The impressive and ever-expanding DC Comics Television universe is about to a get a bit bigger (and crazier) with the mid-season debut of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow on The CW. Fans of Arrow and The Flash have already seen the seeds planted for the super-powered team-up series earlier this season on those respective shows, but after much anticipation the Legends are finally getting their time to shine.
With a lot of the heavy back story wisely taken care of by prior appearances on Arrow and The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is able to jump right into setting up this bonkers time-travel action adventure. The first episode, Pilot, Part 1, (written by Marc Guggenheim, Phil Klemmer, Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg and directed by Glen Winter) is fairly ambitious in scope while hopping from a war-torn future, to the current DC TV timeline and even the 1970’s. The episode is a bit all over the place and struggles occasionally to find its voice, but still ends up being an extremely fun piece of popcorn, comic book television.
Arthur Darvill stars as the main new cast member, Rip Hunter, a time traveler on a mission to recruit this oddly-paired team of heroes and villains to save the world from the immortal Vandal Savage (Casper Crump). The Doctor Who actor is wonderfully cast in the role, bringing vulnerability and charm that should make him an immediate fan favorite. As Savage, Crump got a huge showcase during the recent Arrow/Flash crossover, but plays a much smaller role in this episode with his presence felt more times than actually seen.
Heading back to Rip Hunter for a second – what’s a good time traveler without a really cool time machine? Well Rip Hunter’s ship, the Waverider, is incredibly cool and even comes equipped with its own A.I. system, Gideon, that curiously shares a name with the A.I. that Harrison Wells/Reverse-Flash brought back with him from the future. The ship is a mix of Serenity and Millenium Falcon and immediately demands a replica statue/toy.
In that regard, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is heavy on the sci-fi and has a huge amount of potential to play around within the time travel angle. The 70’s section of the episode really showed how much fun these characters can be in the different settings, and how the possibilities are literally endless. Think of the fun retro vibe found in X-Men: First Class, but with way more eras to explore. It gives Legends a more distinctive and original feel that sets it apart when compared with Arrow, The Flash and even Supergirl.
Brandon Routh as The Atom/Ray Palmer is the heart of the team, and his reason to join this insane quest comes from a very sincere place for the character. Routh has found his career-defining character and it’s not Superman – The Atom is just so darn likable in the DC TV continuity and his powers are the coolest to watch in action during the first episode.
Not all of the character fare as well as The Atom, though. Falk Hentschel as Carter Hall/Hawkman still isn’t quite working for me. The creative team still haven’t sold me that he’s this big, gruff fearsome warrior – he’s just missing some fire in his performance. Also, one of my favorite team members, Professor Stein (Victor Garber), makes some strange out-of-character choices in the episode, resulting in him and his Firestorm half, Jefferson “Jax” Jackson (Franz Drameh), feeling lost in the first hour.
On the other hand, the less virtuous team members are the x-factors that make the cast so interesting. Wentworth Miller is so slimy and cool as Leonard Snart/Captain Cold that I expect every breath he takes to exhale cold fog without the aid of special effects. The believable angle that Snart and Mick Rory/Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell) could turn on the team at any second makes for entertaining tension.
Although, even though Purcell gleefully continues to chew the scenery in the role of Heat Wave, he still gets some really cringe-inducing lines that not even he can pull off. But the character pairings within the narrative also provide lots of cool dynamics to play around with, and Sara Lance/White Canary (Caity Lotz) palling around with the two Rogues is particularly fun to watch.
The first episode of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow takes some mild but interesting twists, and the pieces are in place for what could be an extremely imaginative, refreshingly fun series, but there’s just enough inconsistency in Pilot, Part 1 to shed some doubt on whether or not the show can find its footing. That being said, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow does succeed in being a pure, sci-fi popcorn romp that just needs a little more work to fully realize the series’ potential.