Legends of Tomorrow is hitting in a big way—we saw the awesome trailer last week, and the current Arrow /Flash crossover is setting up this spin-off to those two shows. While some of the characters have appeared on TV already, some of the Legends are still strange and mysterious. Here’s our guide to who’s who!
First Appearance: Birds of Prey #1, 2005
Powers: None—considered one of the best martial artists in the world.
Although the White Canary has a radically different background in Legends of Tomorrow—as the resurrected Sara Lance, former Black Canary and sister to the current Black Canary, Laurel—the White Canary of the comics was a villainous foil to the Black Canary and the Birds of Prey.
A master of unarmed and armed melee combat, Canary was actually a member of The Brothers Silk, a group of twelve expert assassins for hire—their trainer, Si Fu Huang, murdered many of the daughters born to him, but kept White Canary alive after a bolt of lightning struck down her wet-nurse, making her the only female member of the Brothers. After the Birds of Prey stopped her, Canary became a rogue agent, hunting down her fellow Brothers to punish them for failing their mission.
First Appearance: Showcase #8, 1957
Powers: Cryogun, Cryokinesis in the New 52
Leonard Snart is a constant highlight of The Flash, and often has us rooting for him—even though he’s a villain. But why is he on a heroic team in Legends? Well, it’s not the first time he’s strayed from his usual roguish path.
Captain Cold is one of The Flash’s most persistent foes—and hilariously, he doesn’t really have a reason for being so. In his first appearance, Leonard reads about the Flash’s heroics in a newspaper, and decides to build a cold gun simply as a way to mess up the Flash’s day. The freezing aspect of his weapon was an unintended side-effect, but Snart rolled with it and christened himself Captain Cold.
His unorthodox origin also makes him just as likely to help the Flash as he is fight him. Captain Cold has a rigorous code of honor (including no killing unless absolutely necessary) that sometimes forces his hand and lets him rationalize helping out the superheroes he often fights against—and in some of DC’s many alternate realities, Cold and his Rogues are actually heroes rather than villains.
First Appearance: Showcase #34, 1961
Powers: Can shrink and grow his body at will, maintains his normal strength even at the tiniest scale.
Ray Palmer came to the Arrow universe the long way round—when he was first introduced in CW’s live-action universe, Ray’s superpowered persona was a little closer to Iron Man than the Ray Palmer of the comics. But he’s gotten his shrinking powers in Arrow recently, just in time for Legends.
A frequent ally of the Justice League, Ray was a Professor at Pace University who discovered some white dwarf star matter (as you do) and used his vast knowledge to fashion a lens out of it, which in turn created a field that could shrink objects to any size... and then make them explode. Shortly after Ray discovered that the ray’s unfortunate side-effect didn’t affect him for some reason—so he used the lens to become a superhero and fight crime as The Atom.
First Appearance: The Flash #140, 1963
Powers: Handgun Flamethrower, Pyrokinesis in the New 52
A pyromaniac as a child, Mick Rory was inspired by seeing the rogues in action to become a supervillain, donning a flame-retardant suit as Heat Wave. The first time he encountered Captain Cold, he actually fought against him as well as the Flash—because on top of his pyromania, Mick was also cryophobic after being locked in a freezer as a child (it’s almost like they really wanted a fire-based villain, isn’t it?). Soon after battling Cold, the Captain convinced Mick to join the Rogues, and they’ve been squabbling partners in crime ever since.
First Appearance: Firestorm, the Nuclear Man #1, 1978 (as Ronnie Raymond), Firestorm #1, 2004 (as Jason Rusch)
Powers: Flight, superhuman strength, ability to re-arrange the subatomic structure of matter into any shape and form.
While Flash viewers are already more than familiar with Ronnie Raymond, the first Firestorm, they’re going to be experiencing a new Firestorm going forward—based on an alternate version of the character. The firestorm matrix that binds the conciousness of Ronnie and Doctor Martin Stein into Firestorm was originally the result of a nuclear accident, allowing Ronnie to fuse Stein into his body, as a kind of secondary brain. Until Ronnie revealed how the process of becoming Firestorm worked, Stein had no idea what was happening to him when this happened.
But eventually, Ronnie dies in a miniseries called Identity Crisis, and the matrix seeks out a new host: a young black man named Jason Rusch who has turned to crime after the death of his mother. Rusch merges with Ronnie’s conciousness within the matrix and becomes Firestorm’s new primary form for several years, until Ronnie returned. In the new 52, Ronnie and Jason form the Firestorm matrix together and can change their outward appearance into either of themselves at will when fused.
So why isn’t Legends’ Firestorm called Jason? Well, because The Flash had already given the character’s name to a minor character as a cameo, so when the time came for a new Firestorm, a new name was needed too. Franz Drameh plays Jefferson “Jax” Jackson—who shares his name with Ronnie’s best friend from the original comics.
First Appearance: Flash Comics #1, 1941
Powers: Nth Metal armor and Mace, power of flight through wings
Hawkgirl and her often-partner Hawkman have some of the most maddeningly convoluted backgrounds in DC comics history. There have been multiple origins, but the one we’ve seen in Legends (handily Hawkman-splained in last night’s episode of The Flash) is mostly familiar to the character’s very first origins.
Carter Hall, an archaeologist, discovered that he was actually the re-incarnation of an ancient Egyptian prince named Khufu, murdered alongside his lover, Shiera, by a priest named Hath-Set. The act allowed Hath-Set to live forever—so long as he hunted down the reincarnations of Khufu and Shiera and murdered them again. Donning magical armor as the heroes Hawkman and Hawkgirl, Carter and the current incarnation of Shiera fight crime—but many years (and several reimaginings later), the mantle of Hawkgirl falls to a young girl named Kendra Saunders, who’s gotten possessed by Shiera’s spirit at the moment that she committed suicide.
Long story short? Hawkman is currently a space alien from a planet called Thanagar who’s real name is Katar Hol, and Kendra is still Hawkgirl—in the alternate reality of Earth-2. If Legends of Tomorrow somehow manages to cover any of that ridiculous backstory, it’ll be amazing.
First Appearance: Showcase #20, 1959
Powers: Inventor, knowledge of time travel (and trained in combat styles from across history)
Rip Hunter doesn’t technically have powers. A man from the future who invented a time travel device called the Time Sphere, Rip spent many years as an adventurer in time and space before he ultiamtely decided to use his power over time to police reality itself. Rip often comes to the aid of heroes, in an attempt to preserve certain events that could disrupt reality if changed, and eventually he discovers “hypertime”, the mind-boggling DC concept that essentially attempted to rationalize the existence of the DC Multiverse.
Eventually, Rip becomes the long-time associate and quasi-boss of fellow time travelling hero Booster Gold, and the two work together to monitor the time stream. In a moment of timey-wimeyness that would make Doctor Who proud, Rip actually discovers that Booster is his own dad—and that Booster has to keep acting like an inept goof in order to avoid messing up the timeline and wiping his son from existence.