Marc Guggenheim, B.A. ’92

Beyond Super

By Jim Sciancalepore, M.A. ’93

Marc Guggenheim posing with the Makku Army from "Arrow"

Photo credit: Cate Cameron/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Marc Guggenheim’s mother has a distinct memory of him as a 2-year-old, sitting on the floor of his bedroom … flipping through a Superman comic book.

“I loved comic books before I could even read!” laughed Guggenheim.

The moment, as it turns out, was prescient. Guggenheim is currently the co-showrunner (a combination creator/writer/producer role) for the critically acclaimed TV show “Arrow,” a modern take on the DC Comics superhero Green Arrow. He previously wrote the screenplay for “Green Lantern,” the Ryan Reynolds feature film. He has also authored numerous comic books for some of the genre’s most iconic characters, including The Flash, Wolverine, Aquaman and The Amazing Spiderman. Not surprisingly, Guggenheim has been a guest speaker at San Diego’s ComicCon, the massive annual conference of all things super and sci-fi.

“I get to play with the toys I grew up with,” he said. “It’s very surreal and a huge amount of fun.”

Marc Guggenheim at Comic-Con siging Arrow poster

Photo credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Marc Guggenheim poses in a picture with UAlbany President Robert J. Jones

Photo credit: Mark Schmidt

Of course, all great superhero stories have what is commonly referred to as an “origin story” – describing how these characters acquired their powers and discovered their destinies. Though he wasn’t exactly bitten by a radioactive spider, Guggenheim directly attributes his growth as a writer and creative catalyst to his experience at UAlbany.

“My time at UAlbany opened me up socially and intellectually,” explained the Long Island native. “It was four wonderful years of my life.”

Guggenheim noted that he particularly enjoyed being in the University’s English honors program, which gave him a broader appreciation of themes and storytelling. “It wasn’t just about literature,” he said. “It was about expansion of ideas, and expressing those ideas.”

His personal story arc, however, didn’t go straight from Albany to Hollywood: After earning his B.A., Guggenheim first pursued a career in law. He earned his law degree from Boston University and was able to score a plum position as an attorney at a prominent Boston firm. His career path was clear, until a little bit of destiny intervened.

Guggenheim’s younger brother was working on a student film at the time (both of his brothers are in the film/TV business today), and he asked his big brother for assistance with the script. This experience rekindled Guggenheim’s passion for writing, and he decided it was time to “fish or cut bait.”

Marc Guggenheim signing his book Overwatch at the University

Photo credit: Mark Schmidt

Marc Guggenheim speaking at the Fall 2014 Reaching Higher/Achieving More Luncheon


At age 29, he decided to leave his job and move to L.A. to pursue a full-time career in writing. From initial stints as a writer on such TV shows as “The Practice,” “Law & Order” and “Jack and Bobby” to his current showrunner status, he has never looked back. (On his Twitter feed, @mguggenheim, Guggenheim describes himself as a “recovering attorney and writer of stuff.”)

Guggenheim’s creative interests extend well beyond the superhero oeuvre. Now a married father of two, he recently published his first novel – a political spy thriller titled Overwatch. Melding elements of John Grisham and Tom Clancy, the book concerns a young attorney who works for for the CIA and uncovers a dangerous global conspiracy.

Guggenheim began writing Overwatch when he was between television writing jobs a few years ago. A friend advised him to “write something you don’t normally do,” and Guggenheim challenged himself to write a book – a very different process than scripting a show or movie.

“I quickly realized that I have to be the director, cinematographer, set designer and even the actors when writing a book,” explained Guggenheim. “I learned a lot during the process.”

When asked to identify his proudest creative achievement so far, Guggenheim says he “can’t pick a favorite child.” He did mention that the TV show “Eli Stone,” which marked his first stint as a co-showrunner, has a special place in his heart. The quirky dramedy detailed the sudden spiritual awakening of an attorney who works for a high-powered law firm and realizes that he has a higher calling.

“It was a chance to talk about deeper topics, like faith and spirituality,” said Guggenheim. “And there may have been a little more of me in that character.”

While he is pulled in many different directions these days, Guggenheim still relishes his writing time. Like his many masked protagonists, Guggenheim says that he, too, has something of a double life.

“There’s me and there’s me the writer,” he explained. “Every time I sit at the keyboard, I get to be someone else. That’s a cool thing.”