Legends of Tomorrow Snart Dies

Legends of Tomorrow Review: Despite a Bumpy Take-Off, The CW's Hero/ Villain Mash-Up Promises Good Times

grade_BThere’s a point during the DC’s Legends of Tomorrow premiere (airing Thursday, Jan. 21 at 8/7c) where you may wish the sizzle reel from The CW’s May Upfronts had simply served as the set-up.

As established in that quasi-trailer over the course of 90 efficient seconds but drawn out in the actual pilot across several scenes, Rip Hunter (Doctor Who‘s Arthur Darvill) — a member of the time-hopping Time Masters — travels back to January 2016 to assemble a team of oneday “legends,” in hopes of thwarting immortal mad man Vandal Savage (Casper Crump).

In actual practice, Hunter’s invitation necessitates a great deal of discussion and debate. Can one half of Firestorm coax his reluctant partner to join in? Does Ray Palmer have anything to lose by bailing on the present? (And what advice does Green Arrow offer via a quick cameo?) And what could possibly convince ne’er-do-wells Captain Cold and Heat Wave to sign on for such a noble venture?

But once said conversations have been had, after the i’s are dotted and t’s crossed, the times ahead promise to be spread across the ages and a whole lotta fun.

The first two episodes touch on the show’s rules of time travel as well as give a sense of from where the weekly drama will come. Simply said, the Legends most often will either be following a lead that might allow them to intercept Savage at a time prior to 2166 (when he conquers and runs roughshod over the globe), or scrambling to undo a ripple they accidentally caused in the timeline. On that latter front, there is the potential to serve up the legends-of-tomorrow-hawkman-girl-saraoccasional Back to the Future-like folly — as happens in the super-enjoyable second episode, when Professor Stein (Victor Garber) fails to not bump into his younger, groovier self.

Viewers of Legends of Tomorrow‘s CW sires should be quite familiar with the main characters, though this deeper dive into their personalities paves the way for entertaining surprises. On The Flash, Wentworth Miller’s Leonard Snart consumes a steady diet of scenery; here, he gets to be more of a rascal. Similarly, Dominic Purcell’s Mick Rory evolves from a man of few words (and much flame) into a champion of the crazy. And whereas Ray Palmer on Arrow mainly served as a somewhat inert love interest, here Brandon Routh delivers an amusing mix of geeky swagger. Ray also enjoys greater command of his Atom-ic abilities, yet is still capable of the occasional “Whoops!”

Previously explored in drips and drabs across several Flash appearances, Professor Stein as a Legend is fleshed out and full of surprises; hopefully he will continue to be used as a walking historical encyclopedia (a role he crucially fills upon visiting the ’70s). Alas, the other half of Firestorm, Jax Jackson (Franz Drameh), as well as Hawkman and Hawkgirl (Falk Hentschel and Ciara Renée), head into this as relative unknowns and thus have the task of earning viewer engagement.

Brand-new to the CW scenelegends-tomorrow-rip-ray is Darvill’s Rip Hunter, who through much of the opening hours is saddled with gobs of exposition and the role of Exasperated Project Manager, as team members one by one run afoul of the “rules” he has laid out. An eventual twist or two, however, give the charmer some needed texture. Big Bad Savage is… well, a savage, here to say and do eeeevil things and little more.

That leaves Sara Lance, who as played by Arrow vet Caity Lotz enjoys the greatest — and most fun — resurgence, nudged as she has been by someone back home to seize this chance to be a “hero in the light,” as White Canary. Sara, along with Snart and Rory, is always game for a good time as they travel through times, a point made gloriously clear as the trio dive headfirst into an epic bar brawl that you’ll surely rewatch at least once.

The visual effects are on par with Arrow and The Flash. Rip’s ship, the Waverider, carves through the sky a la the Millennium Falcon and phases in and out of cloaking mode with a fun crackle, while a (British) “Gideon” AI serves as a quippy copilot. The group fight scenes, however, almost dare to be made sense of, populated as they are by guns and people simultaneously firing heat, cold, atomic pulses and lasers back and forth across the screen; that Savage is not brutally maimed during any such melee is no small miracle. Also, for all the payload that Captain Cold frequently unleashes, I don’t think we ever see anything actually end up frozen — except perhaps the CGI budget cap?

THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE: DC’s Legends of Tomorrow promises good times as its unlikely team travels through time — though it will require a superhuman effort to battle Big Bang, Grey’s and American Idol‘s final season.

