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Will DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Stand The Test of Time?

Sonia See - March 4, 2016

Set in the same fictional universe as Arrow and The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow starts off in the year 2166 where Voldemort Vandal Savage (these “V” villain names always get me confused with He Who Must Not Be Named) is killing everyone, destroying the world and the fiber of time. Having witnessed the horror of the future, Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill), a time-traveling rogue travels to the year 2016 to assemble a series of eight heroes and villains from Arrow and The Flash. The “Legends” must work together to defeat Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) and restore the future.

Pilot, Part 1

(Photo: The CW) Rip Hunter, the time master.

Having marveled viewers with Arrow in 2012 and subsequently a spin-off, The Flash in 2014, it was only natural to assume that gathering a number of side characters from the two already very successful shows and throwing them in a series of their own, would work. It does, partially. While the show offers us a plethora of characters borrowed from its sister shows, viewers are also introduced to a brand new hero: Rip Hunter. Unsurprisingly, Darvill excels at portraying the time master; he gives the character a degree of charm and charisma that fits him right into the DC-verse.

Legends of Tomorrow oddly feels like an eight-piece boy band. There are so many characters that viewers might be confused on who to focus on. The issue with having such a large main cast is the division of focus on the characters along with their backstory and this is where Legends fails. With all rounded characters like Rip Hunter, White Canary (Caity Lotz), Atom (Brandon Routh) and the undeniable chemistry of Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) and Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell), Legends had a lot to work with in terms of dynamic backstories. Instead, they focused on the very stagnant Hawkman (Falk Hentschel) and Hawkgirl (Ciara Renée) and the fiery (yet boring) relationship between Professor Stein (Victor Garber) and Jackson (Franz Drameh). Conveniently enough, Hawkman and Hawkgirl are directly related to Vandal Savage so this means that even more screen time will be allocated to the very characters that cannot stand alone.

There is a major reason why MARVEL works (and I am not just saying that because of my obvious MARVEL bias). MARVEL’s Avengers works because the members of The Avengers are all substantial and interesting enough to stand on their own. Agent Carter commanding her own show goes to show how powerful the MARVEL-verse is in terms of characterisation. In the case of Legends, the characters seem to be leaning on each other for support, with the exception of the criminal duo who already proved themselves in Prison Break (hah!). However, the need for support does go in line with Rip Hunter saying that by themselves, the heroes are insignificant to the timeline but together, they become powerful. If the show manages to find that chemistry, it will only contribute to its greatness.

legends-tomorrow-vandal-savage-explained

(Photo: The CW) Vandal Savage, an interesting name.

Forgoing the obvious lack of willingness to act chemistry of Hawkman and Hawkgirl, along with them moping around about their past lives, the rest of the cast stand their ground very well. The only concern with the writing of the series is Vandal Savage. Vandal Savage is immortal and can only be killed by Hawkgirl with a sacred blade. When did immortal change its definition from “never dying”? Immortality in any work of fiction requires rules and Legends seem to have twisted these rules in an illogical manner. By granting Savage immortality, the show becomes heavily dependent on his fate, with the clear risk of dragging it out too much. Writers will have to figure out an independent arc because once Savage is caught and killed, there is no more purpose to the story. It remains to be seen whether DC’s Legends of Tomorrow will make it through time uncancelled.


Quick Cents

The Good
♠ Purcell and Miller heighten the show.
♠ Great concept that marries well with the sister shows.
♠ Rip Hunter and Gideon make for a funny tandem.
♠ Fun, new and the CGI is not bad.

The Bad
♠ Show’s foundation depends on one character: Vandal Savage.
♠ Huge cast might cause lack of focus.
♠ Limits the use of the characters in other shows (e.g.: Atom).

Where to Watch
♠ Hulu: Catch up on the recent episodes every Friday.
Amazon Instant Video: Purchase episodes or the whole season on Amazon.
The CW: Airing on THU 8/7c or catch up on the episodes online.

Rating: 7.5/10 ¢

28 comments

  1. I am a regular watcher of legends of tomorrow. I understand how you would feel that the characters don’t have good back stories if you only watched the Legends. The truth is the all the characters except for Rip had their back stories explained in The Flash and Arrow. They all originated from those shows. Not explaining their back stories on Legends is probably DC’s and the CW ‘s way of getting Legends viewers to go watch Flash and Arrow to find out their back stories . You can find every season on Netflix except for the current one. Which even the current ones they feature the last five episodes in the CW website. I am enjoying seeing these characters in a whole new storyline with a whole new dynamic of characters to work with compared to the shows they came from.

