I’ve never made any secret of my love for comic book television, especially those shows set in The CW‘s Arrow-Verse. I was ecstatic when ‘Arrow’ was given a spin-off in ‘The Flash’ and I was even more excited a year ago when I found out last year that another spin-off was in the works. That show went on to become ‘DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’ — a daring attempt at borrowing some of the supporting characters from both of its parent shows in what promised to be a time traveling epic, the likes of which we haven’t seen in a live-action comics setting before.
We have reached the half-way point of the show’s freshman season, and so far I haven’t been let down. No, Legends of Tomorrow is not perfect. What show is? But overall I’ve been really happy with this third installment into the Arrow-Verse. I would like to take the opportunity provided by this brief hiatus to go over some of what I think is working for the series, and some of what isn’t.
Things that I have liked:
- I think the absolute best thing on ‘Legends’ has been Wentworth Miller’s portrayal of Leonard Snart/Captain Cold. Miller became an instant fan-favorite when he was introduced during season 1 of ‘The Flash’ and that has continued here. He steals the scene nearly every time he is on screen. I’ve loved his interactions with the other characters; especially Ray Palmer/The Atom and his partner Mick Rory/Heatwave. Whether he is trying to figure out what makes the more heroic characters tick, or struggling to keep control of Heatwave, he has yet to disappoint. After suffering a deep betrayal at the hands of Heatwave, Cold recently executed him (or so we are lead to believe). I can’t wait to see what effect this has as he has to come to terms with killing his oldest (and possibly only) friend.
- The special effects have been great overall, especially on a television show’s budget. A couple highlights include when The Atom emerged from one of Martin Stein’s pockets during the second episode, taking out a number of Savage’s men in the process, and during the fifth episode when Russian Scientist, Valentina Vostok, briefly became Firestorm. I thought that the hawk-men of the latest episode looked great, and creepy, as well.
- I’ve enjoyed Casper Crump as the immortal Vandal Savage quite a bit. The Arrow-Verse has a history of taking characters I’m not a huge fan of in the comics, and really making me enjoy their live action counter-parts. Savage is no exception.
- Getting to see some possible futures has been fun. In episode 6 the Legends traveled to Star City in the year 2046 and were introduced to both new and old Green Arrows. I thought Stephen Amell did a great job portraying an older version of the character that made him famous, and I loved seeing the show’s take on Conner Hawke. No, he isn’t the exact same as in the comics. On the show he is the son of John Diggle, rather than Oliver Queen, but that was a twist that I thought worked really well. With his commitment to ‘Arrow’ I doubt we will see Amell as the future Oliver again, but I’m hoping we at least see Conner at some point. Fortunately, it sounds like that’s a possibility.
Things that need some work on Legends of Tomorrow:
- Rip Hunter’s lack of effectiveness as a leader is definitely a problem. Numerous times he has split the team up, for seemingly pointless reasons, resulting in the team nearly being killed time and time again. Once or twice it has made sense, like wanting to keep Sara and Ray from seeing Star City 2046, but more often than not it blows up in his face, such as when attacking Savage in Russia, he splits them up leading to the capture of Mick, Sara, and Ray. Jax put it best in episode 5 when he said to Rip, “You’re playing chess without all your pieces on the board.” There have been a couple times where various characters have mentioned needing to work as a team, but Rip has yet to take that lesson to heart.
- Something else that has bothered me is the number of times Ray has left the Waverider without his suit. Multiple times they have shown that he can shrink his suit when he’s not wearing it, for easier transport. Why would he ever go in the field and, at minimum, not have his suit in his pocket where he can quickly get to it when needed? In the latest episode Ray brought one of his gauntlets in a scenario where he didn’t have the full suit. I was happy to see that he finally used some common sense there, though I would have preferred the entire suit. Baby steps I guess.
- Speaking of going into the field unprepared, Martin and Jax have also been separated numerous times, through their own fault. Either they split up with one leaving the ship while the other remains back, or, they are not physically close to each other when they are in the field, making it somewhere between difficult and impossible for them to create Firestorm. To be fair, in episode 8 Jax wanted to merge while aboard the Waverider and Martin refused saying it would be too dangerous while on the ship. While I’m not sure I agree with that, at least they gave an in-story reason for not merging.
- Seemingly, the characters and story are done with this plot point, but I would be remiss if I did not mention Martin drugging Jax in episode 1, forcing him to go on this mission against his will. There is no getting around it. I think that was an absolutely terrible decision by the writers. I just can’t reconcile that with Martin’s character up to (and since) that point. If the writers insisted on including that scenario, the obvious choice would have been for Captain Cold to have drugged Heatwave.
While I admit those negatives stick out to me, I am still really enjoying Legends of Tomorrow. It’s effectively one giant crossover, which is a good thing. That said, I don’t know if the current format can support a second season, as I have to assume Vandal Savage will be defeated in the season finale, but I am definitely excited that it was renewed. I feel that this is a show that could lend itself largely to being more of an anthology, with characters coming and going as the story dictates. I would like to see them use the opportunity that time travel provides and bring Conner Hawke onto the team. This show could be a great way to introduce even more characters. A couple off the top of my head would be Booster Gold (Rip’s father) and the Legion of Superheroes (whom may be showing up elsewhere, but would fit in well with ‘Legends’). Perhaps something similar to the pre-New 52 comic series ‘Booster Gold’ where he traveled the time stream with Rip Hunter fixing various time anomalies.
If they wanted to move away from time travel and work towards a story that is smaller in scope, I would enjoy a more traditional team series set in the present day. They could add in characters like Vixen or Arsenal to mix it up (though I’m hoping that at least the bulk of the current cast is still around). After his awesome appearance earlier this year on ‘Arrow,’ I would love to see Matt Ryan as John Constantine brought in.
In the short term, for the remainder of the first season, I would like to see the team practice and train together to improve their effectiveness. That’s especially true of Kendra whom still seems like she hasn’t regained all of her past lives’ experience. Also, Rip needs to either improve as a leader or step aside, at least when in the field. Ray may seem the obvious choice for a field leader but I think Captain Cold would actually be well suited to the part, provided the others could handle following him.
What do you think? What have you liked? Where is the show needing improvement?