Creators: Marc Guggenheim, Phil Klemmer, Greg Berlanti
Cast: Victor Garber, Brandon Routh, Arthur Darvill, Franz Drameh, Dominic Purcell, Caity Lotz, Ciara Renee, Wentworth Miller, Casper Crump
Running time: 651 minutes
As the third series in The CW’s ever-expanding DC universe LEGENDS OF TOMORROW really delivers on a level its predecessors have not.
While ARROW originally focused on realism things in the DC TV universe got decidedly more comic-booky with the introduction of THE FLASH, and even though THE FLASH remains a show that very much embraces its comic origins LEGENDS OF TOMORROW represents possibly the most comic book idea there is. Lets get a bunch of different superheroes (and super villains) to form a team and travel throughout time fighting bad guys.
Out of all of the DC TV shows so far LEGENDS OF TOMORROW definitely has the strongest opening, it wastes not time introducing the characters and plot, and immediately makes it clear that this is a bigger budget show, or at least the budget is less spread out over fewer episodes. From the beginning LEGENDS presents itself as fun, which is mostly what this show is. The plot is rather intriguing but simple enough, an immortal bad guy is causing trouble throughout history and they have to stop him. However the heart of the show is its characters, most of them have previously been introduced on ARROW or FLASH but for the most part this is the first time they’ve interacted and that’s where the show is strongest. Watching the characters play off of each other is simply entertaining as very few of them are alike and even the ones that are, are different enough to be distinctive.
Having Ray Palmer/the Atom who is very much the boy scout of the group butt heads with Captain Cold and Heatwave, the resident bad guys is funny as obviously they don’t agree a lot. Whereas White Canary who is very much an anti-hero works as a mediator between the good guys and bad guys as she’s the closest thing to both. Obviously each character goes through a story arch as the series progresses and while some of them are kind of predictable there is a few surprises and for the most part they’re all entertaining to watch with a couple of exceptions of plots that drag on a bit and ones that are resolved rather quickly.
Obviously one of the fun parts of the show is the time travel element. While sometimes it felt a bit like a “time period of the week” type scenario it was always interesting to see the characters trying to blend in with period appropriate disguises, think DOCTOR WHO with superheroes. This also allowed them to pick up on important topics as well, such as the issues of being an ethnic minority or a homosexual in a time when such things weren’t as accepted. Obviously they don’t lean-to heavily on these subjects but it is interesting to see they acknowledged them as it would have just been easy to ignore.
While LEGENDS has a shorter episode run than ARROW and FLASH it does still fall victim to being maybe a bit longer then it needs to be. There was at least a handful of episodes that felt like filler and they may have picked up on this as their second season is only scheduled for 13 episodes not 16. As a time travel based narrative it does fairly well at maintaining its own rules, something other properties struggle with, even if some of them are unclear it still holds up. It does however treat the effects of time travel a bit different to how it is in the FLASH but I just put that down to the Flash can only move along the timeline where as in LEGENDS they can exist outside of the timeline.
The show explains enough back story for each character to be accessible to audiences who haven’t watched the previous shows, but it does contain cameos from other characters which will obviously be more meaningful to those familiar with them. What LEGENDS also does well is making reference to some more obscure elements of the DC universe which are interesting to see for fans of the comics.
On a whole LEGENDS OF TOMORROW is a great addition to the CW’s DC universe. The time travel elements of the series allow them to keep the show fresh by introducing a new backdrop to the plot from time to time. It’s incredibly comic book indulgent plot makes for an interesting story that helps it stand apart rather following the same beats as ARROW or FLASH, and while the narrative may drag at points it is the cast that keeps the show interesting. Each actor plays their roles brilliantly and it is their performances and interactions with each other that keep the show going. It was a great first season and hopefully it’ll get better going forward.
LEGENDS OF TOMORROW is out on DVD/Blu-ray today, August 29th.