    Also I think it is kind of unfair to compare the stand alone quality of the marvel movie characters to the DC show characters. Marvel has a way bigger budget to work with for TV and movies. Also the Marvel characters where created originally as stand alone movies before they became Avengers. All except Hawkeye And Black widow. And those two have not had a stand alone movie yet. Coulson from Agents of Shield and Agent Carter from Captain America were unique enough where Marvel was able to take a chance to make their own TV shows. again Marvel has lots of money to do that because of the all the block buster films they have made.

    Anyways sorry about rambling on. Yes to the brand new DC tv viewer , legends is a bit lack in understanding this big group of new characters. I just think that was The CW’s way to use the show to draw these viewers to the Flash and Arrow as well

    1. The backstory comment was more meant towards the fact that they repeatedly focused on Hawkgirl and Hawkman during the first two episodes where they could have exploited the dynamics of the other characters and put them more in focus. I was more questioning the need to focus on the Hawkpeople.

      I used to watch Arrow so I am familiar with Sara Lance (whom I know obviously died) and Ray Palmer. But The Flash is on my list to watch and I will eventually get around to it.

      Hah funny you say that because I would probably have agreed with you before Deadpool. When a movie does so well on such a low budget (compared to other blockbusters), I don’t really deem it fair to be like “oh X did better because they had more money.” You do with what you have and it’s how you use your budget that shows how great of a show creator you are. That being said, note that I rated Legends a solid 7.5 so I must have liked it.

      Going back to MARVEL, Black Widow would probably attract million of people just because she is who she is. Hawkeye is an interesting character, though not my favourite but say if they made a Hawkeye movie, the theatres would probably be flooded. But then again, that’s MARVEL’s reputation (along with excellent actors) that’s carrying the shows. That’s honestly probably just my MARVEL bias talking. I honestly do feel that MARVEL has a lot more substance in the writing of their comics but let’s leave this discussion for another day!

      Funnily enough, before I started the review, I sat down being “but I really like this show.” so it took a bit of thinking for me to come up with criticism. I think Legends is a GREAT initiative and The CW wows us with yet another great show. Compared to the constant BS offered by Freeform on a regular basis, I’d give The CW shows a million awards! Hah

      Thank you SO much for reading and taking the time to comment 🙂 I’ll say one thing, Legends did get me interested enough to go explore The Flash!

  2. Hey! Great post! Also thank you for liking my first blog post ever. I love the style of your blog! Very attractive and clever. Keep it up!

  3. We’re looking for writers to join the team over at Compact Culture (www.compactculture.com) and I really like your style. Would you have any interest in contributing?

      1. I started Compact Discography a few years ago and I just covered music. Last year, I helped create Compact Culture as a space for a wider range of cultural criticism. We have a growing team of writers and we cover music, film, tv, comics, literature, theater and more.

        1. That sounds absolutely interesting!!! It would be an immense pleasure to contribute to your website 🙂 Please let me know the logistics of it!

  4. Shows with a cast as large as Legends always have a bit of a catch-22: They need a few seasons to explore all the characters in depth, but they need to get those seasons. This may have been the first show to have been simultaneously spun-off two other shows, which helped get the backstory going. Given the growing popularity of the DC TV Universe, I think Legends will probably get to a second season (Supergirl joins the fun when the Flash shows up in a coming episode, only Gotham remains unconnected, as of yet).

    1. You have a very solid point! I think they will get a second season. I honestly think it deserves a second season for being as entertaining as it is.
      I always find it amazing when shows intertwine!

  5. Howdy, once I saw this post on your main page I just had to swing by and drop a commen. This was a really good read, very thorough and give a lot of interesting points as to why LoT works and why it doesn’t and I think we’re on the same page for the most part. I’ve liked Arrow (season 1 & 2 the most and a bit of season 4), love The Flash, but LoT falls somewhere in between.

    It is a fun show and because of the action and character moments between or focusing on my favourites like Cap Cold and Heatwave or Sara and Atom, but take those characters out of the equation and the show doesn’t have as much of a dynamic spark and I the way you said that the show is dependent on teh fate of Savage sort of feeds into my long term fears for the show; how long will Savage get around before he gets killed? And how long can these characters run around through time and fail before he’s taken out? And if he does die, where does the show go next? I’m sure the people behind the show have plans but your issues with the show are the same as mine and I dunno if I’ll be wanting to drop it after waiting too long for something significant to happen.

    P.S. sorry for the long comment.

