“Seriously. You idiots haven’t figured this out by now? It all started when we blew up the Time Pigs – the Time Masters. Now history’s all screwed up, and it’s up to us to un-screw it up. But half the time, we screw things up even worse. So don’t call us heroes. We’re something else. We’re Legends. Who writes this crap, anyway?” – Mick

I am not even trying to do it better than Mick.

What is Legends of Tomorrow, but a recycling of a bunch of B- or even C-List characters? The unlikeliest characters are thrown together to save the world. Or at least they think they do. Rip just chose them for two reasons: revenge on Vandal Savage and because they are expendable. Not crucial to the timeline. They don’t matter. That’s a motivational speech right there, isn’t it? However, they overcame the obstacles and became so much more than mere heroes. You might not find their names in history books, but they were there. They mattered, matter, or will matter.

The best thing about Legends of Tomorrow is the cast and the characters: Rip Hunter, White Canary aka Sara Lance, Atom aka Ray Palmer, Firestorm aka Martin Stein and Jefferson Jackson, Captain Cold aka Leonard Snart, Heatwave aka Mick Rory, Vixen aka Amaya Jiwe, Hawkgirl aka Kendra Saunders, Hawkman aka Carter Hall, Steel aka Nate Haywood, and Zori Adrianna Tomaz. Twelve characters are or were the legends. This number is incredible. It’s a huge cast and they still manage to give everyone their moment in every episode.

I mainly want to talk about those characters, so let’s get everything else out of the way:

  • Villains: No big bad villain stood out over the last two years in Legends of Tomorrow. Vandal Savage was boring, and cmplicated relationships with a lot of time jumps didn’t help. The Legion of Doom was much better, because the Reverse Flash, Damien Darhk, and Malcolm Merlyn were excellent on their own. Unfortunately, put together they don’t work that well. I am very thankful that they changed the concept a bit for the new season.
  • Storytelling: The series had its up and downs in the beginning, but by now the writers have figured out how to use their characters wisely. The legends need a case-of-the-week structure mixed with some personal stuff. Add some silliness and don’t make everything serious like in Arrow. In my understanding, Legends of Tomorrow should just be fun to watch.
  • Secret Societies: All the other shows have a lot of them. Legends also had their fair share: Justice Society of America, Time Masters, the Time Bureau, Legion of Doom, etc. But by now they got rid of most of them. I want just one show without such things. And I am thankful that they keep it at a minimum level.

At the beginning of the third season, the team broke time and Rip fired them. Every one of them tries to live a normal life, but they soon have to face the truth: They are not made for an ordinary life (except Stein maybe, but we have to wait and see how that goes). They are a family. They are stuck together. Yes, they do the job differently than others, mess things up more before finding a solution, but it’s their thing. And I love it.

The storytelling of Legends of Tomorrow is not that important. The story should focus on the dynamics between the characters and then it is not that important which story you tell. Unlike in Arrow and The Flash where you have this bigger picture. Legends has that also, but far more in the background. A viewer should be able to watch any episode of the show and have fun.

Don’t get me wrong, I love it when it gets a bit serious, and they push on the emotional stuff. This is important because in those situations we have character development. But then Rory comes around and makes a mean joke. Everyone plays a part in it. Even Gideon, the AI of the Waverider has personality and is a vital part of the team.

As I wrote down every character’s name and alter ego, I realized that their secret identities do not play a part anymore. They are not White Canary or the Atom. Most of the time they use their real names which makes them much more relatable and even more like a messed up family.

To be honest, I am glad that Kendra and Carter are not in the picture anymore. I am not sure if it was just the weird storyline with Vandal Savage or the characters themselves, but I never clicked with them. Amaya is way better and much more interesting. Her calm personality and the way she approaches things is inspiring. On the other hand, Amaya can be a beast if need be. With the aid of her totem, she destroys every opponent. Even when she struggles for control or fears consequences, you believe her. She is authentic.

And that’s the case for all of them. Authenticity. We know those characters from other shows, learned about who they are, why they are doing what they are doing and over time even got to see their pasts. Still, they are not defined by that. Sara died and came back; Rory lost his best friend and partner; Ray lost his company and didn’t know what to do for a long time; Stein was going to die if he hadn’t found Jackson and gave him a purpose; Nate can finally use his cultural knowledge, and I am curious to find out more about Zori.

Everyone has their made mistakes, lost someone, or just didn’t know what to do with their lives. But through Rip, they found each other, and with that, a purpose to push through those traumatic experiences and thrive. As Rip said in the trailer to the first season:

“I’ve seen darker days. I’ve seen men of steel die and dark knights fall and even then, I accomplish my mission no matter what.”

If you had your doubts about Legends of Tomorrow, watch the third season. There is something new to discover every week, and I am curious where the journey goes. But as long as those characters are together, what could possibly go wrong…?

Christoph Staffl
christoph.staffl@gmail.com

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