'DC's Legends of Tomorrow' is the best comic book TV show you probably aren't watching
There is clearly no shortage of comic book television series on the air today. Between Marvel and DC, the number easily soars into double digits. But even more so than Netflix's Marvel series, DC has created an ambitious, and largely well-executed, interconnected universe on the CW. The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow all exist in the same multiverse — even if on different earths.
The idea of the Arrowverse is actually quite brilliant, because for viewers to get the most out of each series, you really need to watch them all. If not, you may actually miss little nods that are important to the series — like Barry Allen's message to Rip Hunter in Legends of Tomorrow. Still, The Flash and Supergirl consistently have higher ratings than both Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow. And that's a shame, because each show has something different to offer its audience.
While its audience has dwindled since its move to the CW, Supergirl is soaring in terms of narrative. It is ahead of the curve in its portrayal of the relationship between Alex Danvers and Maggie Sawyer, and consistently is a fun hour of television. The Flash, for most of its existence, has been the strongest of the Arrowverse shows, and does a nice job of mixing dark moments with more lighthearted ones. And Arrow, of course, remains the darkest of the series on the network.
And then there's Legends of Tomorrow. Thanks largely to a lackluster first season, Legends of Tomorrow is seen by many as the weak link of the Arrowverse — and for the most part, its ratings reflect that notion. The first season took itself incredibly seriously, which ultimately led to a convoluted plot, one-dimensional villain and low interest. But if you gave up on the show before season two, you have missed out — big time.
Legends of Tomorrow
The second season of Legends of Tomorrow does anything but take itself seriously. It has completely embraced the campiness of its time travel plot, allowing viewers to largely ignore the narrative holes that it presents. Now, perhaps more than any other series on the air right now, Legends of Tomorrow is just a hell of a lot of fun. Thanks largely to its great ensemble, I find myself caring less and less about what "makes sense" in the series.
For example, the most recent episode of Legends of Tomorrow featured a new reality crafted by the Legion of Doom — who I must say are my favorite villains on television right now. Eobard Thawne and the rest of the Legion succeed in rewriting reality using the Spear of Destiny (see, just listen to how ridiculous that sounds). For all intents and purposes, it looks like the Legion of Doom has won. The Legends have all had their memories wiped, meaning there is no way they would even know that they had to work to fix reality.
Then comes the convenient fix: Ray Palmer, for no other reason than a gut-instinct, has created a device that fixes memories of those who have had their minds rewritten. It is such a ridiculously convenient and absurd narrative fix that I have to believe the writers know that. And so, I will let it go, because it allows the series to move on with the excitement — that being, the Legends versus the Legion. These fixes also allow the Legends to keep traveling to interesting points in history, interacting with real life historical figures like Albert Einstein, George Washington and even George Lucas. Most recently, J.R.R. Tolkien got in on the fun.
Of course, I could be giving the writers too much credit, and they have just written themselves into binds that cannot be fixed without an easy reality-correcting mind gun. But even still, it matters little to me, when the result is so wonderfully campy. And regardless, Legends of Tomorrow's sophomore outing has corrected the first season's greatest flaw — the villains.
The Legion of Doom
Before we continue, I'll be frank and say that I am obviously a huge fan of comic book television shows. You have to be to watch as many of the shows as I do — every single one mentioned in this article. But I think whether you are a fan of comic books or not, if you watched season one of Legends of Tomorrow, you would have a problem with the main villain, Vandal Savage.
In the comics, Vandal Savage is a menacing, dangerous and immortal villain, strong enough to take on the Justice League. In Legends of Tomorrow, he came off as boring and one dimensional, and was more of a McGuffin than anything else. He was still immortal, and obviously dangerous, but the portrayal was so flat that I almost preferred the episodes that did not feature him — and for the most part I am not a fan of one-off episodes that feature villains of the week.
As for the Legion of Doom, every scene is better when it includes Eobard Thawne, Damien Darhk, Malcolm Merlyn and Leonard Snart. What Legends of Tomorrow has done, quite beautifully, is take some of the stronger villains from the other Arrowverse shows, and plopped them together — and it really works. For instance, even though season four of Arrow was not the series's best outing, Neal McDonough's Damien Darhk stole every scene he was in.
Eobard Thawne is another interesting character because he has been portrayed by two actors. For most of season one of The Flash, he was played by Tom Cavanagh, who also plays Harrison Wells, and is great. In season two, three and, of course, in Legends of Tomorrow, Thawne is played by Matt Letscher, who has just killed it. Letscher's Thawne is everything that Vandal Savage was not. He is brilliant, cunning and has a clear goal in mind, one that we all can understand — survival.
You can still watch
While I may have trouble convincing you to watch Legends of Tomorrow if you do not partake in the other Arrowverse series, if you do, yet still do not watch, you really should. Not only does it add to the experience of the other series, in that they are all clearly referenced, but it is really just an enjoyable hour of television.
And if you decide that it is time to catch Legends of Tomorrow, you easily can, because the entire second season will be dropping on Netflix just over a week after its April 4 finale. While I cannot promise that you will embrace the series's convoluted time travel and reality warping plot like I have, I am confident in my belief that Legends of Tomorrow is worthy of a comic fan's time.
Between exciting action scenes, an interesting exploration of historical events and, of course, the Legion of Doom, Legends of Tomorrow is a series that, while you may not be currently, you probably should start watching.
Legends of Tomorrow's season two finale airs Tuesday, April 4 at 8 p.m. Eastern on the CW.
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