While not exactly legendary, the series premiere of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow got off to a decent start, suggesting with a little fine tuning this spin-off could reach the levels of its CW big brothers Arrow and The Flash.
Most of this kick-off episode was uniting the nine — Atom, White Canary, Heat Wave, Captain Cold, Hawkman, Hawkgirl and Firestorm — with time traveler Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill). Presumably acting under the authority of The Time Council, Rip assembled this misfit team to stop Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) from wiping out humanity. Thrilled about the chance to make their lives meaningful — and steal valuable historical artifacts in The Rogue’s case — the heroes quickly agree to Rip’s plan. Well, not everyone. Jax is content to work at the auto repair shop despite earlier clearly enjoying playing superhero, but he gets dragged along anyway.
Of the group, The Atom had the best reason for joining up as he was still lamenting the complete indifference his “death” caused. If the writers don’t limit him to geeked out nerd persona, Brandon Routh could easily make The Atom the breakout character. He’s likable enough and Routh gives Atom a sense of awe and happy to be here presence we don’t see that often in this genre.
It seemed very weird that Hawkman and Hawkgirl were so clueless about Vandal Savage’s fate until Rip’s briefing since they’ve been locked in a centuries time loop with him. And although the writers at least tried to come up with a reason for Heatwave and Captain Cold’s involvement, it still came across as very contrived. Here’s hoping that the Rogues get phased out next season for heroes who will more sensibly fit into this dynamic.
Given the premise, I figured the show was going to have some Quantum Leap elements to it so the gang’s first stop to 1975 was a neat way to incorporate time travel. Rip’s reason for the trip — to confer with the leading Vandal Savage historian Dr. Aldus Boardman (Peter Francis James) was bizarre considering Rip should have far more knowledge of Savage than a guy slated to die in 24 hours.
Turns out Boardman is Hawkman and Hawkgirl’s son from one of their former lives. I’m hoping eventually it’s revealed that Rip arranged this meeting and Boardman’s assassination at Chronos’ hands to further convince the Hawks of Savage’s menace.
The DC TV Universe has been pretty good about adapting the core elements of comic characters’ costume for the shows, but the costume design for Chronos is criminally underwhelming. While the comic outfit probably wouldn’t easily translate to this leather = costume universe, Chronos looks nondescript and has that generic cyborg villain appearance without the fancy chrome coat of polish like Captain Phasma. The showrunners would probably be better off having Extant as the Time Council enforcer as his red and black color scheme is more in line with the DCTV color palette.
Tonally, the show tried to straddle the line between Flash and Arrow, but it wasn’t always smooth. Canary, Captain Cold and Heat Wave getting into a bar fight felt goofy compared to the more serious family drama with the Hawks. And Professor Stein roofying Jax just so Firestorm could be available for the mission seemed very out of character. And did Stein have a really big blowup with his wife to justify ditching her all over again? That was confusing. Random thought: is Gideon the generic name for the future equivalent of an iPhone as this one was nothing like Reverse Flash’s version.
The action scenes were a bit of a work in progress. Incorporating the Hawks into battle still looks clunky while Atom and Firestorm still are too much like Iron Man and The Human Torch. Given Heat Wave’s inclusion on the team, the show doesn’t need two flame based characters so hopefully Firestorm’s matter transmutation abilities are developed quickly.
After escaping from Chronos, Rip reveals his mission is personal as Savage killed his wife and child and he quit the Time Council so he could go after him. And that whole spiel about the team being legends? Just a good soundbite. Rip actually picked this ragtag crew because they were the least impactful on the time stream. I’m glad the writers provided a legitimate reason so we’re not wondering why Rip didn’t call in Arrow, The Flash and possibly Supergirl as well.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
There’s definitely going to be some growing pains as this new series progresses, but the lure of watching these characters interact and travel through time for now is enough of a hook to warrant further investment.