I’m pretty sure DC’s Legends of Tomorrow marks the first live-action superhero team-up show on television, but even if it wasn’t, it’d still be a pretty big deal. Unlike other superhero team ups, our main cast doesn’t consist of big-name characters. Instead, our ragtag crew is filled with lesser known heroes and villains, such as White Canary, Captain Cold, and Atom. Not only was the first half of Legends of Tomorrow’s pilot fun, the show is also giving the spotlight to characters many people wouldn’t be familiar with otherwise.
Living nearly a century and a half from now, Rip Hunter works as a time lord, someone who is charged with protecting the timeline. However, when Vandal Savage, an immortal hell bent on world domination who’s also responsible for bringing about nearly every major war in history, murders Hunter’s wife and son, Hunter breaks his oath and attempts to put a stop to Savage. He travels back to 2016 and gathers a group of eight side characters from The Flash and Arrow and tells them that in the future they are legends. With them, Hunter plans to travel back in time to when Savage had less militaristic power and would be easier to kill.
It turns out, however, that the people Hunter chooses are not legends in the future. They are more or less inconsequential to the timeline. Hunter chose them because changing history can have adverse effects, and in the current future they amount to nothing. This is something most of them are none too pleased to hear about—though by the point they find out, they’ve already started time-jumping with Hunter on a quest to find Savage. Despite this setback, they decide that they all want to change their own fates and make something of themselves, so they all agree to continue on their journey with Hunter in order to make a difference.
I was super excited for Legends when I first started seeing previews for it—Sara Lance is back as White Canary, and one of my favorite Flash villains Captain Cold is a main character—and I have to say that Legends didn’t let me down. The show has a lot of characters to get through, and because of that, the pilot did seem a little short. Although, it is apparently only the first half. Unfortunately, the second half won’t air until next week, but I can only hope that it’s as fun as this episode.
At first glance, most of the characters have very little in common. The hero Firestorm is actually two people, a professor of physics and a former football player. When the two of them fuse together and merge into one body like a couple of Saiyans, they get awesome pyrokinetic abilities. Team Time also has a pair of criminals going along with them, Captain Cold and Heat Wave, the latter of which “likes killing people”. We’ve got White Canary, a former assassin who died and came back to life. Atom is a genius billionaire who gave up his company after an attempt on his own life. Then there’s also Hawkman and Hawkgirl, who were born in Egypt nearly four thousand years ago and have been reincarnating over and over again through the millennia.
Despite all these differences, the team works. For Firestorm, the professor sees this as a wonderful opportunity, while the football player realizes how much he loves being on a team again, despite not initially wanting to come. Team Time is filling a void in his life that he didn’t realize had been there. It was also super fun to see Captain Cold, White Canary, and Heat Wave go out for drinks in the 70s and get into a bar fight together—there seems to be a bit of a friendship or blossoming romance between Cold and Canary, which I am totally down for. White Canary, over the course of Arrow, was outed as bisexual and canonically had relationships with both men and women. Her character gave us some much need representation, and despite a potential romance (I am kind of hoping just for a platonic friendship, but whatever) with Cold, Legends still gave us a scene of Canary flirting with another woman. I love that her character is allowed to be open and active with her sexuality and not shamed for it.
Through Hawkgirl and the football player, Legends also has a couple people of color. We don’t know all that much about either of these characters at this point in time—we’ve only seen them once or twice on Arrow and The Flash, but Legends looks like a perfect opportunity to get to know them and flesh out their characters in meaningful ways. Unfortunately, Hawkman, is not also a person of color—or if he is, he’s certainly very white passing. I’m still calling bullshit on this, because he’s from Egypt. What the Ancient Egyptians actually looked like is a bit up for debate, but it’s pretty safe to say that they were not white. Many accounts tell us that they had dark skin and hair. I don’t think it’s asking too much to stop casting white people for these roles.
I can’t say I’m too excited about the villain, Savage, since Savage has bored me in just about every incarnation he’s ever had. I know he’s supposed to be scary and super dangerous, but we already saw him get defeated in a couple team up episodes between Arrow and The Flash, so I can’t say how worried I am that our heroes and villain protagonists will fail in their endeavors. Regardless, I’m still excited to see where Legends takes all these characters and look forward to the inevitable struggles and bonding all of them will undergo in future episodes to come.