Was Ray Palmer on Arrow Originally Going to be Ted Kord, the Blue Beetle?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

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 will get in the way of the story that you are trying to tell. We have spotlighted a number of these obstacles over the years, from one of your lead characters dying to discovering that 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 David E. Kelley’s The Practice when 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 instead write Larry offf of the show entirely (check out this old TV Legends Revealed to find out why). In the case of TV shows like Arrow and Flash, though, the showrunners of the shows have to keep in mind that they are dealing with licensed characters, 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 in this past season of Arrow.

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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, the owner of Kord Industries (who eventually becomes the superhero known as the Blue Beetle). In Season 1’s “The Undertaking,” in a Flashback to 2007, Oliver Queen’s parents Moira and Robert attended a fundraider 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 (which is presumably another business Ted Kord owns). Blue Beetle, besides being a successful businessman and inventor, also became the powerless vigilante known as the Blue Beetle, using his technology (like a giant flying ship shaped like a beetle and a non-lethal gun that can shoot compressed air) and his athleticism to fight crime.

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On a show like Arrow, which until its recent crossovers with the Flash and the development of Ray Palmer’s super-armor, tended to eschew characters with outright superpowers and instead feature non-powered characters 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 that that second part would have happened, of course, since it never got that far). When asked about it during San Diego ComicCon, one of Arrow‘s other executive producer, Andrew Kreisberg noted that they asked DC Comics for permission to use Ted Kord but they were told DC had “other plans” for the character. Kreisberg also noted that DC suggested to use Ray Palmer (the size-changing superhero known as the Atom) instead, and Kresiberg told the crowd at SDCC, “And we said that would work better!”

Guggenheim was asked on his tumblr page by tumblr user wittyfelicity about how things changed between their original plans for Ted 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 does not 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 enjoy Ray Palmer on Arrow, and he has obviously worked well enough to now be a big part of the upcoming Legends of Tomorrow spin-off series, but I can’t say that I wouldn’t have enjoyed Ted Kord, as well, so I don’t know if this ultimately was 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 [email protected]

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

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4 Responses to “Was Ray Palmer on Arrow Originally Going to be Ted Kord, the Blue Beetle?”

  1. interesting for the way i have always understood is no one can use blue beetle other then jamie reyes due to the rights to the character being owned by a company that did a blue beetle radio show.

  2. I thought the Blue Beetle got his powers form some kind of magic amulet and not for technology I remember them talking about that in the Batman Cartoon

  3. I thought the Blue Beetle got his powers form some kind of magic amulet and not for technology I remember them talking about that in the Batman Cartoon

    The original Blue Beetle got his powers from an amulet, as does the current Blue Beetle, Jaime Reyes. Ted Kord, though, eschewed the amulet and just used technology and his own physical skills.

  4. The original Blue Beetle had no powers and was an imitation of the Green Hornet. Almost immediately (explained in the radio show) he was shot up in his civilian identity as rookie policeman Dan Garrett. A pharmacist who owned his own drugstore and had lots of time on his hands, sneaked a super-serum shot into Dan while Dan was hospitalized.

    Much later, when Charlton somehow got the copyrights, Dan Garrett got a new origin. Now he was a badly-drawn archeologist and found a Shazam type of scarab which transformed him into a goggled, costumed superhero. This was the Beetle who Brian references, the Beetle who enjoyed one of Roy Thomas’s first two professional sales. Ted Kord’s mad scientist uncle caused Dan’s death and Ted felt guilty enough to gizmo himself up as “the New Blue Beetle” with Ditko art & story and Gary Friedrich or Dave Kelar writing the dialogue. Dan’s scarab had been buried with Dan in the cave-in.

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