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TV Legends Revealed | Did ‘Arrow’ Nearly Feature Blue Beetle Instead of Atom?


TV URBAN LEGEND: Originally, Blue Beetle was going to take over Queen Consolidated on Arrow instead of the Atom.

When it comes to writing an ongoing TV series, there are always going to be obstacles that get in the way of the story you’re trying to tell. We’ve spotlighted a number of these over the years, from one of your stars dying to discovering the actor you hired to play John Lennon in your TV movie has the same name as the guy who killed John Lennon. Heck, current Arrow executive producer Marc Guggenheim was even a staff member on The Practice when creator David E. Kelley was dealing with a massive obstacle on his other show, Ally McBeal, where Ally was set to marry Robert Downey Jr.’s Larry Paul right before Kelley had to write out the character (check out this old TV Legends Revealed to find out why).

In the case of TV shows like Arrow and The Flash, however, the showrunners have to keep in mind that they are dealing with licensed properties, and as a result, certain characters might unexpectedly become unavailable to them. One of these incidents led to the introduction of Brandon Routh’s Ray Palmer on the current season of Arrow. Find out how Routh could have possibly played the Blue Beetle instead!

In the first two seasons of Arrow, there were a few mentions of Ted Kord, owner of Kord Industries. In a flashback to 2007 in Season 1’s “The Undertaking,” Oliver Queen’s parents Moira and Robert attended a fundraiser hosted by Ted Kord. In both Season 1 and 2, there were quick “Easter egg”-style appearances of Kord Industries logos. In Season 2’s “Time of Death,” we learn that the villainous William Tockman (The Clock King) used to work for Kord Enterprises.


In DC Comics lore, besides being a successful businessman and inventor, Kord also became the superhero Blue Beetle, using technology (like a giant beetle-shaped flying ship and a non-lethal gun that shoots compressed air) and his athleticism to fight crime. On a show like Arrow, which until its recent crossover with The Flash, tended to eschew characters with outright superpowers and instead feature non-powered players like Oliver Queen, Canary and Arsenal (or chemically enhanced characters like Cyrus Gold or Deathstroke), Ted Kord and the Blue Beetle would fit in quite nicely.

And that, in fact, was the plan for Season 3. Ted Kord and Kord Industries would take over Queen Consolidated and presumably as the season went on, we would eventually see Ted become the Beetle (I can’t say for certain the second part would have happened, of course, as it never got that far). When asked about it during Comic-Con International, one of Arrow‘s other executive producers, Andrew Kreisberg replied that they asked DC Comics for permission to use Ted Kord but they were told the company had “other plans” for the character. DC suggested they use Ray Palmer (the size-changing superhero known as the Atom) instead, and Kresiberg told the crowd, “we said that would work better!”


Guggenheim was recently asked on his blog how things changed between their original idea for Ted Kord and their current plans for Ray Palmer. Here is the question and Guggenheim’s response:

Q: We know you wanted to bring on Ted Kord originally, before picking Ray Palmer. Would he have been the same character on the show as Ray is now (similar character, similar storyline, etc.) or is Ray’s general storyline for this season something you developped specifically once you had the DC greenlight?

A: A mix of the two, I’d say.

It doesn’t appear to me that the actor who plays Ray Palmer on Arrow, Brandon Routh, was cast before they decided to go the Atom route.

I’m enjoying Ray Palmer on Arrow, but I can’t say that I wouldn’t have enjoyed Ted Kord as well, so I don’t know if this ultimately a change for the better, but either way, the Arrow showrunners are making it work.

The legend is…

STATUS: Basically True

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is

Be sure to check out my Entertainment Urban Legends Revealed for more urban legends about the worlds of TV, Movies and Music!


  • David Vandervliet

    yeah, everything about the character on Arrow screams Ted Kord, he was probably tied up with the proposed SyFy Booster Gold series.

    A shame, as much as I like Palmer and Routh on Arrow. I think I would have enjoyed Ted more.

