While DC’s recent superhero movies have gotten mixed reviews for being too dark or brooding or not understanding the source material (particularly with Superman), they seem to be doing everything right with their television shows. Programs such as Arrow and, especially, The Flash remember that these shows are based on comic books and that comic books, at their heart, are supposed to be fun. Much like their competition at Marvel has built a shared universe with their movies and, to a lesser extent, their TV shows, DC has done the same. The Flash spun off of Arrow and the characters regularly appear on both shows. Now comes a third show in the so-called Arrowverse, DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow.
In the show, an immortal villain named Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) has taken over the world. The year is 2166 and a time traveler named Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill), whose wife and kid had been killed by Savage, decides to travel (against the will of the Time Masters Council) to the year 2016 to recruit a team of heroes and villains in order to stop Savage before this all happens.
They are Ray Palmer/Atom (Brandon Routh), Sara Lance/White Canary (Caity Lotz), the Firestorm pair of Professor Martin Stein (Victor Garber) and Jefferson Jackson (Franz Drameh), and Carter Hall/Hawkman (Falk Hentschel) and Kendra Saunders/Hawkgirl (Ciara Renée). He also adds the criminal team of Leonard Snart/Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) and his partner Mick Rory/Heatwave (Dominic Purcell). Each character is recruited based on his or her unique skill sets in tracking down Savage and, in the case of Hawkman and Hawkgirl, their ancient connection to him. Like Savage, they are immortal and have been repeatedly reincarnated over a 4,000-year period.
Being a time-travel show gives Legends endless opportunities for fun plotlines and the show takes full advantage of that. The two-part pilot finds the team traveling to 1975 where they meet with Professor Boardman (Peter Francis James), an expert on Savage, with the hopes of learning how to track him down. We also learn here that Boardman is the son of Hall and Saunders from one of their past lives. The team’s ship, the Waverider, is attacked by Chronos, who was sent by the Time Council, who are angry with Hunter for going against their wishes for the mission. The team first encounters Savage at a weapons auction and Palmer accidentally leaves behind a piece of his Atom suit, infuriating Hunter, who shows him what could happen in the future as his technology is reverse-engineered and used for weapons of mass destruction. The show does a good job, both here and throughout, of showing how the slightest thing can change the timeline in significant ways. The team also looks for the dagger that killed Hall and Saunders in their first life and we learn that only weapons from that time period and only wielded by Saunders, can kill Savage.
The episode “Blood Ties” finds the group still in 1975, this time trying to stop Savage by cutting off his resources. If he has no money, he can’t make his weapons and he is just a harmless, albeit immortal man, or so they believe. They find the bank where Savage’s fortune is, but soon find out it is run by his people. At the same time, Snart tries to go back in time to prevent his father from going to jail for theft, but it doesn’t have the outcome he expected. Snart’s character, while a thief, goes through major character development throughout the season, and he proves himself to be a heroic and vital asset to the team. Miller gives a strong performance of this very complex character. The '70s episodes make for some humorous moments about bad clothes and cheap beer and the team’s encounter with a young, hippie version of Professor Stein adds a comic element to the show. The storylines here are serious, but played out in a lighthearted, very comic-book way.
In “White Knights,” the group travels to 1986 at the height of the Cold War. They go undercover and stage a sloppy, if not effective, break in at the Pentagon where they find a file leading them to a Russian scientist Valentina Vostok (Stephanie Corneliussen) who is trying to build an army of Russian Firestorms. Palmer, Stein, and Snart infiltrate her base with the help of injestable translators (which enabled the users to speak and understand Russian), only to get captured and she soon learns of Stein’s connection to Firestorm and tries to use that to her advantage. At the same time, Hunter’s mentor Zaman Druce (Martin Donovan) offers Hunter a deal to send back everyone to their times if he surrenders. This arc continues in the episode “Fail-Safe.” In an attempt to get Stein to talk, the Russians torture Palmer and Rory (who had also been captured). Palmer takes a beating to spare Rory, much to Rory’s surprise. They encounter Chronos once again, whose attack leads them to Star City in the year 2046, where they encounter a man they believe to be Green Arrow. This was an excellent pair of episodes that tested the loyalties of several characters and demonstrated the heroism of the team.
“Marooned” finds the team receiving a distress signal from another time vessel, the Akeron. Hunter, Stein, Jefferson, and Rory all board the ship, only to find they had walked into a trap, with all but Stein being captured by time pirates who want the Waverider. Rory, who is upset that he was brought back from 2046 where he had been recruited to a team for his ability to set things on fire, decides to side with the pirates. It is a surprising move and Snart, who feels responsible for him, says he will take care of him. What happens next is open to interpretation by the viewer. This episode shows the changing dynamic between Rory and Snart and how Snart was becoming more of a hero and Rory was still content to be a bad guy. Rory is very self conscious about his perceived lack of intelligence and he was grateful to feel wanted when he was in the year 2046.
The team travels to the old west in 1871 in “The Magnificent Eight.” They initially go there to hide out from the Hunters, a group sent by the Time Masters to kill the team. Saunders meets the version of herself from that timeline, who warns her not to get emotionally attached to anyone other than Hall as it always ends badly otherwise. Saunders had been getting closer to Palmer during this time. The team defeats the Stillwater Gang, with their leader Jeb and Hunter engaging in a duel. Palmer is all about exploring the Old West and is excited to play sheriff in the town, much to the chagrin of some of his teammates. Routh plays the "geek scientist excited to play cowboy" to the hilt and carries the episode. They encounter the Hunters and later find out the Time Masters have sent the Pilgrim, a time traveler tasked with killing the younger versions of themselves to effectively erase them from the timeline.
The season concludes with “Legendary.” We learn that aliens known as the Thanagarians sent three meteors to ancient Egypt. Savage plans to use Saunders’ and Hall’s blood to activate the alien technology contained within these meteors to revert time back to 1700 B.C. where he can become ruler. Stein figures out that Savage plans to perform the blood ritual in three different times — 1958, 1975, and 2021 — to create the time paradox necessary to accomplish this. The team travels to these three different periods in an attempt to defeat Savage.
The show is presented in 1080p High Definition 16x9 (1.78:1) and looks great. The colors are vivid, and the special effects, particularly for a TV show, are excellent. The audio is in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Among the bonus features are the 2015 Comic Con panel from San Diego, A Fantastic Voyage: Touring The Waverider Set, History In The Making (about time traveling through history with the characters), and Jonah Hex: Hex Marks The Spot, which is about the Jonah Hex character, who they encounter while in the Old West.
Fans looking for the gritty, often forced darkness of the DC Extended Universe may be disappointed with Legends Of Tomorrow. For fans who love their comic-book characters to be treated as such, and who love fun adventures and good storytelling, this is the show for you.