DC Comics, partnered with America’s CW network, have been hugely successful with their current TV series Arrow and The Flash; the two shows recently resumed their 4th and 2nd series respectively, after a short break over the Christmas holidays. The two shows are extremely clever in the sense that they run alongside each other, with the occasional merging of plots. Now, the series are fully integrated in a whole new spin-off show in the form of Legends of Tomorrow.
Starring Doctor Who’s Arthur Darvill as time-traveller Rip Hunter, the new series brings together an amalgamation of characters who have previously featured in either Arrow or The Flash (or both). With a similar concept to the highly anticipated Suicide Squad, Rip Hunter, having come from the future, assembles a selection of miscreants in an attempt to confront a greater evil; antagonist Vandal Savage and an apocalypse that threatens to destroy not only Earth, but time itself. The idea is that the characters aren’t heroes, but criminals and losers (for want of a better word), and they won’t be missed if and when they die – they’re expendable (cue Suicide Squad comparisons).
Notwithstanding the intriguing plot line, the trailers that have been released in the run up to the pilot episode have received their fair share of criticism; viewers have made claims against the quality of the acting and the computer graphics. Another issue that has cropped up is the credibility of the characters featured in the show – The Atom, the alter-ego of Ray Palmer, played by Brandon Routh, is essentially a combination of Marvel’s Antman and Iron Man: The Atom’s suit is worryingly similar to Iron Man’s, with the addition of being able to shrink down to a minute size.
Episode 1 – Pilot, Part 1:
The pilot opens with a scene set in 2166, 150 years in the future; the sweeping shots detail the widespread destruction Vandal Savage is responsible for. We are then introduced to Rip Hunter, who is travelling through time and space to assemble the eight ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ – The Atom, Heatwave, Captain Cold, the 2 halves of Firestorm, White Canary, Hawkman and Hawkgirl. The episode is, unfortunately, riddled with some questionable graphics (perhaps due to a low budget) and cliché lines, but the episode’s fast pace works well to gloss over these flaws. Another issue is the missing detail behind each of the Legends – many of the individual backgrounds feel as though they are rushed through, leaving viewers new to The CW’s DC shows lacking in some much needed character development. However, Darvill throws himself into the role of Rip as he leads his rag-tag task force in search of information about Savage – because the episode is mostly centred around Rip’s travels, it jumps about in time a fair bit and if you’re not concentrating, it gets confusing very quickly. So, despite missing some important components, this pilot is, on the whole, a decent introduction into what is promises to be a gripping and original TV series. Once the kinks are ironed out, that is.
Episode 2 – Pilot, Part 2:
In the second part of the pilot episode, any doubts about the first part are quelled as many of the issues brought about are sorted out and smoothed over. Having got most of the plot set-up on firm foundations in Pilot, Part 1, Part 2 has much more room to dig deeper into the characters. Whilst the scripting is still a little bit of a let down, the actors deliver their lines convincingly, highlighting the skill the cast collectively possesses. About 5 minutes in, tension is rising as the Legends find Savage in the middle of a munitions deal in Norway, 1975; we’re greeted by a pretty impressive fight scene, featuring all the characters utilising their particular skills; Sara Lance in particular holds her own as the fabulous White Canary. This episode is also much more light-hearted than its precursor, a highlight being meeting Dr Stein as he was in 1975, and the amusing implications that arise from it. We get to see much more of Heatwave and Captain Cold at their best too; we’re not disappointed as they cooperate with Ray Palmer, providing viewers with a steady supply of witty comments. Rip Hunter is less prominent in this second episode, although this isn’t an issue as the lack of Rip means we see more of the other characters, balancing out the two episodes nicely. The episode is bookended by a second battle and it ends on a powerful, bitter-sweet note – at the end of the first episode, the Legends aren’t exactly united in their cause,, but as Part 2 fades to black, we’re left with the impression we can expect great things from the newly consolidated Legends of Tomorrow.
Episode 3 – Blood Ties:
The next instalment picks up almost exactly where Episode 2 finished, and we watch as the Legends split up in search of information about Savage; Rip and Sara Lance make quite the team as they find themselves in the middle of a gritty fight scene in which Lance wields multiple knives, whilst Rip’s weapon of choice is a coat stand. Heat Wave and Captain Cold are as witty as ever – Cold always has a one-liner up his sleeve – establishing themselves as the comedic duo of the group. In this episode, we get a few more glimpses into Rip’s past, and we see him reveal more of his true colours. The cool, calm and collected manner disappears, unveiling a much more volatile, emotional demeanour. By splitting the Legends into smaller parties we get to delve deeper into each separate character; when they’re filling up the screen all at the same time, it’s much harder for the audience to develop a ‘relationship’ with the individuals. However, Savage remains one of the weakest characters; Arrow and The Flash have had a series of captivating villains – for example, Damien Darhk is definitely a front runner. Savage just feels like a generic bad guy; he’s got a suit, a beard, an accent and, of course, a cohort of disciples. Played by Casper Crump, neither the character nor the actor bring anything special to the screen. All in all, this episode lives up to expectations set by the 2-part pilot, and this new series is definitely off to a strong start.
Words by Ruth Grove