Arrow isn’t usually one to court controversy, though eyebrows understandably raised with yesterday’s Season 4 casting of DC supervillain Baron Blitzkrieg, not only for the character’s notable Nazi affiliation, but in casting actor Jimmy Akingbola for the role. Now, Arrow showrunner Marc Guggenheim explains how the Nazi elements will be dropped, also teasing Oliver’s new flashback journey.

Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Guggenheim offered that Akingbola’s villainous character will utilize the comic name of “Baron Reiter,” but otherwise drop most other associations with his Nazi counterpart, save for one notable DC comics organization:

[I want to] disabuse people of the notion that we cast a black man as a Nazi, because that’s not actually what we did. We wanted a really great villain for Oliver in the flashbacks. We wanted to come out of the gate strong with someone great and we wanted to, quite frankly, cast the best actor. As it turns out, our best actor was African-American.

We took the name Baron Reiter without any intention of turning him into Baron Blitzkrieg. Baron Blitzkrieg is the evil Nazi super villain. Baron Reiter is not going to become Baron Blitzkrieg in the show.

We never planned on actually telling a story about a bad guy who is a Nazi. In fact, when people meet this character, he’s not German, he’s not a Nazi, he doesn’t subscribe to any Nazi philosophies. We were attracted to an organization that actually in the comics had been associated with Deathstroke called Shadowspire. In the comics, Baron Reiter became associated with Shadowspire.

Still, Guggenheim hesitates to elaborate too much on Baron Reiter’s association with Oliver in flashbacks, as doing so might spoil the Season 4 premiere. We last saw Flashback Oliver bound for Coast City, notable DC home to the Green Lantern, though Guggenheim teases that the future Green Arrow will venture to unexpected places:

We haven’t told anyone anything about the flashbacks, but this was so obviously not our intention to do Baron Blitzkreig. If we were, in fact, doing a Nazi being played by an African American, I would expect us to be very duly Internet chastised.

We have a really great surprise for the season premiere for the flashbacks, and it’s made talking about the flashbacks very difficult. We pick up basically in real time. It’s been a number of months later since the last flashback. Oliver is in Coast City, as eagle-eyed viewers noted when he boarded the boat at the end of season 3. What happens there and how he comes to cross with Reiter, that we need to keep secret because it would spoil a pretty big twist in episode 401.

Elsewhere of Arrow Season 4, we know the fourth year is expected to somewhat creatively revamp the series after its Season 3 finale saw Oliver retiring the vigilante lifestyle, at least with his current costume. In addition to a focus on DC villains H.I.V.E. and Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough), Season 4 will also introduce Echo Kellum’s Mr. Terrific, and Alexander Calvert’s Anarky, and White Canary before her Legends of Tomorrow role. Apart from Wendy Mericle’s elevation to co-showrunner alongside Marc Guggenheim, we also know that Punisher: War Zone director Lexi Alexander will helm an episode.

We’ll surely see more of Arrow Season 4 as production gears up in Vancouver, but what might Baron Reiter change up about the flashbacks? Will the fourth year shake things up enough to recover from Season 3?

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