstroke….
Ya right, sure. Like we actually believe that.
Let’s analyze the tweets together now and I’ll walk you through why I believe that while this week has been full of apparently conflicting pieces of information, in reality everyone has told the truth and not a single lie has been told. NOT EVEN ONE LIE.
For time purposes we’ll hop over the initial Tweets by Amell and Guggenheim as they are pretty self explanatory – they welcomed Bennett back to the show. Let’s move on to Manu’s denial. The phrasing is For the record – I’m not going back for Arrow! Analyzing the wording, the grammar is incorrect and likely intentional. If he was actually denying his return to the series, he should have said For the record – I’m not going back TO Arrow! The use of the word for allows for many different potential meanings. For example, perhaps he meant I’m not going back FOR Arrow! I’m going back FOR you, the fans! Or it could be as simple as they aren’t filming his scenes in Vancouver. In this case he meant I’m not going back [to Vancouver] FOR Arrow!
Of course, I personally am a fan of the theory that this is finally proof that all of this negativity toward Arrow in recent years was indeed theater as some had thought. Or alternatively perhaps a deal was worked out, everyone had a pint together and some laughs (who hasn’t had a blow up with someone only to realize later how silly it is and restore that relationship), and now they’re using the past soured grapes to have some fun together with Bennett now actually speaking as Slade Wilson. In this case this phrase could be interpreted as Bennett (speaking as Wilson) saying he’s not going back for the character of Arrow’s benefit, but instead his own or someone else’s. Let’s take a moment to consider, in what extreme circumstances would Slade Wilson in any capacity assist Oliver Queen? You know, the same Oliver Queen he wanted to make suffer. The same Oliver Queen that has kept him confined on a remote island in a prison. The same Oliver Queen that he blames for his love Shado’s death…. Oh. wait a sec, perhaps the answer lays within that last question. In a recent interview EP Wendy Mericle said
“You’re not going to believe who Oliver is working with to defeat Prometheus. It’s going to be really emotional. It’s going to be all about Oliver’s family, but not the family we’re thinking of right now.”
Could this “family” be to do with Shado?
We know that Shado has a twin sister named Mei who we last saw in Season 3; her current status is unknown. Prometheus has done a lot of digging in to Oliver’s past life, so it stands to reason that he also discovered the importance of Shado to Oliver as well as discovering Mei. Perhaps Prometheus even visited Mr. Wilson himself in his prison and that’s where he discovered the Shado-Oliver-Wilson history. Since Oliver discovered Mei after leaving the island (the first time), there’s a chance Wilson had no idea about Mei and accidentally gave Prometheus what he needed – another relationship to make suffer to hurt Oliver. I picture Prometheus acting in some form of typical grandiose bad-guy dialogue with Slade. Probably endlessly going on about how he wanted to hurt Oliver to which Slade takes the bait, talks about how Oliver hurt him with Shado. Wilson goes on and on about his love for Shado, Prometheus double crosses him, leaves him in his prison, and heads off to dig in to Shado’s family thus discovering Mei. Ok, maybe I rambled a bit there but in any case somehow Prometheus found out about Shado and discovered Mei. Since Wilson loved Shado, it stands to reason that if Shado’s family was in danger, he might agree to help Oliver (of course with the intent of the end game being to take revenge on Oliver afterward). So again, he’s not going back FOR Arrow, he’s going back FOR Shado. Important note that in the Flarrowverse there is always potential of Flashpoint changes or time-travel to get a past version of Slade, but given overall this season Arrow has been staying in it’s early season, I suspect both of these are off the board.
Alright, so what about the next string of replies? You have Marc talking about fans hearing the voice of Manu and the actor himself confirming this while also expressing his disappointment in this unauthorized use of his voice. Was that really what was said, or did you just assume that?
The quote itself is
Happy to confirm that you will definitely hear the voice of @manubennett in Arrow’s season finale.