  • Ian Brandt

    I feel like Ted Kord would have been a much better fit for the show, unfortunately, in terms of the show’s limitations and capabilities. I really hope that they have the special effects budget to really make Atom work. If not, it’ll be a real shame that they squandered Atom like that.
    On another note, I’d be extremely surprised if we didn’t see Captain Atom pop up at some point (probably in the Flash) next season. We’re seeing his nemesis Wade Eiling soon (then again, in many other DC shows and movies, he’s just been used as a generic military hardass with no connection to Captain Atom, even in shows that featured Captain Atom, like YJ).

  • Steve Freeman

    Now that I think about it, yeah, the character on Arrow much more closely resembles Ted. And as I always liked BB more than Atom, I would have preferred for it to be Ted. I just never felt like Atom was that great of a hero…

  • Sebastian Galleguillos

    I really wonder what those “plans” they have for Ted Kord are… he did show up in Forever Evil. It’s weird tho. Johns created Jaime Reyes, so why would he want to replace him as BB… or why would they want TWO BB?

  • Sebastian Galleguillos

    I totally agree with you. I’m very scared about the FX budget for the Atom. It could go terribly wrong if they dont it right. Maybe Ted was indeed a better choice. I think Routh could have worked for both characters tho

  • David Vandervliet

    I wouldn’t have had any problem with Routh as Kord… he’s taller than I picture Ted being. For some reason I always thought Ted would be 5’9″/5’10” if even.

    There were a couple other ways they could have gone too.. I could have seen a Terry Sloane or a Michael Holt version, or maybe Ted Knight. Characters that have the science background and business background.

  • D.A.V.E.

    Fun fact: The YJ version of Wade Eiling was involved in a Captain Atom story in the YJ comic tie-in to the show. It’s canon and written by Greg Weisman, who is both YJ’s showrunner and the co-creator of Eiling in the first place.

  • Ed Love

    When I saw how Palmer was being used, I had mentioned on another board it made no sense character-wise, that Ted Kord or several others fit the millionaire/business-man angle a lot better (such as Will Magnus, Maxwell Lord, Steve Dayton, Terry Sloan/Michael Holt, or Lee Travis who had connections to the GA Green Arrow). But, then again, the shows are all about using characters pretty much in name only. And, I cannot imagine we’d have gotten anything remotely close to the Ditko character design. It’s not a look that translates to tight pleather outfits.

  • Lyle

    On one hand, Ray in the show matches Ted Kord’s personality more closely, and when I first heard the character descriptions for new characters for season 3, my first thought was Ted Kord. Personality wise, Ray is a lot closer to Ted Kord (owner of his own corporation and a playful personality who wants to be a super hero because, if you had the resources, why wouldn’t you?) than the comic book Atom (science professor who becomes a super hero just so his girlfriend will get over wanting to be in her lawyer profession and marry him, which sounds incredibly sexist these days). I actually think that the Atom’s original origin is kind of iconic, the whole idea that he does not even think of being a hero until a meteor flies over his head is almost the start of a Greek legendary heroic tale, but I admittedly also sounds silly and lacks the emotional gravitas that many of these TV origins need.
    On the other hand, I think the Atom works better for the purposes of Arrow for a couple reasons. First, he is a classic silver age hero, so looks better in a show about a young Oliver Queen learning to be Green Arrow than Blue Beetle would, since Green Arrow and Atom were heroes in the Justice League and Blue Beetle was in a Charlton comic without any thought that he would ever interact with anyone from the DC universe. Also, the Atom’s shrinking powers could look more impressive than a guy who decides to dress like a blue beetle because… blue beetles inspire fear? …they’re cool and hipsters would dig it? … blue is the new green?

  • demoncat_4

    interesting for i remember seeing something that dc could not ever have blue beetle including ted show up in live action at all due to the rights being held by a company that made a beetle radio show. though there is always hope that ted could show up down the line or on flash.

  • Ian Brandt

    OH YEAH! I totally forgot about that comic! Good point. But they still used him as a generic general in the show.

  • Juan martinez jr

    to be honest to start of the story with ted kord as the blue battle would be ok but shouldn’t be too long i much rather see Jaime Reyes as the blue beetle its time they put a hispanic super hero in the air and some day maybe the big screen