First Impression: Legends of Tomorrow

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Arrowverse has been gearing up for the premiere of Legends of Tomorrow all season. First, on Arrow, we got the return of Ray Palmer and Sara Lance. Then, on The Flash, we learned more about Leonard Snart and added a new member to the Firestorm team. Finally, we got the backdoor pilot/crossover which introduced Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and Legends’ big bad, Vandal Savage.

With all that build up, there was a good chance that Legends of Tomorrow wouldn’t be able to rise to the occasion as the newest (hopefully hit) show to enter the Arrowverse. In the end, it met my expectations and exceeded them, but it remains to be seen whether it can hold it’s own with Arrow and The Flash.

The Plot

Things are bad in the year 2166. Vandal Savage has become the supreme leader of Earth, but a time traveler–by the name of Rip Hunter–wants to journey back in time to stop him from coming to power. His fellow Time Masters don’t think it’s their business to interfere with the timeline. Respectably disagreeing, Rip steals a time ship and heads to 2016 to collect a group of heroes and villains to join him on his quest.

Coming along for Rip’s ride is Ray Palmer a.k.a. the Atom (who was last seen not-being-dead on Arrow). He’s being heroing since rejoining the land of the living, but he’s not thrilled about his failure to leave a legacy. Rip offers him a chance to be a legend, and Ray’s willing to try anything to make a difference in the world.

Also joining the team is Sara Lance. She’s a member of the no-longer-dead team too (only in her case it’s more literal), but she becomes a time traveler because her sister, Laurel, convinces her that it’s an opportunity to come into the light and be a hero called the White Canary.  

Meanwhile, the duos of Heat Wave & Captain Cold and Firestorm join the ranks as well. Snart and Mick come along because they dream of being the greatest thieves of all time (literally because: time travel) and Dr. Stein drags Jax along (again literally because: drugged) since he wants to science the heck out of time travel.

Lastly, the bird gang of Hawkman and Hawkgirl feel duty bound to join the quest since Vandal Savage’s fate is inextricably tied to theirs. Above and beyond that, they learn that if they aren’t the ones to deal Savage a death blow, his deadness will be less than permanent.

Once the “Legends” are successfully drawn together, Rip takes them to the 1970’s to meet with Dr. Boardman–the only authority on Vandal Savage and the Hawkpeople–to find out where they might be able to intercept Savage in the past, present, and/or future. Unfortunately, they have a bounty hunter on their tail and deadline to beat.

So That’s a Lot Characters, Right?

Not a lot happens plot-wise in the pilot of Legends of Tomorrow. That’s mostly because so much time is spent bringing the characters on board. It’s understandable that things would get off to a slow start when you have this many individuals to wrangle together, but that doesn’t stop the pilot from moving at a snail’s pace until the first jump in time occurs. After that jump, everything starts pulling together. The characters start interacting, the plot jumps forward, and everything gels. It just takes awhile.

As pilots go, Legends of Tomorrow is successful at giving us the basics of what’s going on while establishing characters and interpersonal dynamics. It might not have been as strong of a pilot as The Flash or Arrow had, but it got me caught on the show anyways with it’s sass, style, and Ray Palmer’s tears.

Atom’s Super Now

Brandon Routh is one of those actors that I’ve sort of had a crush on for ages. I adored him in Superman Returns, and I was very excited when he joined Arrow. Unfortunately, he wasn’t great on Arrow. He was the boy-version of Felicity and that didn’t work so well (since there can only ever truly be one Felicity).

Taking him off Arrow and transplanting him on Legends was the best thing that could happen for his character. There’s still his boyish, geeky wonder, but it’s tempered by him having a heartbreaking afterlife crisis.

After discovering that his “death” left no impact on the world, Ray Palmer’s definitely a mess. He had been trying so hard to make a difference that it shakes him when he realizes he didn’t succeed. That absolute pep he had on Arrow is finally gone and it gives him a depth that he originally lacked.

That depth makes him a promising lead character on Legends of Tomorrow. While the show is technically an ensemble, it could benefit from having one or two of its nine(!!) characters taking the forefront. Ray Palmer is the obvious choice because he has a struggle that’s both interesting and tied in with saving the world. 

Sara Lance would be second on my list for focal character.

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Getting Weird With Sara Lance

Never in a millions years would I have expected my new brotp to be Sara Lance and Captain Cold, but the pilot proved that Sara’s at her best when she can get weird with some baddies.

I never much cared for Sara during her time on Arrow. She and Oliver never had the chemistry that the show, obviously, wanted them to have and her plot was filled with too much brooding and melancholy to be interesting in a show already filled to the brim with brooding and melancholy. As a character, Sara had potential, but to fulfill it, she’d have to be free of Ollie’s orbit.

