Saturday, May 23, 2015

Previewing 'DC's Legends of Tomorrow'

It's safe to say many DC Comics fans assumed the new CW superhero TV series wouldn't just be an "Arrow" or "The Flash" spin-off; it also would feature Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer aka The Atom.

In the last two seasons of "Arrow," it seemed DC Entertainment was forming its own Justice League on The CW.

Guess what?!? Those insightful fans who made those predictions — including yours truly — were right. Well, at least partially. (More on that later.)

This brings me to the 2016 series "DC's Legends of Tomorrow."

DCE recently revealed a nearly 4-minute preview of "Legends." OK, it was nearly a week-plus ago, but this full-time newspaper reporter was swamped. It's tough enough to crank out all my NORWALK REFLECTOR assignments in 40 hours, much less find time to do more writing for Cary's Comics Craze.

If you haven't seen the "Legends" trailer yet, go ahead and do it. Now. I'll wait — just make sure you come back. … Pretty sweet, huh? It's worth a couple back-to-back viewings IMHO.

Now that brings me back to the concept and CCC's take on "DC's Legends of Tomorrow."

Indeed, "Legends is the CW/small-screen version of the Justice League; DCE just isn't calling it that. (Probably related to legal issues surrounding the upcoming "Justice League" films, but that's just pure educated speculation.)

The name "Legends" comes from the promise that each hero and villain will be a legend years from now. In addition, the full title allows The CW to have the liberty for its own Justice League — without ever calling the "disparate" team just that.

From the opening moments of the trailer, the footage clearly establishes that "Legends" has its roots based in "Arrow" and "The Flash." Oliver Queen, over footage from "Arrow," says he planned to bring righteousness to Starling City, but circumstances led to what he Arrowheads (a nickname I now officially give to "Arrow" followers; I love it — if I do say so myself!) affectionately call Team Arrow.

Soon after some scenes from "The Flash," Queen/Arrow and the Scarlet Speedster have gathered the "Legends" group on a rooftop to tackle their assignment of stopping the immortal warrior Vandal Savage (a poor man's Ra's al Ghul, as far as I'm concerned).

Who's on the team?: White Canary (played by Caity Lotz whose Sara Lance/the original Canary was killed off in the opening moments of the just completed Season 3 of "Arrow"), Atom, Firestorm (well, at least Professor Stein at this point), a new heroine "with a history of past selves," Hawkgirl (Ciara Renee) and two Flash villains, the ying-and-yang brothers known as Captain Cold and Heatwave.

Rip Hunter joins the group to inform them he's a member of the Time Masters, "an organization charged with protecting time itself." "Savage's evil spans the course of history, so we will have to trek through time to stop him," Hunter says.

DCE, take a bow. You've come up with a brilliant concept. "Legends" is a way to use any of the characters almost any way they choose. After all, since time travel is involved, there are almost no storytelling rules. The "Legends" team will spend a lot of its time rectifying or stopping the havoc Savage has planned. The only limitation is the creative team's imagination.

It's possible we could see members of Teams Arrow and/or Flash guest-star and team up with someone from the "Legends" team. I highly doubt Arrow or The Flash will be series regulars, but I assume they'll drop in from time to time (pardon the unintended pun. Obviously, The Flash will be in the pilot, where no doubt most of the action originates in the trailer.

The beauty of using time travel as a storytelling device is continuity and death are of no concern.

The "Legends" writers don't have to be tied down by continuity. For example, it doesn't matter what Barry Allen is facing in recent episodes of "The Flash;" Hunter, being a time-traveler can grab the Scarlet Speedster for his latest "Legends" mission if the need arises and the time frame in "The Flash" is no worse for the wear. Given the Reverse-Flash's intended hijinx and what Allen accomplished in order to defeat him in the killer season finale, the time-travel concept is a good fir anyway.

As I said, death isn't an issue for the "Legends" series. (As if that we were ever a problem that couldn't be fixed in comic book stories or the cape and cowl crowd in the first place!) Let's say the writers want to use a character who already met his or her maker in "The Flash" or "Arrow," such as Deadshot in the memorable Suicide Squad/Diggles marriage episode. No problem -- it's time travel, remember!

This leads me (finally!) to explaining the presence of Lotz's Sara Lance, now known as White Canary. It appears Lance was the beneficiary of a dip in Ras' al Ghul's Lazarus Pit, given her sexy pool backshot in the trailer.

And with a name like White Canary, there's no doubt the former member of the League of Assassins is on the road to redemption. Expect to see this subplot explored even further than it was in Season 2 of "Arrow."
This White Canary collage courtesy of  iliketeev.blogspot.com.

I had assumed "Arrow" had jumped the superhero shark about six episodes from the finale when it appeared Queen was about to accept Ra's ugly and manipulative offer to be the next Demon's Head. At that point I guessed the show would change formats into a team-up show. The expansion of Team Arrow, after all, led the expansion of the DC TV universe -- and many of Season 3's most memorable episodes.

Once Palmer's character was introduced -- followed by the creation of his Iron Man/Ant-Man-like Atom suit -- it certainly seemed like there was a strong possibility the CW crew was gearing up for a solo Atom series, just as had been done with "The Flash." Instead of either of those ideas, it's a combination of them both since Palmer/Atom will be a regular cast member on "Legends." (And how cool was it to finally see Atom finally shrink in the closing seconds of the trailer? In the meantime, Palmer possibly spoiled how he survived the explosion in his lab in the Season 3 finale of "Arrow," but dem's da breaks!) 

In the end, DCE is letting us fans have our superhero cake and eat it too. We're getting more of the Atom (as many, many, fans expected) and more cool team-ups -- something that really added a kick in the pants to "Arrow," which sometimes fizzled for a good portion of the middle of Season 3.

There will be more collaborations to come, too. Legends is the BRAVE AND THE BOLD of DCE's TV universe and a mini-Justice League -- all in one. But with a brilliantly flexible time-travel twist.

Bravo, DCE. Bravo indeed!

Grade (based on the potential for the creative success of "DC's Legends of Tomorrow"): A

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