 

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23 Comments
  1. spindae2 says:

    Enjoying preview. Like the objectivity and the lacm off suvar coating. I assumed the gathering of the team could be a bit boring and unallealing but when it happens it should be much more enjoyable.

    Looking forward to Sara and Snart, my personal favorites, also both parts of Firestorm seem interesting.

  2. Dan says:

    would I have to know my flash and arrow in order to understand this show? I haven’t watched either one, but this looks interesting.

    • spindae2 says:

      I think yes. Besides Sara, the other had to much to do on Arrow and Flash, so if U’re interested U have like 10-15 minutes reading to do on the Arrow wikia and U can tune in without major issues.

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

      I would say that the opening recruitment montage makes crystal clear who is who and what they each can do. The conversations/debates that follow (plus a repeat of the Hawkpersons’ origin story) pretty much fill in any blanks.

    • Trent says:

      You will be fine without watching them. The characters will all be somewhat different from previous shows. Plus, they will be reintroduced in these new circumstances. No way do the creators expect everyone to be caught up with Flash and Arrow.

  3. “Rip’s ship, the Waverider” To quote Captain America, “I understood that reference”.

  4. When I hear Rip tell the others that where he comes from they are not heroes, they are legends, I can’t help but be reminded that where he comes from (i.e. the comics) he’s a lying con man, lol. He’s playing some sort of game with them by stroking their egos. I don’t imagine it’s for nefarious reasons, merely that instead of telling them the truth he is telling them these lies about who they become so they’d be more willing to help him thwart Savage. Cold and Heat Wave, legends, really? If it was Pied Piper, who does become more heroic, I’d believe it.

    • Ronnie says:

      I literally knew nothing of Rip Hunter’s backstory from the comics, and you just ruined it in a comment before the show even premiered. Thanks.

      • lol. Well, you should read more comics. That’s the problem with these adaptations, they aren’t inciting people to make them read the source material, which is why sales aren’t as high as they could be given the attention these adaptations get. Get the Booster Gold series from before Flashpoint (i.e. published before 2011), get anything with the Linear Men in it from the 80’s and90’s, which would mainly be the Superman comics. These are great stories worth reading. Get Armageddon 2001, published in 1991.

      • brawl2099 says:

        There’s a handful of different versions of Rip. I wouldn’t worry about Michael’s comment ruining anything. I know there’s lying con man Rip, there’s flawed hero Rip, there’s stern mentor Rip… It looks like Darvill is playing “the Doctor crossed with Han Solo” Rip, which we haven’t seen yet.

  5. JC says:

    Thanks for the review. I hope there’s a lot of Sara and Snart. They’re my favorites.

  6. kate says:

    I sense it will have no issues overtaking heroes. There are only three left. I’m vaguely concerned that those of us watchers of the originals are dreading the same as I am. The crossover promised no more set up but they defeated Vandal. Yes Malcolm swept some dust up and he could have set it up for a future Ra’s to reanimate but I’m dreading more of this show creeping into Arrow. Heck, Legends can have Malcolm and the whole of the League to bug them.

  7. Jason says:

    Heroes’ finale and Legend’s premiere are on the same night so I don’t foresee much in the way of a ratings conflict on that front.

  8. herman1959 says:

    Do to the amount of exposition required, I’m surprised that the premier isn’t two-hours long. Anyhoo, good review, and it looks like I’ll be watching 5 hours of comic-hero shows over 4 days come January. That’s Supergirl on Monday, The Flash and Agent Carter on Tuesday, Arrow on Wednesday, and Legends on Thursday. Fortunately, I do have hulu.

  9. Mr. Tran K says:

    Really looking forward to it come January 21st. This is destined to be the first breakout hit of 2016.

  10. Bwhit says:

    I’m really looking forward to this. The pictures with Cold, Sara and Heatwave in the bar look interesting for sure. I am so excited for Wentworth Miller to appear weekly on my TV again.

  11. Joey Padron says:

    Glad you like first 2 episodes of the show Matt. Good review you give the show. So excited to see the show in a few weeks!

  12. Gail says:

    I was hoping they would have done the setup during the characters appearances on The Flash and Arrow this season. Since that didn’t happen I assumed the first episode would mostly be the setup and that the show proper wouldn’t start until episode 2. That appears to be the case. With a large cast I wonder if they will take turns with who has the major story line each week. Per the review it seems Professor Stein takes the lead in episode 2.

    I just saw that the first two episode names are Pilot Part 1 and Part 2 so maybe the producers intended to air this a two hour movie and maybe it would play better that way so they don’t lose viewers who are less impressed with a first episode that mostly just explains the series .