Legendary Love Letter
Article by Tony Farina
In 2012, when The CW allowed super producer, Greg Berlanti, to make a show about The Green Arrow, simply called Arrow, no one could have predicted that within 10 years, the superhero dreams of every DC Comics fanboy/girl/person everywhere would also eventually come to life. Sure, we had a handful of shows, both animated and live-action, during our lifetimes, but those things were never connected. Each of those shows has its fans and detractors for a variety of reasons and because they were just stand-alone shows, just trying to exist.
Somehow, the little show that could, on the little network that could, started something unique. On the back of the physicality of Stephen Amell, the swagger of David Ramsey and charisma of Emily Bett Rickards, the Arrowverse was born and nothing has been the same since.
As the shows spun off and the A-list heroes and villains kept popping up (remember, they had a whole Suicide Squad, Legion of Doom, and Justice League thing going long before anything happened on the big screen), the question became, what do we do with all these talented actors who took on the roles of the B, C and D listers? The answer arrived in 2016, when DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, the superhero version of the land of misfit toys premiered, and once again, the game was changed.
Season one was jammed with goodness. Heatwave and Captain cold as “good guys?” The Atom AND Firestorm fighting side by side as though it was ripped from the comics. Hawkgirl AND Hawkman were on TV! For Free. Then Rip Hunter was plucked from the silver age to be joined by the, created for TV, White Canary to make a supergroup of crazies who had to travel through time with the help of a talking ship (Gideon from The Flash) to stop one of the biggest DC baddies of all time Vandal Savage.
It was, simply put, a feast for the eyes and an assault on the senses. They leaned into the multiverse before it was cool and, most importantly, they decided not to care too much about explaining it. The rules were simple. Breaking time creates a multiverse. Don’t do that.
It was clear early on that Legends was not going to be like the other shows. Sure, there were a few “very special episodes,” but ultimately, due to the skills of the cast and direction of the writers, LoT became the show that was allowed to be funny. Let’s be honest, the rest of the Arrowverse is serious and/or melodramatic. Sure, each show has a “funny” person and there are always some jokes that land, but they are set up as action/dramas that the adults watch, but the teenagers love. Everyone on the shows is outrageously good-looking and perfect and there's always a love story.
Every single episode of Arrow, Flash, Supergirl, Black Lightning, Batwoman, and Superman & Lois has someone say either, “I’ll go talk to (fill in the blank name of some character who stormed out) OR “Can we talk in the other room?” On Legends, those moments are so few and far between that when they happen, they carry some emotional resonance. Drama interjected into comedy lands much better than the other way around. The jokes don’t land as hard when half of the population of the world has been eliminated.
Additionally, unlike the other shows that had to make a huge deal out of everything, the Legends just accepted things. Bisexual? Fine. Gay? Fine. Interracial relationship? Fine. Human/alien relationship? Fine. Clone on Alien/human hybrid relationship? Fine. Muslim? Fine. Christian? Fine. Warlock? Sure. Come on in. Been a villain but now you are a goodie? Sweet. Are you a toy that may also be a god? That checks out. Want a holiday special? You got it. You’re a woman, no reason you can’t be captain. Nothing mattered and they just didn't make it a thing. It just is. Everyone's just who they are and anyone can be redeemed. Legends of Tomorrow is a love letter to humanity and acceptance of the people considered weirdos and outcasts hidden as a crazy, bananas Superhero action-comedy.
Once they knew what they wanted to do, they just went for it. Sure, they were part of the wider Arrowverse, and they would crossover when needed, but they were going to just do their own thing and they were going to own it. So much so that they simply skipped the Batwoman crossover event and made a joke about ignoring the voicemails sent by the rest of the CW stars. So insanely clever.
For a show that should have the biggest budget behind it, as it is the most sci-fi of them all, it clearly has the smallest... and yet, it doesn’t hold the show back. The budget for most CW shows is minuscule and for LoT, it was seemingly even smaller. The cast and crew decided not to let that bug them. They leaned into it. Bad effects? No problem. We’ll just act our asses off and pretend that fire is real or that those aliens are scary. There are times when viewers can almost feel the actors turning and winking at them. It is in weakness the show finds its strength and it always pays off.
Going into season seven, only one of the original cast members is still standing as a series regular. Caity Lotz stands alone as Sara Lance/White Canary, captain of the Waverider. In most shows, seeing your main cast drift away and their replacements move on, year after year would mean disaster. Not for this show. They always turn every frown upside down.
The casting directors just roll up their sleeves and fix it. There's never been one time where a series regular or recurring star has been bad. They all get the assignment. Show up. Work hard. Have fun. While everyone has been a delight, I would argue that no person has more for Legends than Jes Macallan as Ava Sharpe. Brought in as a member of Rip’s Time Bureau, and nemesis to Sara, she has evolved into Sara’s co-captain and wife. While the character is amazing, it's Macallan’s incredible timing, presence, and charm that lights up the screen in every single frame. Whatever she does going forward, I'll be watching. She's a superstar.
The CW powers that be have not decided yet if season 7 will be the end, but if history's the guide, it will either be this year or next that we will see the end of Legends of Tomorrow. Regardless of when they take their final curtain call, I will be sad that they're gone, but grateful they existed.
I plan on buying a full series collection whenever it comes out because, for all the things I like about the Arrowverse, it's this show, that I simply adore. I raise a glass to you Legends. Thanks for giving us weirdos a home.
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