    1. I absolutely loved your comment – never apologize for long comments! I like fleshed out comments haha

      Yes!!! As you said, we stand on the same page regarding a lot of points in the show. Like you, I’m not sure I will stick it out if they drag out the savage story line. I firmly believe that a good show moves fast and moves at a nice pace without rushing the viewers nor rushing itself!
      Just like you, I watched Season 1&2 of Arrow then I stopped. I haven’t a clue why but I think I just got tired of the storyline after a while. I have yet to watch The Flash but I’m sure I’ll like it.
      The funny thing is that I spent some time watching interviews and I’m not quite sure they have a plan as of yet of what to do with savage. I am under the impression that they are taking it as they go – I MIGHT BE WRONG! But in my humble experience, it’s never good when any work of fiction, be it a book or a show depends on the fate of one person alone. It loses substance along the way and bores even the most faithful viewers!
      Thank you SO much for reading and commenting 🙂

      1. Haha thanks, I do get a little nervous about posting longer comments because some people aren’t too keen on them.

        I know Savage is the end game for them, but how long will this game of cat and mouse go on between the heroes and villain before it gets tiresome? And if Savage gets taken out, what next? I just need some focus and clarity going forward.

        I assume the people behind the show must have some idea about where this show will go in the future, but for the forseeable future I am a little worried that I’ll lose interest.

        1. I’m on the latest available episode, 7 and I already lost interest. The minute they veer away from the main course and get into fillers, I’m gone as a viewer lol
          I started watching The Flash instead haha

          1. Oh wow, I now fear for my viewing experience of episode 7. Oh and yes, this makes me very happy for you. As you’ve probably heard, The Flash is such a good superhero show and I believe you’ll have such a good time with it and if you don’t then I honestly don’t know what you’re looking for in your TV because this is pretty much the good stuff. 😀

          2. I am on a massive binge of The Flash – I reckon it will be the only thing on my TV for a while! I’m even walking with my phone with TF playing ahaha it’s miles better than Arrow (where I could write a book about my distaste for Laurel)

          3. Nice! That’s the best way to do it. If you make a post about it in the future I’d love to read it. And of course Laurel Lance, she has years worth of problems that could be talked about. 😛

  6. You make some great points about what works and what doesn’t work on the show. You hit the nail on the head when it comes towards the characters of Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Firestorm, and Vandal Savage. They’re all very flat characters (Hawkman/Hawkgirl’s consistent dealing with their past; Firestorm’s consistent infighting; Savage’s consistent immortality ploy). This happens to be one of reasons why I quit watching.

    On another note I must thank you for liking the few posts I have made. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by! Your review of the fourth season of House of Cards seriously made me want to start watching the show.
      I honestly find Legends very interesting. I like how they are trying to create some TV phenomena with the DCVerse but …idk there’s just something in the writing that does not stick with me! Maybe I’m too used to MARVEL’s solid storylines (I am so biased it’s hilarious hahahaha)

  7. Beautifully well written post, have to admit I’m a bit of Marvel fan boy myself and not much of the current DC Verse has caught my attention. The exception being Gotham for the fantastic work put in by the cast of villains. Penguin, Riddler and Pre-Joker all captivating with spades of charm and sinister tones. Pertwee plays the perfect young Alfred to boot. This is a series I was planning to check out for the interplay between characters, judging by your review that sounds as it it’s something already interesting in parts and definitely something they could build upon.

    – Matt

    1. Aha being a fan of MARVEL, I can already tell you that you will be making some comparisons hahaha
      Gotham looks excellent – one thing I adored from DC is the villains. They are even better written than the heroes! I am eventually gonna get around to checking the show out!

  8. I really liked your post. You’re forward and honest about how you feel and voice your opinion clearly. I appreciate folks that do that. I like the show in general, but I wouldn’t be torn up if they cancelled it. I watch all the super hero shows – except for Supergirl. I really want to see that one, but it’s not on Netflix or Hulu. The one thing that really bothers me about Legends of Tomorrow is that feels a lot like Dr. Who to me – I can’t stand Dr. Who. The whole time travel bit is nauseating to me. If I look past that part, I can get through the episodes. I only watch it because of the characters in it and Captain Cold. I loved Prison Break! Captain Cold is probably my favorite because of how intricate his character is.

    Hopefully you get around to watching Flash – I really enjoy that one. I had to overlook the brief time travel in that show, but it’s not much at all.

    Loved the post! Look forward to more!

    1. You and I definitely share similar views on the show. The main reason that drew me to the show were the Prison Break tandem. I was like hah I’m probably gonna enjoy their arc.
      Aha I started watching The Flash a day after I posted this review. I cannot describe how much I love this show.
      And similarly, I don’t have cable nor a CBS subs so I can’t really watch supergirl. Only gotta wait on netflix to have it haha

      Thank you so much for stopping by!

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