The concept alone is strange enough — characters from the DC Universe band together to defeat an immortal mass murderer and save the future — but the execution of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is even worse. First, it is clearly a show aimed solely at fans of the CW’s other DC programs. The characters — minor figures in Arrow and The Flash — receive virtually no background in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’s pilot episode. Thus, the only way of knowing who they are or why they are of any importance is to watch a hundred episodes of previously aired television.
Perhaps viewers would be able to overcome this crippling flaw if the characters were interesting enough to spark further research. However, the “Legends” chosen for the show are truly the dullest possible contenders. Captain Cold and Heatwave — a campy pair of supervillains from The Flash — are some of the most irritating characters to resurface in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Two other characters, Hawkgirl and Hawkman, have only previously appeared in a crossover episode of Arrow and The Flash, and therefore have almost no established fan base or foundational history. As a result, they add no depth to the overall plot, and the audience remains unengaged by their storyline. Even the show’s main villain, Vandal Savage, is largely absent. The only semi-interesting role is Ray Palmer (a.k.a. The Atom) and our interest in him stems more from Brandon Routh’s dreamy brown eyes than from the complexity of his character.
Further, the introduction of Rip Hunter is a terrible — and bafflingly avoidable — failure. Hunter is a “Time Master” gone rogue, a hero in a long coat and stolen time machine attempting to save his family from dying in an apocalypse 150 years in the future. The similarities to the plot of Doctor Who are already a little distracting, but Arthur Darvill — Rory Williams from seasons five through seven of Doctor Who — plays the part of Rip Hunter and consequently makes the show entirely ridiculous. Though “Time Master” bears a striking resemblance to “Time Lord,” the connections might be ignored had it not been for the terrible casting. True, Darvill is a passable actor — probably the best in the show, in fact — but it is impossible to separate him from his most famous role to date. The producers should have taken this attachment into account before taking him onto the show.
Even for the CW’s standards, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is extremely cheesy. Certainly, Arrow and The Flash are far from quality television programs, but they are suspenseful and enjoyable enough for viewers that they are willing to overlook some tackiness. DC’s Legends of Tomorrow does not have the same effect. The episodes provide absolutely no motivation to follow the series — a judgment that remains true even in the fourth and fifth weeks of its run. The show has too many main characters to provide a strong protagonist; Rip Hunter, likely the intended frontrunner, has not had any development beyond the story of his family’s deaths. Flatness pervades the entire show. The purpose of bringing such static characters together should have been to focus on them individually and cultivate their well-rounded, dynamic personalities. Yet they remain as minor as they were in their original shows.
Because the characters are so unsatisfying, the audience seeks an interesting plot, but it proves equally as disappointing. The circumstances surrounding Hawkgirl, Hawkman and Vandal Savaget are simply confusing, and the countless flashbacks to Ancient Egypt offer little explanation. Rip Hunter barks constantly about the importance of maintaining the timeline, but does almost nothing to enforce it or fix the mistakes his team has made. The years and locations the team visits seem like attempts to promote the costume department, but little more, as they have no discernable effect on the storyline. Viewers of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow have nothing to hold onto; neither the characters nor the plot ever seems to progress.
Perhaps this progression will take place later in the season, but by then it may be too late. Even viewers who keep watching out of dedication to Arrow or The Flash are quickly losing interest in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, thanks to its sore lack of interesting characters and plot points. With more thorough development and a more well explained plot, the show could gain the same viewership as the CW’s other programs — fans of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’s predecessors truly want it to be good. On occasion, a riotous fight scene or sharp one-liner gives the show hope for a better fate, but then Captain Cold makes another ice-related pun and once more leaves dedicated fans out in the cold.