After a lot of preview material, and a slow build across both Arrow and Flash, Legends of Tomorrow finally debuts, the newest addition to the CW-verse, or Arrow-verse, depending on which name you like better. Rip Hunter gathers a group of heroes and villains both to fight the immortal evil of Vandal Savage. Except for Rip himself, all of the other characters have appeared on Flash and/or Arrow. It really was one of the longest builds to a new series I can remember seeing. The CW shows are showing the same attention to continuity and building a cohesive world that Marvel Studios is using on their shows, and the DC movies so far have utterly failed to.
Legends begins in 2166, during what they call the Second Blitz. London is being battered by Savage’s army. We see in particular the death of a woman and her son, who Savage seems to know. It’s a grim scene that does a fine job of showing how bad things will be under Vandal’s rule.
The next scene is Rip Hunter, arguing before the Time Master Council. He mentions previous threats to world peace like Hitler and Per Degaton. Per Degaton was a time traveling bad guy that originally fought the Justice Society back in the 1940’s in the comics. There’s been no real mention of the JSA in any video project since Smallville, so it’s a nice little nod. Rip is clearly passionate about opposing Vandal Savage, and the rest of the Council seems to be arguing for what sounds a lot like the Star Trek Prime Directive, or Dr. Who’s Time Lords and their policy of “non-involvement.” Eventually, Rip leaves aboard his ship the Waverider, run by an Artificial Intelligence called Gideon. Waverider is another time traveling character in DC Comics. Gideon is also the name of Professor Wells’ AI from the future on Flash. I wonder if this is another variation of that same program, or if Gideon is just a popular brand in his/its era, sort of the future Windows, or maybe Siri
Rip then runs around and collects his team, from familiar places like Star and Central Cities, to further places like Tibet, and St. Roch, one-time home of Hawkman and Hawkgirl in the comics. His chosen fighters end up on the roof of a building, where Hunter delivers the rousing speech about being legends that’s been in almost every commercial they’ve shown for the show.
The characters go their separate ways to consider this. Atom gets advice from Green Arrow, Hawkman and Hawgirl decide by combat, Sara visits Laurel, and the parts of Firestorm argue. This actually leads to one of the more disturbing parts of the show to me. Professor Stein drugs Jax to being him along against his will. This is a hero? I know the show is supposed to be a mix of heroes and villains, but I didn’t realize that meant each individual character.
Eventually, everyone gets on the ship. Again, no great surprise if you’ve been paying attention to the commercials. It’s entertaining watching Palmer and Stein science geek about the Waverider. It’s a bit less entertaining to hear Stein’s putdowns of Palmer. Stein is rapidly becoming less likable than Heat Wave, and Heat Wave is utterly insane. After the ship leaves, one of the bad guys shows up and shows himself to be not particularly concerned with innocent bystanders.
Rip has a plan to track down Vandal, which involves a quick stop-off in the 70’s to see Professor Boardman. Boardman is the same man we saw on the VCS tape talking about Savage during the big Arrow/Flash crossover. As they go to consult with him, we learn both that Rip is ruthlessly pragmatic and that Boardman has a connection to at least one of the group.
As some of the group learns about, and from, Boardman, most of the rest of them go out for a drink. This goes about as well as you’d expect, but makes for some amusing scenes. One of the group is left on the Waverider, and they get a very unwelcome visitor. They manage to get away, barely, after everyone gets back on board. While Rip repairs the ship, the team learns a few unpleasant truths about their mission. With the air cleared, and a death, the team has to decide who, if any of them, are going to continue with Rip’s mission. The last scene is Vandal Savage up to no good elsewhere.
What I liked: Captain Cold and Heat Wave had a great rhythm on Flash, and that continues here. Atom is very determined to be a hero and make something of himself. Rip’s determination makes even more sense when his backstory is revealed. There were amusing throw away lines referring to both Star Wars and Star Trek. The reveal about the mission I didn’t see coming at all, and I thought was really well done.
What I didn’t: The scene with Stein and Jax really rubbed me the wrong way, and the fact that it pretty much seems to be forgotten by the end of the episode is insane. In a show with people who fly, burst into flame, and shrink, that feels like the most unbelievable part to me. My only other particular concern is that with so many people, it’s going to be hard for everyone to get decent screen time, and, aside from Stein, I like them all.