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Subj: CW's DC's Legends of Tomorrow - Season 1 thoughts (edited)
Posted: Sat Jan 04, 2020 at 06:48:33 pm EST (Viewed 273 times)
I never could get into CW's Arrowverse shows. They spend so much of their time on melodrama and soap opera plots which might be fine if done well, but they are rarely done well. But it's a channel aimed at teens so I guess it's just not for me. I tuned back in for the Crisis event and for some reason I was sort of drawn by how they remixed and mangled comic characters for the small screen. I figured I'd get maximum character mangling on Legends of Tomorrow so I looked it up on Netflix. I can't say it was a good show, but it kept me entertained. I couldn't make it past a couple of episodes of the other shows, but I binged the whole first season of Legends and will try season 2 pretty soon.
I remember when the ad for this show came out. Rip Hunter comes from the future to assemble DC's greatest heroes to stop an impending disaster. My thought was wow, sounds like he needed the Justice League but they were all tied up with movie deals so they had to get a grab-bag of D-listers. It's nice to see that they actually justified it in the story, that Rip intentionally selected heroes of no consequence so if they die in the attempt it won't have much impact on the timeline. Most people have probably forgotten that Rip in the comics was once part of a team dubbed the Forgotten Heroes which was also a grab-bag of D-Listers (Dolphin, Dane "Sea Devils" Dorrance, Cave Carson, Atomic Knight, etc.) and their mission was to stop Vandal Savage. Is it too much to hope the showrunners knew this?
Rip comes from a council of Time Masters in the distant future that looks like Doctor Who's Time Lords. They later said they operate from Vanishing Point so I guess they're a version of the Linear Men from the comics? Still seems odd. Wasn't Rip from the present in the comics? I never read the 80s Time Masters comic so I don't know if this draws from that at all. But the point of this story is that in the future, Vandal Savage kills Rip's family in 2166 and so Rip wants to prevent Savage's rise to power and save his family. If Rip operates from the Vanishing Point outside of time, why is his family living in 2166 at all? It also seemed odd to me Rip, instead of looking like a scientist, looks like Constantine. They had to say he fell in love with the old west while on assignment so he wears a duster and carries a six-shooter.
I liked that they had a season-long quest in front of them, it could add an urgency to the proceedings and I'm glad it didn't stretch beyond the season and become tiresome.
So Vandal Savage is the big bad. I didn't see how he was established on Arrow or Flash or whatever. Here he's had his history truncated and merged with the Hawkman mythos. Instead of being a caveman from 50,000 BC he's Hath-Set from Egypt, 1700 BC. That doesn't give him as much time to get ahead. Shiera Hall nee Sanders is dropped entirely, apparently Kendra Saunders was the reincarnation in the 1940s and in Egypt. Every reincarnation looks the same in this version which makes them a lot easier to spot. In the comics the Egyptian magic that gave Khufu and Chay-ara flight medallions was replaced with a crashed Thanagarian spaceship full of Nth metal. Here it's replaced with the meteor that evolved Savage in the comics. Which is later revealed to be from Thanagar and full of technology for some reason? What is this, Starship Troopers, where aliens wage war by chucking giant rocks through space? I guess the Geoff Johns rewrite in the comics had already combined the Hawks with Savage's foe the Immortal Man by making them reincarnate throughout history. So now Savage gets merged with their foe Hath-Set. What they don't explain is why they get different powers. Savage is unkillable and ageless, whereas Carter and Kendra can age and die but be reborn. The Hawks also got their Zero Hour power of growing wings out of their backs which I thought everyone hated. I don't know if the Hawks were established on one of the other shows, it seems like we are supposed to know them already. The guy playing Carter wasn't that good, I didn't mind when he got killed off early.
Not sure about Kendra, she spent so much time stuck in a will-they-or-won't-they with Atom Ray Palmer. This is what I mean, you can have some soap opera but there is no tension in this one because they don't avoid talking about their feelings and let tension build. They talk endlessly, then get together, then break up, then get together, then break up. You never get a chance to root for them. Speaking of Ray, is there any particular reason his ex Jean Loring was renamed Anna Loring on this show? If she shows up later as Eclipso, don't spoil it for me!
Ray is a bit more squeaky clean than the comic version, I guess they wanted a contrast with the rogues. It's mostly played for laughs like everything in this show. Especially at the end of the season when he's a getaway driver for Mick who murders a man in cold blood and Ray just says hey man, let's team up and be best buds! He really has blinders on. I don't know if Ray ever reversed his powers and grew instead of shrank (Ant-Man could do that, right?) I assume the giant robot he fights late in the season was named Leviathan after the Zero Hour reboot name for Legionnaire Colossal Boy (Leviathan was a better name than Micro Lad).
Snart and Rory were simultaneously the cheesiest and best parts of the season. They seemed to be the only ones who knew what a silly show they were on and hammed it up the max. Although Snart's slow face turn worked fairly well. I was surprised at the end when he mentioned getting together with Sara, I had not sensed any romantic connection or hint between them before.