I’d like to point out that every episode of Arrow that I watch I hear the voice of Stephen Amell, but that doesn’t mean I don’t see his face. This same concept can be applied to Marc’s quote in reference to Bennett. Bennett’s response to Guggenheim is also strategically vague
@mguggenheim thank you for that slight clarification BUT isn’t using old pre-recorded ADR for d.s not kosher?
In this quote I believe that the actor is not actually stating that Arrow’s use of pre-recorded ADR is not kosher, instead he’s omitted that to make it just a general comment on a potential practice itself. There is never a connection made that he is referring about ANYTHING to with Arrow in context of his quote.
Alright so what about the latest quote from Bennett where he outright says that they are filming in Vancouver, it’s not him and he’s not even in Vancouver. Let’s analyze that further.
Enough b.s about d.s!!! FACT: Deathstroke #Arrow are currently filming in Vancouver IS NOT ME. I am in Auckland filming #shannarachronicles pic.twitter.com/kkVBOdXlSL
As proved in Episode 100 of Arrow, the beautiful thing about a character where his face is entirely covered, is that you can use the “suited up” version of the character with ANYONE under the costume and you have no idea. Heck, often when we see epic fight scenes in television shows it’s actually stunt doubles. This same quote could be modified to be used by Stephen Amell himself during any day where they’re filming stand-in or stunt-double work for his character. Stephen Amell could easily say “FACT: Green Arrow #Arrow are currently filming in Vancouver IS NOT ME.” and it would be totally accurate. While Manu Bennett may have been in Auckland filming when he wrote that tweet, perhaps back in Vancouver at that time they were filming “suited up” Deathstroke scenes using a stand-in or stunt-double. This again means that his Tweet is completely, totally 100% accurate and truthful. Further clues are within the tweet himself as he speaks about filming another project. This indicates that as an actor Manu Bennett’s time is largely full, so perhaps his schedule just didn’t allow for him to film all the scenes, but was willing to go back to film select ones during a brief break in his schedule (ie unmasked or ones in the A.R.G.U.S. prison). It would be really easy for him to get to Vancouver, film these few scenes in a time crunch and then back in Auckland where he can continue his project. He could also easily record voicework back there to be added over the “suited up” scenes that are filmed without him (you know, the ones in his tweet that he was truthfully speaking about). This process would also in all actuality be very different than if a production company were to use “OLD pre-recorded ADR” (his words) as it is new, authorized, paid and totally above-board ADR. It’s important to remember that often whenever a character is wearing a full-face mask during filming, the odds are that the voice you hear speaking beneath the mask has been recorded after the fact to get the best audio.
In summary, it’s my opinion that this past week has been a glorious PR stunt with actors, producers and creators making a variety of statements which on first glance appear to be conflicting with eachother. The intent was to encourage the exact time of conversation tha we’ve seen this week. The ratings for Arrow have been low this season, and bringing back characters from Arrow’s high-point is in my opinion a smart move to help try to boost them – but only if done right. There’s no point in making such an exciting move (some of which may involve some people eating crow) unless it’s able to bring back some eyes to the show which previous stopped watching Arrow. Starting a confusing back-and-forth Twitter conversation helped create buzz and with that buzz it potentially brings some interest to some viewers who stopped watching. An important key to this situation was making sure no one lied to fans or else there was a risk of never being trusted again which could have cause further decent (see: Star Trek Into Darkness). Through all of the various tweets this week, I believe no one has lied, they have simply walked a line where when assumptions are inaccurately made, we’re lead to believe that the character of Deathstroke is returning without Bennett. But as Manu said in his first tweet which kicked off this confusion: #assumptionisthemotherofall…
If you like Arrow and want to hear more about it as well as the rest of the Flarrowverse, check out The Starling Tribune, the Arrow podcast on the GonnaGeek Network.
Edited April 14, 2017 at 6:54pm Pacific Time for grammar corrections, better clarification and also quote formatting.
Tags: Arrow, Manu Bennett, Slade Wilson