In a week that premiered an entire new DC Comics line-up in primetime for The CW, the sophomore season of the "team show" is benching some starters and bringing in some rookies while the veterans legends come face-to-face with "big league" legends!
Perhaps you may feel the same way that I do, perhaps not. This week marked the premieres of two more DC Comics based television series on The CW; an unprecedented moment in primetime! The week began impressively enough with the launch of Supergirl after CBS had jettisoned the adventure series, The CW rightfully picked it up and added into its line-up and raised the stakes by (re) introducing the Girl of Steel’s famous cousin Superman as a recurring character! The week continued wth The Flash still reeling from the consequences of creating a “Flashpoint Paradox” and over in Star City Arrow has his hands full with a wave of vigilantes sweeping the streets!
On Thursday night the much heralded return of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow reunited the “cast off” misfits first introduced as part of the big Arrow and The Flash crossover event. Brought together by the Time Master Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) their destiny was to prevent Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) from destroying the future. With Savage’s plan to conquer the time stream prevented, at the conclusion of the premiere season, it appeared that the “legends” were no longer needed. Indeed two among their numbers Hawkgirl (Ciara Renée) and Hawkman (Falk Hentschel) decided to move on, and Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) sacrificed himself to save them all.
Recapping: Season One of DC's Legends so far...
With Vandal Savage stopped and the Time Masters themselves ultimately brought down in the ensuing climax of the group’s time-hopping in Season One, the remaining Legends including Ray Palmer/The Atom (Brandon Routh), Sara Lance/The White Canary (Caity Lotz), Prof. Martin Stein (Victor Garber) and Jefferson “Jax” Jackson (Franz Drameh) the two halves of Firestorm, the Nuclear Man and Mick Rory/Heatwave (Dominic Purcell) decide they have no other choice but to remain a team taking up the slack left by the loss of the Time Masters to protect the continuum from “aberrations” in the continuity.
At the conclusion of Season One, as they prepare to embark on their new mission, the Legends are stopped in their tracks by the arrival of another Waverider — the time-ship they use to travel through history, and are met by its sole occupant! He calls himself Rex Tyler/Hourman (Patrick J. Adams) and he says he is a member of the Justice Society of America and if the Legends don’t heed his warning, they are doomed!
Spoilers Ahead: Season Two Episode #201 "Out of Time"
Cut to…Season Two! When the premiere episode opens up the audience is transported to Star City, 2016 and a very hyper Nate Heywood (Nick Zano) who is desperate to meet with the city’s mayor, Oliver Queen (guest star Stephen Amell). Heywood convinces Queen that the Legends are in trouble, and that it should matter to Queen because two among them are allies and friends of Queen’s alter-ego, the Green Arrow, but more importantly, the Legends are causing alterations through history that although have gone mostly unnoticed, should they continue might have major ramifications on history as a whole.
24-hours later Haywood and Oliver find themselves at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean and find Mick Rory being held in stasis aboard the submerged Waverider. The pair wake up Rory who elaborates on the events that lead to the Waverider’s predicament — while investigating an aberration, the Legends discover that the Nazis launch a bomb and destroy New York City. They decide to travel back to that point, although they had been warned by Rex Tyler to not return to 1942. The Legends unearth a plot set in motion by Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) to steal an atomic bomb from Einstein (guest star John Rubinstein).
Sara wants to exact her revenge on Darhk for murdering her sister Laurel/The Black Canary (Katie Cassidy) in the present and almost compromises their plan to stop the Nazis. In a final attempt to save the day, Rip rams the Waverider into the bomb but not before spreading the team across time and space, leaving Mick behind in stasis while he heals from wounds sustained in the attack. Now with Heywood onboard, the pair travel through time to rescue the displaced team and once they’ve gathered them all they discover that they’ve been abandoned by their captain Rip.
They return to the scene of the crime in 1942 and save the timeline by making one alteration to history that saves New York City, but Damien Darhk is not working alone — he’s allied himself with the time-traveling Reverse-Flash (Matt Letscher) who saves him from the treacherous Nazis. As the Legends prepare to return to their ship, they are confronted by a group of costumed avengers who have some questions for them — they identify themselves as the Justice Society of America.
Among the assembled group representing the JSA is Commander Steel, Vixen (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) who will be joining the cast and represents a direct descendent to the Modern Age “Vixen” Mari McCabe, Dr. Mid-Nite, Obsidian, and Stargirl. For fans of the comic book, both Hawkman and Hawkgirl also served on the team of Golden Age comics heroes and are not included in this line-up, and there is an obvious missed opportunity in portraying the JSA without one of the founding members…
Though the “real” Jay Garrick has been introduced on The Flash at the conclusion of the Scarlet Speedster’s epic confrontation with ZOOM in Season 3, it was revealed that Garrick is “The Flash” on Earth-3 and a doppleganger who looks like Barry Allen’s/The Flash’s (Grant Gustin) father and is played by series favorite John Wesley Shipp, but apparently has no connection to the JSA at least not yet. In a season across the board for all the DC TV series devoted to enhancing legacies, this seems like a particularly major gaff — unless it is later revealed as part of a greater overall storyline, but that may not be the case after all.
The reason that fans have become so invested in these shows is mostly a credit to the chemistry dependent of its cast and crew to make us believe in these stories. Don’t look any further than The Flash and how in a matter of three seasons that series’ ensemble has gelled so cohesively, we care about them each inclusively and are invested in their narrative. The same is happening with Supergirl — both shows at their core have great series leads that center and ground this extraordinary world in reality.
The Legends team although part of a “team-show” which by definition should be far more articulate and adaptable than its contemporaries, don’t have the chemistry that makes for a successful run. It should have been the focus of the First Season to help “seal the deal” and pool this group of individuals together — but that didn’t happen. The team dynamic is perhaps too extreme, and the proliferation of anti-heroes to the forefront specifically Mick Rory as Heatwave turned hero, eclipses major cannon heroes like Ray Palmer’s Atom or even Firestorm. Audiences have become widely more invested in Sara Lance the White Canary to lead this team.
When the announcement had been made that a third spin-off was in the works and that it would be a “team-show” many assumed that DC’s Legends might have first been intended to evolve as an anthology series with a revolving cast, but the idea of moving through time and space and visit different parts of the DC Universe was just too hard to resist. With Rip Hunter, the most qualified among the original cast to decipher and help navigate that universe now “missing” — it kinda makes the audience wonder.
The addition of Nate Heywood who describes himself as a type “time historian” it’s obvious this character will replace Hunter to some degree, but we haven’t had time to get to know Rip Hunter and now there’s a “new guy” in there, who himself is part of a legacy — Heywood will be reintroduced as Citizen Steel the contemporary version of Commander Steel, who becomes a member of the Modern Age JSA and also a member of the Justice League of America alongside Vixen (McCabe) and Vibe (Carlos Valdes), but is this enough to rescue an already limping narrative?
It’s a lot to absorb when so many characters have been swapped in and out, and the hope is that the one show that has the potential to be the most cohesive among the four in The CW line-up proves just that — that it can pull it all together and we can accept that these are indeed DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. RIght now — it’s too soon to say; fortunately they’ve got time on their side.
DC's Legends of Tomorrow airs on The CW, Thursday nights @ 8pm.