As for Chronos, it was in fine CW fashion a recycling of a comic name with no other resemblance to the character. Comic Chronos was like a low-level bank robber, not an agent of the Time Lords, and a foe of the Atom if I'm not mistaken. When he gets replaced later by a trio of time-assassins, I was hoping they were his comic cohorts Time Commander, Clock King, and Calendar Man. But I don't think they were named. So Rory betrays the Legends, even his "brother" Snart, then spends "lifetimes" at Vanishing Point getting reprogrammed into Chronos, only hanging on to his identity due to his hatred of the Legends, but then teams up with them again after a couple of episodes? I guess his Chronos training makes him a little nicer which is odd since the Time Masters are actually kind of evil.
Sara Lance I knew nothing about, I assume she's a character made up for the Arrowverse? Or maybe she's New 52, I'm not up on the newer versions. The comics had Dinah Lance and Dinah Laurel Lance who were mother and daughter. This series has Dinah, Laurel and Sarah as 3 sisters? Do any of them have the Canary Cry? Sara was trained by the League of Assassins and I hear mentions of Talia and Nyssa, are they all just female super ninjas? She is maybe the best actor on the show but she's still on Legends of Tomorrow, so ...
I missed Firestorm's debut on Flash (going back to watch them now), I see they jumped from Ronnie to Jefferson. I assumed Jefferson was a version of Jason Rusch, the second Firestorm from the comics who was also black, and I was trying to figure out why they changed his name. But in the comics Jason merged with Ronnie who was now the elder mentor. It makes sense here to keep Stein as the big brain. Some searching shows that Jason Rusch did show up in the Arrowverse (once) but came to nothing. Jefferson Jackson was actually the name of a classmate of Ronnie's from Ronnie's comic and I still wonder why they used his name. Jax is a decent character. Stein is really goofy but not in as fun of a way as Cold and Heatwave. Too pompous and foppish at times. And why is he an expert on time-travel and multiverses anyway?
So that's the cast. Rip is always explaining the limits of time travel, what they can change and what they can't. But they seem to break that whevener needed. He says they only get one shot at changing things which is why they can't keep retrying until they get it right, because you can't revisit a time and place that you've already been before. Yet the conclusion of the season has them do exactly that, when they track Vandal back to three periods they visited earlier in the season and risk running into themselves. Part of the fun of making rules in fiction is breaking them, like the Ghostbusters crossing the streams, but you should make it a big deal. See the universe start unravelling or something. But there's no consequence here.
I did read through all the posts in this board from when this season came out. Many of the same critiques. Another is that they have some chances to kill Vandal that they don't take. None worse than towards the end when they confront him in 2166 and Kendra has him dead to rights with her enchanted mace and doesn't do the deed because he had brainwashed Carter and was the only one who could free his mind. First, who cares, Carter can live out his life and die and be reincarnated so it doesn't matter. Secondly, Carter and Kendra's whole gimmick was remembering past lives and hidden memories so if anyone can recover his memories, it's Carter. And he does, in the next episode. So it makes Kendra look really dumb.
It should be noted that the Legends achieve no victory at the end of the season. Their whole goal is to stop Vandal from taking over the world and saving Rip's family, neither of which they did. But in the attempt, they did make Vandal aware of time travel and he almost made history even worse by taking over in 1700 BC instead of 2166 AD. So they stopped that from happening, and that was their victory. And the Time Masters claim that they brought Vandal to power because he was the only one who could stop an even worse invasion of Thanagarians so by killing Vandal, have the Legends actually doomed the future? They may go down in history as legendary failures.
Cameos: the best was probably Jonah Hex. He was a little less surly than the comic version but I liked how unaffected he was by time travel. In the comics he did at one point get dropped into a Mad Max-like future and then came back again, and I don't think they ever explained the time travel mechanism. But having him back in the old west with future knowledge seemed appropriate. Ra's al Ghul was a little too easy to deal with. I assume those were Man-Hawks they ran into in the 50s. I don't know much about the comic version other than the name, I guess they are from Thanagar and menace that version of Hawkman? Well here they spawn from Thanagarian meteor tech on Earth. Per Degaton, I always liked his appearances in the comics but this version doesn't use much but the name. In the comics he's an adult from the 1940s who builds a time machine, or steals Professor Zee's, I don't remember, and plagues the JSA. Here he's a child of the 2140s who will one day grow up to be the next Hitler, we're told. Another of the Legends' failures, since they try to reform him but fail, I guess? I would have liked to see him end up back in a lab cleaning test tubes, the way his comic adventures always ended.
EDIT: And I forgot about one-armed Old Man Ollie and Connor Hawke. Ollie was a good reference. Weird that Connor Hawke was just a codename for John Diggle Jr.? That's a weird codename if you're trying to hide your real name. Also, I thought that looked like Sgt. Rock's helmet but that kid looked too scrawny to be the grizzled vet Frank Rock.
The cliffhanger ending has everyone return home to 2016 only for Rex Tyler of the JSA to pop up with a warning. Kind of an obscure member of that team but he is named after a unit of time, and has some time-travel related stories in his legacy. They probably wouldn't touch on any of that, though.
All in all it was much ado about nothing. I found in fun in a crash-tv kinda way.
My only lingering question, I went back to watch S1 Flash's Firestorm episodes. Evil Wells (actually Reverse-Flash Thawne, right?) has a secret time-vault with an AI called Gideon. Is that any relation to Rip's Gideon AI on the Waverider? The voice sounded the same.
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