When heroes alone are not enough … the world needs legends.
Legends of Tomorrow premiered a few days ago, bringing yet another rag-tag bunch of superheroes team to the small screen. A spin-off that used Arrow and The Flash to launch, the show features Captain Cold, Atom, Firestorm, White Cannary, Heat Wave, Hawkgirl and Hawkman, all led by the Rip Hunter, a Time Master (not Lord!), who banded them all together in order to stop the savage Vandal Savage – the only man to have ever successfully gained control of the entire Earth.
I admit to having low expectations, considering how hit and miss most TV series tend to be, but I was pleasantly surprised by Legends of Tomorrow. Don’t get me wrong, it’s cheesy, sometimes over the top and more than once unintentionally hilarious, but somehow it works. Like many others the comparisons to Doctor Who made me smile more than once – everything from the stole time travelling ship to the coat and the superior way in which Rip tended to treat his companions, peppered up with white lies to further his plans was a sure fire way to get whovians giggling. Arthur Darvill’s presence did nothing to make me think differently, either. But again, it works.
There are still some things that need working on, particularly when it comes to the pacing of the story, but for the first episode it was catchy enough to make me tune in again this week.
**Here be spoilers**
Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) is a Time Master who decides, against the will of his kind to go back in time, recruiting a team of misfits, in order to stop a villainous man on a power trip. Convincing a bunch of thieves, assassins and scientists to join in on this mission seemed like a hard bargain, considering he was asking them to save a world that would burn to ashes long after they were dead, so he appealed to their need to be heroes, dazzling them with tales of their legendary status into the future.
Alas, it was all lies, leaving us with a dramatic moment that solved itself way too quickly for my liking. They were chosen because they were nobodies that wouldn’t alter the timeline by disappearing, leaving them upset and reeling from the news. It was dramatic, like I mentioned, but it got solved so quickly that it was almost unnatural. I think Captain Cold and Heat Wave came off as the most realistic ones of the bunch – they joined so they could steal things with more ease. They have a time machine at their disposal, after all.
I suppose one thing that did bug me about Legends of Tomorrow was the amount of convenient things that had to happen in order for Rip’s plan to work – the bad guys showing up at the exact moment to spur everyone into action, giving them limited time to think his offer over, the child of the reincarnated Hawkgirl and Hawkman giving them exactly what was needed to find the bad guy – then promptly dying to force the two into joining on Rip’s quest and so on.
That aside, the episode was amazing: action packed, allowing most characters a scene or two to establish their motivations and personality (which is helpful for those that have not kept up with Arrow and The Flash), though it seemed like the emphasis fell on Rip Hunter’s character, who was given perhaps the most to do (He was however the one never to feature in the aforementioned shows). Still, while most people appreciated his performance, the fact that a fridged woman is the reason for his actions has rubbed quite a few fans the wrong way. Having a child thrown into the mix did nothing to appease them either. (They still have a long way to catch up to the CW’s poster child for stuffing female characters into fridges that is Supernatural, however. And hey, it features time travel with the purpose of changing the time line – so there’s that.)
Meet two of my favourite characters. No, it’s not only because of Prison Break. I think one of the reasons I immediately took to them was because they were the least idealistic ones in the bunch. It might sound horrible, but I prefer my fictional characters perfectly anchored in reality, damn it! They are in it for the money, not the fame, which actually, in the world of comic books increases their chances of survival by about 75% (I just made up that statistic). Dr. Palmer, Jefferson Jackson, Dr. Stein are motivated by the idealistic need to be better, to save the world and make their mark on it, but somehow I just don’t find them as compelling as a bunch of criminals. Which brings me to my other favourite character:
Sara Lance, now known as the White Canary really made an impression on me when she first showed up on Arrow and post the Lazarus Pit and Constantine’s involvement, she seems now better than ever (if quite damaged, but death will do that to you). Here she still kicks ass, is more cynical about the situation than most and has a firm grasp on reality. Not to mention a penchant for getting in trouble and getting herself out of it just as quickly.
The other characters barely left an impression, Hawkgirl, Hawkman could’ve just as well stayed at home, with how little they managed to engage me in a story that featured them a lot. Their story is entwined with that of Vandal Savage, spanning millennia of hatred, suffering and murder, yet the flat performances of both Ciara Renee and Flak Hentschel left me cold. The chemistry between them was close to zero and while that might be a conscious choice, to show how the two characters are linked, yet separated by her lack of memory when it comes to their shared pasts, it made for a jarring counterpoint to everyone else’s performance.
All in all, it was good, but I don’t think the show runners should stop trying to outdo themselves. If they rely on people’s loyalty to the characters and actors alike, they might find themselves disappointed.
The next episode will air on the 28th of January, so we won’t have much to wait and see if the show manages to deliver another good instalment or it will lose its way, trying too hard to be one of the cool kids. I’ll be watching, will you?