Interview: Brandon Routh Talks Arrow and Suiting Up as Atom

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Brandon Routh joined the cast of “Arrow” this season as Ray Palmer. Comic book fans know Ray Palmer as The Atom, and sure enough, Routh’s Palmer revealed his plans to build a powered suit named A.T.O.M. We’ll see how quickly Palmer suits up when “Arrow” returns January 21, but now we know that Routh has already tried the A.T.O.M. suit on.

The CW brought the casts of “The Flash” and “Arrow” to speak with the Television Critics Association and we got a one on one with Routh. Right after our interview, Routh joined a panel for “The Flash” and “Arrow” where producers said they were considering an A.T.O.M. spinoff. If that happens, we’ve got an early interview with the next DC universe star, but for now at least, the next superhero to join the ever-expanding “Arrow” universe.

SuperHeroHype: Superman Returns was before Geoff Johns became CCO of DC. Did you have a relationship with him back then?

Brandon Routh: No, he was not, to my knowledge anyway, involved. I think that was maybe at the beginning of all his involvement. We actually met for the first time in person yesterday. He’s awesome.

SHH: Does the DC world feel different in the television milieu they’ve created than the film world?

Routh: That’s a hard question. Just TV and film are different animals, but I definitely feel that DC, Warner Bros. and CW are handling the television entities in a great way, with “Arrow” and “Flash” really creating a great world and supporting the characters really well. The way they’re making the effects so seamless, with Firestorm taking off and that looking so cool. A.T.O.M.’s hologram suit looking totally legit, it’s feeling really pretty epic.

SHH: So we’ve seen the A.T.O.M. plans. How do you feel about the prospect of putting on another costume?

Routh: It’s cool. I was a little wary at first. I never really thought that I’d play another hero in the DC world having played kind of the pinnacle of them all. But it’s been a lot of fun bringing Ray to life. The suit is pretty awesome and very different than Superman’s suit, so I’m excited about the potential of actually being out and being seen moving, getting into action with it.

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SHH: When you got the role of Ray Palmer, did you start reading Atom comics?

Routh: I did, because I didn’t really know too much about Atom before. It wasn’t essential because the character is being re-envisioned a little bit for the show, but it’s great for me to be able to understand the history and there’s a couple different iterations of it. Like, right now I’m reading “Sword of the Atom,” which is a cool series in the early ‘80s where actually he doesn’t really even size change that much because he’s afraid he might blow up because of what’s happening. What remains is his brain in all the thing, his leadership quality that he has that exists in both what we’re creating now and what’s in the comics of what I’ve read.

SHH: He was never a corporate executive.

Routh: No, that’s totally a new thing to make him able to take over Queen Consolidated. That adds another cool go-getter aspect to him which I think is fun, which is where a lot of his passion and energy comes into the fact that he’s a self-made man in this way. He’s created this huge empire for himself. Now that he’s reached the pinnacle, what is he going to do? He had this tragedy in his life and now he’s going to give back. It’s a cool story.

SHH: He comes across as very sincere, and that might just be because of you and our associations with you. Obviously he’s earned Felicity’s trust, she believes in him. Do you feel he’s sincere or are you throwing some shade at us?

Routh: [Laughs] No, for me it’s absolutely sincere until the writers or producers tell me otherwise. To a fault, I’m sincere to a fault with my characters. I want them all to be the good guy. It’s hard for me to turn the bad guy on, because I just want to be the good guy intrinsically. I think it’s one of the reasons for casting me too is the history that I bring with me as Brandon. You really feel like this guy is here to stay and that even though they put this little edge on him of he’s hounding Felicity to get him to work for him, I don’t think he’s too much of a jerk or crazy person. As far as sincerity, I think everything he’s doing is out of sincerity at this point.

SHH: When you got the role, did they tell you it would eventually come to fruition as Atom/A.T.O.M. or was it just Ray Palmer?

Routh: No, they told me that Ray Palmer would become Atom at some point. When that happens, who knows, but that was the eventuality.

SHH: Have they taken your measurements for potential costumes?

Routh: Oh yeah, we’re into it. You’ll definitely see the suit before the end of the season.

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SHH: Have you tried it on already?

Routh: I have. It’s pretty epic. It’s very cool. I’m very excited.

SHH: It looks so technological because he’s inventing it, so does it feel different than the Superman suit?

Routh: The basis of the suit, all those suits are kind of similar. They have that same tight fitting quality that are kind of inherent in pretty much everything, if only just to make everything else, all the other layers on top fit snugly and look good. So there’s that aspect of it but it’s a very powerful feeling. The best way to describe it is it’s an Iron Man/RoboCop-ish feel, but different from all those too. Like, something you haven’t seen, exoskeleton as you can see from the hologram, that’s pretty badass.

SHH: Have you done action in it yet?

Routh: Just like moving, trying to see how it feels, if it’s grabbing, if it’s tight. Because I’m going to be in it for some time, we want it to be as comfortable as possible. So jumping around, a little light jog. It’s a whole different deal.

SHH: Have you worked on any of the shrinking effects yet?

Routh: There’s been none of that right now. I don’t even know what the capabilities of the suit are other than that it makes me look cool. Everything’s gone into just building the suit first. Everything else comes after.

SHH: I loved Superman Returns, but what DC is doing in the film world now is so ambitious with Batman v Superman and Justice League with all the standalone characters. Have you been impressed to watch what direction they’re going in?

Routh: I think they’ve got a big slate now. They’ve said this movie’s coming, this movie’s coming out, which I think is good. It gives them a bar to go and you have to make sure you reach the bar. So I think that’s cool and having a strong path is [important]. When it started out, everyone said, “Oh, superhero movies, they’re doing well. Okay, now they’re doing really well.” Now having a plan helps everyone feel more confident that they’re going towards something, just like the TV side is building bigger and bigger. There’s Flash. What comes next? There’s all these other DC properties on other networks popping up and really strengthening the brand and the DC universe.

SHH: I have to ask, have you seen Man of Steel?

Routh: I did, yes. I think Henry did a great job.

“Arrow” returns Wednesday January 21 at 8 P.M. EST.