Legends of Tomorrow is unlike anything DC or the CW have tried to make for live-action television. Where Arrow and The Flash were focused character studies of Oliver Queen and Barry Allen, both of which slowly bloomed into team shows over many episodes, Legends of Tomorrow corrals all the B-players from its popular CW duo, and tries to make a show out of it.
[Spoilers! Spoilers! Spoilers!]
The pilot wastes no time setting up its premise. In the opening seconds, Doctor Who-wannabe time traveler Rip Hunter abandons his fiery doomsday future in 2166, leaving his wife and child to a bloody end by the hands of Vandal Savage. (Coincidentally, Legends of Tomorrow may hold the world record for quickest instance of child murder on a TV show.)
Rip’s plan is to beg the Time Masters, basically Gallifreyan Time Lords, to fiddle with history so he can destroy the immortal Savage before he annihilates his family along with his world, and to do that he’ll need a team. Cue recruitment montage! This is where voracious fans of CW’s DC universe receive sufficient crossover sustenance. All the major players from Arrow and The Flash make appearances as superheroes and heroines contemplate Rip Hunter’s otherworldly offer.
You could say that Legends of Tomorrow is lapping up table scraps, adopting side characters from two popular shows who no longer had a place. But these are strong characters in their own right with due diligence paid to their personal story arcs. If you are up to speed on your superhero TV, Legends of Tomorrow is that much more rich and engrossing. If you’re not, the show does a good job of bringing newbies along for the ride anyway.
Plus, it includes The Atom, Firestorm, Hawkgirl, and Captain Cold. It’s not like the team’s completely staffed with Z-listers like Arm-Fall-Off Boy or something.
Most awkwardly designed spaceship ever. Via CW.
Once the team agrees to Rip Hunter’s crazy offer, some more reluctantly than others, Hunter pulls the invisible cloak off his TARDIS, I mean Waverider. Suddenly, the entire existence of the known universe, past, present, and future, is open to the team’s exploration, so they first head to............ 1975.
Okay, or that, too. Yeah, that’s cool. Hunter and crew zip away, followed quickly by the downright disagreeable bounty hunter Chronos.
Back in the groovy ‘70s, the Time Team abducts Shiara and Khufu’s son (from a former life); we get to know his story, and there are EMOTIONS. Then he gets laser murdered by Chronos. Oh well, shit happens. Moving on!
In the process of all this murdering and mayhem, Hunter kinda lets slip that the reason he picked this specific team is that, well, they’re “insignificant to the timeline.”
Disheartened and rightly pissed, “Pilot: Part 1" devolves into a second bout of soul-searching as heroes and villains figure out what the hell they’re really doing on this crazy mission. Once again, they come to the conclusion to stick it out in an effort to actually do something that means a damn. Smart idea.
In 45 minutes or so, Legends of Tomorrow accomplishes a ton. It creates conflict, forms a team, and kills two sons (impressive), all while juggling the meandering story of arcs of nine random individuals.
Is the acting great? No, but it’s CW great. Is the dialogue great? No, but it’s superhero comic book great. The most glaring problem with Legends of Tomorrow is that these characters currently have no chemistry with one another. Sure, Captain Cold/Heat Wave and Dr. Stein/Jackson have some memorable moments, but these characters still feel a little locked in their separate universes.
But you know what? That’s okay. I’d probably feel the same if some time-hopping Brit signed me up to kill an immortal madman. Hopefully this uncomfortable feeling will ebb with time.
White Canary’s fight scene was an epic “don’t mess” moment. Via CW.
Legends of Tomorrow’s “Pilot: Part 1" and its core reminds me of Silver Age comic booking. It’s over the top and beyond believable, but you just have to buy into it and let it fill your superhero-loving being. The narrative’s stripped of dark themes like in Arrow, and other grim DC films that I honestly don’t understand, and is just a fun superhero romp through time. If that premise alone doesn’t get you to the second episode, what in the hell would?