'Arrow' gives Oliver Queen's alter-ego a mask -- EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS

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Image Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW

Oliver Queen will soon be a masked hero.

EW has your exclusive first look at Arrow’s brand new mask, which will make its debut on the show come December. But why the change? According to executive producer Andrew Kreisberg, the answer is multi-faceted. “Conceptually, it was something we wanted to do because Oliver himself is evolving as the Arrow–  from vigilante to hero, sort of from Arrow to Green Arrow — and we wanted to see that progression in his costume as well,” he said. “As Oliver is embracing being a hero, being a hero means stepping out of the dark and being more of a symbol, so he has to take steps to conceal his identity more.”

Adding a mask also comes with logistical benefits, he said. In the second season, Oliver has found himself working much more closely with several people who don’t know his true identity — like Laurel’s father Det. Lance, for example — and it was getting harder and harder to believably hide Oliver’s face under the hood. “It’s going to allow the Arrow to interact with people who don’t know his identity in a much more organic way than having him constantly keep his head down,” says Kreisberg.

Costume designer Maya Mani put together roughly 50 mask options for the producers before they landed on the dark green design you see in these exclusive photos. Kreisberg credits exec producer Greg Berlanti for steering them toward simplicity. “A lot of our early attempts were very, shall I say, Joel Schumacher-esque. And it was really Greg who said not to overcomplicate it,” he said. “And I think what’s so wonderful about the design that Maya came up with is that it really is very simple, and it feels as if it’s been part of his costume since the beginning…once we finally had this mask and put it on Stephen [Amell], even Stephen was like, ‘This is the right one.’”

The Arrow team has flirted with the idea of a mask since the pilot, Kreisberg reveals, but at that moment, there were time constraints and concerns about putting a masked hero before a new audience. “For all of the work that went into creating his mask, those are all the reasons we didn’t do it when we did the pilot,” he said, “and also, sometimes, people have this knee-jerk reaction to seeing somebody in a mask. ‘Oh, that’s silly.’ But I think that now that people see how serious the show is and how grounded it is, the mask is going to feel like a natural evolution.”

The mask addition will be seen in the Dec. 11 episode of Arrow, and the change will be addressed on-screen, says Kreisberg. “He doesn’t just put on a mask. It’s actually a big plot point in an episode, and there really is a story behind, not only the need for the mask but also who provides him with it,” he says. “It’s going to be a little bit of a surprise, and once they see how the mask comes into creation, I think people will be really excited about it.”

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Image Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW

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