Legends of Tomorrow frees her.

Not that they really have a choice–what with her having the bloodlust from the Lazarus Pit and all–but it seems like she can embrace who she is now that she’s not being watched by Oliver, the guy who feels the need to make every woman in his vicinity behave as he sees fit.

While she’s the White Canary now, it still seems like she’s relishing being a blunt fist rather than actually playing the fallen angel. Not surprisingly, her natural companions in Legends are Snart and Mick.

I appreciated the trio of them going to the bar and getting in a fight (with Captain and Tennille playing in the background). That scene was my favorite of the pilot. It brought out the best of Snart’s sassyness and, surprisingly, coaxed some snark out of Sara too. Those two immediately became the duo to beat on this show. As much as I love seeing Dominic Purcell and Wentworth Miller back together, Purcell’s Mick doesn’t add much to the show. He doesn’t have Snart’s depth or charm, and I wouldn’t shed a tear if he were to be left in the past, giving Snart and Sara a chance to become BFFs.

The Hawkpeople are Not the Best

Hawkman (who will henceforth be caIled Hawkguy for reasons) and Hawkgirl, in contrast, are my least favorite duo simply because they have no chemistry and, boy, does Hawkguy ruin everything by being incredibly dull.

I had nothing against Kendra on The Flash. She was cute, smart, and a decent foil for Cisco. She had potential as a hero, but it’s been squandered already by pairing her with her “destined lover.”

While occasionally that sort of story can be romantic, here it’s just ew.

There’s nothing really to say about birdman, Khufu. He talks about destiny, has abs, and is otherwise a nothing character in the ranks of Mick. On a show so bloated with characters, he’s really unnecessary (and dull. Did I mention dull?).

Above and beyond that, their story in the pilot was a complete emotional waste. Once it’s revealed that Dr. Boradman is their son, it became obvious that this was going to be a throwaway story about one of their children from another life. The problem with that is that this person is their son. That could have carried a lot of emotional weight. Unfortunately, it that bit of the story was over so quickly that I was disappointed a promising plotline like that was wasted so early in the series.

(I guess with time travel it’s possible we’ll see Boardman again. I hope, at least, that will be the case.)

Martin Stein is the Worst

I spoke too soon when I claimed that Hawkman and Hawkgirl were my least favorite duo. Stein and Jax are technically my least favorite–even though after this episode, I’d hardly call them a duo.

I never liked Martin Stein on The Flash. He was unpleasant and snobby, but somehow, my low opinion of him managed to worsen with the Legends pilot. He is an awful, awful person, isn’t he? He drugged his Firestorm companion, Jax, to get him on the time ship, knowing full well that Jax was adamant about not joining the Legends team. That’s abduction. That’s taking away a person’s free will. That’s just plain wrong.

Because this show loosely exists in the morally weird zone that is the extended Arrow universe, this doesn’t end up being a bad thing. I can’t forgive it though, and I hope Jax gets a better Firestorm partner in the future. Stein’s just not cutting it and should get left in the past because he is the worst.

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Fridge Time with Rory Williams

Rip Hunter (a.k.a. Rory Williams from Doctor Who) is the last of our heroes and, by far, the most distracting character on the series. Not only is he a Time Master (presumably similar to a Time Lord), he also wears a long brown coat and steals a Time Traveling ship. If that doesn’t sound passingly familiar than you must not be a Whovian.

It wasn’t only the weird Doctor Who parallels that threw me off but also his part in the worst bit of the pilot.

I’m talking about the fridging of yet another female character.

Legends of Tomorrow was doing so well with coming up with motivations for its characters until it got to Rip. In a TV universe that is notorious for fridging women (and otherwise treating them awfully to motivate male characters) I was furious when it was revealed that Rip’s wife and child were his motivations for his actions.  I’m very sick of fridging–to the point where it’s a reason I will stop reading books or watching shows.

Since the show did do so well otherwise with motivating its characters, I’ll keep watching, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t on good behavior for the foreseeable future.

Final Thoughts

I didn’t expect to like Legends of Tomorrow. I actually expected to hate it. Surprisingly, I didn’t. While a lot of the reviews I’ve read haven’t been overwhelming positive, I think Legends is a decent addition to the Arrowverse. Its pilot had rough points, but its characters show promise and the time traveling concept could be timey whimey fun.

I’d definitely say try it!

What did you think of Legends of Tomorrow? What’s your favorite Arrowverse show? 

Image Source: Screencapped

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