by Joni Blyth
It’s funny how closely Legends of Tomorrow’s journey to find a place in the DC TV Universe mirrors that of its characters. Back in season one, the ‘legends’ were assembled by Arthur Darvill’s dashing Rip Hunter as the best of the best, brought together to face a deadly foe. It very quickly transpired that the titular heroes were less legendary, and more expendable – chosen as they didn’t have a place in their own time, and were less likely to call miscellaneous timey-wimey problems when they inevitably never made it home.
Legends of Tomorrow was pitched as the crowning glory of the Arrowverse, where the best and brightest of Flash and Arrow’s back catalogue were being brought together in the ultimate crossover. That’s the pitch, but beneath this fanboy-pleasing veneer was the cold hard reality of capitalism, as Legends filled the midseason gap for its sister shows to keep the ratings ticking over, and the cash rolling in. This spin-off also presented an opportunity for showrunner Greg Berlanti to tidy up any narrative loose ends, and find a home for characters who didn’t fit into their original shows; former love interests, semi-reformed villains, overpowered plotbreakers, just chuck them into the space-time continuum and see what happens.
Season one of Legends was a misfire on all counts, as the show struggled to fit into the larger canon, just as its characters wrestled with their place in the universe. Thankfully, both the show and its eponymous legends have found their niche in this second season, ditching awkward plotlines and irritating characters and settling into a lighter tone.
Vandal Savage was one of the first season’s low points; Casper Crump failed to make an impression with his mustache-twirling performance, and his weird love quadrangle with Hawkgirl, Hawkman and Brandon Routh’s eternally lovelorn Ray Palmer. Thankfully, season two ditches the hokey hawk heroes and replaces them with Maisie Richardson Sellers’ Vixen and Nate Zano’s Steel, whose romantic subplot is a slight improvement, if still fairly dull. Vixen and Steel both make for fine additions to the team, but the season’s masterstroke is replacing Savage with the long-awaited Legion of Doom. Neal McDonough, John Barrowman and Matt Letscher steal every scene together with their sniping and in-fighting, as they set about chasing the latest Legends’ macguffin, the spear of destiny.
Like with many of these shows, the season-long arc is fine for holding episodes together, but it’s not what we’re here for, and Legends knows when to put it on the backburner to explore deeper character beats, like Rip Hunter’s foray to the dark side, or high-concept sci-fi shenanigans, like convincing George Lucas to stay in film school so that the world doesn’t end. This is the stuff that Legends is perfect for, and this second season has a lighter, fluffy tone that is easy to dip into and enjoy without swotting up on 10+ seasons of DC TV lore.
Legends of Tomorrow still hasn’t worked out all the kinks – while the team dynamics are nicely settled, the show hasn’t quite worked out how to use every character effectively, and the CGI budget continues to strain under the weight of flashy ambition. Despite these ongoing issues, by putting fun first, Legends is easily the most entertaining show in the Arrowverse right now, and season three is already looking like must-see TV.
Created by: Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, Andrew Kreisberg and Phil Klemmer
Prd: Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, Andrew Kreisberg and Phil Klemmer
Cast: Caity Lotz, Arthur Darvill, Victor Garbor, Franz Drameh, Brandon Routh, Dominic Purcell, Maisie Richardson-Sellers, Nick Zano, Neal McDonaugh, Matt Letscher, John Barrowman and Wentworth Miller.
Episode Runtime: 42mins
No. of Episodes: 17
Season Two of Legends of Tomorrow is available on DVD now.