DC’s Legends of Tomorrow: A Eulogy for the Best Show of the Arrowverse

Friday should be the start of the weekend, a stress reliever of the week. But just before the April 29 weekend began, the CW finally gave official notice that Legends of Tomorrow would be canceled after seven seasons. It’s a painful cancellation for its devoted fan base, perhaps fueled by an upcoming online sale, which leaves us on a cliffhanger. Looks like a good friend left us.

It was the third or fourth show to join the Arrowverse, depending on whether you consider Supergirl’s CBS season as part of it. Legends of Tomorrow wasn’t supposed to work. It all started with a terrible tone: what if we take a bunch of supporting characters from different shows and turn them into time travelers?

And for the first season, it was true. Like many other shows with devoted fans – Star Trek: The Next Generation and Parks and Recreation come to mind – the show took a while to find its base. Season 1 was overly dramatic, centered around the show’s less likeable characters – Rip Hunter, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and Vandal Savage – and character wrong decisions, unnecessary secrets, and worse yet, a love triangle.

A few episodes of the second season of Legends, however, the adults left the room and then didn’t bother to check out the weird kids for six seasons.

Things immediately went bizarre, with Reverse-Flash / Eobard Thawne migrating from The Flash with his other face, played by Matt Letscher instead of Tom Cavanagh, to antagonize the legends. He was later joined by Arrow villains Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) and Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) to form the Legion of Doom. Throughout the season, the Legends would fight Confederate soldiers, meet Jonah Hex, take part in the first full-size crossover of the Arrowverse, and meet all kinds of historical characters from Al Capone to George Washington. Ray goes to the moon with Thawne, forcing them to work together to return home. The bad guys win and rewrite reality temporarily, creating the first of many alternate timelines the show would explore.

This second season seemed gleefully lightened compared to the first. He made great use of previous bad guys, for example. This is something that both Marvel and DC shows struggle with. Villains tend to be a big villain for a season, get killed off and then go away forever. He is rarely given the opportunity to resurface the way villains do in the original comic book material. Damien Darhk, for example, was a badly written Arrow villain who brought too high a stakes for the show about the man showing spiky colored sticks and his girlfriend hacking things with his iPad. Against a team of time travelers that includes an atomic man, a man the size of an atom, and someone who can summon any animal he wants, though, he’s much better suited. Darhk would come back throughout the show, first as a villain and then as a reluctant anti-hero, redeemed by his daughter and the relentless optimism of the Legends. He developed into a sympathetic character who was the perfect definition of a recurring villain and was given room to change and grow. He is one of my all-time favorite characters in the Arrowverse despite his tough time on Arrow, and it’s all thanks to Legends.

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The show also became absolutely fearless of being silly and in active conversation with its fan base. When a stuffed toy named Beebo inadvertently became an oracle for a gang of Vikings, the fandom clung to him, making him a recurring and fun character. The Season 3 finale saw the legends transform the Voltron style into a giant Beebo and then show his Shaolin style to a demon of time.

Legends has also become metatextual, making fun of himself and television, in a way that brings to mind something like the NBC Community. For example, that time demon, Mallus, is voiced by character actor John Noble. In the episode “Guest Starring John Noble”, they kidnapped John Noble from the set of The Lord of the Rings, where he played Denethor so that they could pretend to be Mallus to try and manipulate an evil character to do, you know, less evil. So they had the actor playing the part of the villain, playing himself in the role of the villain.

Later, the show would run around with parodies and do great parodies of TV genres and other tropes. Sara Lance once told a character that the crew weren’t allowed to talk about the MacGuffins before she had her coffee. MacGuffin is the term used in narrative criticism to refer to the object that everyone is looking for – the Holy Grail, the Allspark, etc. – but that’s not really the point of the story. Parody of Star Trek, Friends and more. But it has always been, always with the intention of telling us something about the characters.

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These characters weren’t static and throwaway jokes became central to the characters as well. Zari, during an episode of the time cycle, learned that hardened thief Mick Rory had a secret talent for writing romance, and that he would later become an important part of her character rather than a silly joke that made fun of someone who tried. feelings and expressed them. During his six seasons with the show, Rory has evolved from a hardened criminal into a loving (albeit very grumpy) father and someone proud to be a part of the Legends team.

It’s hard to write stuff like this, which winks at the audience but doesn’t do it at the expense of the characters, and Legends has cleverly balanced that throughout its run.

Something that would have been a problem for other shows has become a selling point for Legends: a huge, rotating cast. The first season saw the release of three of Waverider’s characters and this started a tradition that would last throughout the show. Each season would see some characters leave the show and others join. This meant that the main crew from the first season dwindled until only Sara Lance remained, but it also brought great characters like John Constantine aboard the team’s time ship.

Actress Maisie Richardson-Sellers joined the show as Amaya Jiwe, and later transitioned to the role of Charlie, a shapeshifter who got stuck in Jiwe form and eventually became likable. Matt Ryan joined as John Constantine, but would later play Gwyn Davies. Tala Ashe played two completely different versions of her character, Zari; one a flannel-wearing hacker and donut lover, and another from an alternate timeline where he was a trendy Kardashian-style media mogul. The show looked after its actors that way, giving them both reasons to stay on the show if they wished, and to show off their acting skills by playing different characters and sporting different looks.

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Even characters who seemed so random and weird at first have become beloved members of the group, such as when a change in the timeline replaced Zari with his brother, the lovely stoner Behrad. The missteps here have been few and far between, with even initially hateful characters like Gary Greene finding a way to fit into the show and become a whole person.

During his run, legends would wrestle with historical anomalies of the time, souls resurrected from hell, aliens and mythological creatures, making sure things never felt like a villain of the week treadmill. While the show had a similar, if not lower, budget than other Arrowverse shows, Legends constantly ended up in new locations and time periods, the production designers and directors never made them feel cheap despite how cheap they probably were in. reality. The show wasn’t overly concerned with realism, but instead understood the fine line between capturing the essence of something and slavishly recreating every detail.

Legends has been so foolish and true to itself throughout its run that it made the other Arrowverse shows look worse in comparison. He wasn’t afraid to transform and take the opportunity to give the cast and characters the space they needed to thrive. It felt like the show was making a joke on the net and in all the other shows. As devastating as it is that the show was canceled, it’s hard not to be thankful that we’ve had seven seasons of this nonsense.

I wish we had met Booster Gold for more than the last half of the Season 7 finale. Donald Faison would have been a perfect fit for the Legends crew. We could have said goodbye to Sara Lance and the Waverider.

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Legends of Tomorrow wasn’t supposed to work, but the writers and cast loved the show so much they wanted it to work. They shaped and chiseled it until the worst parts disappeared to reveal even more stupidity and personality. There are still Arrowverse shows on CW; Flash will get a season 9, Superman and Lois a season 3. But as the CW prepares to sell itself to the highest bidder, it has been trying to shave off the shows that haven’t been as successful. Legends has been slipping under the radar for so long, and it seems like someone has finally checked the books and realized that, somehow, this show was still being filmed and aired on the net.

As Legends of Tomorrow dies, it’s hard not to see it as the beginning of the Arrowvers’ end. And that doesn’t even take into account the fact that it was canceled on the same day as Batwoman, effectively ending both of the network’s LGBTQ-led superhero shows simultaneously. Both Legends and Arrowverse were weird and ambitious experiments that, despite their flaws, performed better than they should have. For those of us who found Legends of Tomorrow, it was a true gift of a show, a gem in the CW crown, and one of the few superhero shows that stood out for offering something other than the overly dramatic and apocalyptic tone of so many. other superhero shows and movies.

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