DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is the Arrowverse’s most unique show that’s for sure. It’s particular blend of heroes, villains, anti-heroes, ex-cons, time travelers from both future and past and whatnot, make Legends of Tomorrow a one-of-a-kind superhero show. Originally imagined as the Atom spin-off, the concept for this show evolved into a space opera of sorts, which worked out surprisingly well. Although, Legends of Tomorrow got off to a rocky start, it made much-needed corrections in season two. By getting rid of what didn’t work in the first season — the Hawks and Vandal Savage — and focusing on what did like the humor and the ensemble cast, Legends of Tomorrow might have already become the best Arrowverse show.
But, nothing is ever perfect. While Legends of Tomorrow did improve considerably since season one, there are still some issues that could stand in the way of it being the best the Arrowverse has to offer. As is often pointed out, at times it feels as if characters like Ray inexplicably lose 50 IQ points in critical situations just for the purpose of dragging out the plot. Still, this crazy time travel adventure has a lot to offer. But, could it be the best Arrowverse show? Let’s find out.
15. WHY IT’S THE BEST: SHORTER LENGTH
Unlike the other three Arrowverse shows, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow doesn’t have the typical format. While Arrow, The Flash and Supergirl go for the standard 22 to 24 episode count per season, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow has a slightly shorter run. The first season consisted of merely 16 episodes, while the third season is supposed to end with episode 18.
We are never happy to see one of our favorite shows finish the season early, but this format has proven successful for Legends. And precisely because there are fewer episodes to work with, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow has less filler. Sure, it doesn’t come even remotely close to the ten-hour movies Marvel’s streaming on Netflix, but it still manages to avoid unnecessary storylines we often encounter in other Arrowverse shows.
14. WHY IT ISN’T: NO CONSISTENT CAST OF CHARACTERS
Having a rotating cast is always a double-edged sword. While it does allow the creators to introduce a larger number of characters, it can be frustrating for the fans when their favorite character just disappears. By the end of season one, we had to say goodbye to the fan favorite Captain Cold, as well as the dreaded Hawks, and to some extent Rip Hunter.
The second season introduced us to new team members, Amaya and Nate. The trend continued in the show’s third season with the introduction of Zari and the departure of Jax and Stein. And as season three nears its end we’re feeling a bit on edge, worried who might be the next one to go. At this point we’re strongly attached to these characters and would really hate to see any one of them abandon ship.
13. WHY IT’S THE BEST: THE VILLAINS
Vandal Savage aside, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow knows how to do villains right. After the much-needed course correction following the lackluster first season, Legends of Tomorrow’s villains have been extraordinary. The second season saw the Legends face the Legion of Doom. The nefarious band of villains composed of Reverse-Flash, Malcolm Merlyn and Damien Darhk. Legends of Tomorrow not only made good use of these three iconic bad guys, it also introduced some improvements.
On top of that, Damien Darhk has turned into a looming dark presence on the show and he’s a big part of season three as well. The third season’s big bad Mallus is constantly proving himself to be a force to be reckoned with and even the minor villains and the so-called freaks of the week are surprisingly compelling.
12. WHY IT ISN’T: SMART PEOPLE, STUPID DECISIONS
We can all agree that much of the mess the Legends find themselves in could be avoided if only they would act in accordance with their better judgment. Legends are comprised of some pretty smart, if not brilliant, people — Dr. Martin Stein, Dr. Ray Palmer, Dr. Nate Heywood, and mechanical prodigy Jefferson Jackson. Yet, they somehow manage to make incredibly stupid decisions that go against reason, logic and most of all self-preservation.
Almost every single episode, the two members who’re supposed to be the smartest ones on the team — Ray and Nate — make very questionable, if not downright idiotic decisions. And while we’re willing to ignore this convenient stupidity for the most part, at times it gets overwhelmingly frustrating. To say that the writers on this show abuse the “Idiot Ball” trope would be a gross understatement.
11. WHY IT’S THE BEST: DOESN’T TAKE ITSELF TOO SERIOUSLY
The Arrowverse as a whole isn’t overly dark and gritty like, say, the Marvel Netflix shows. Greg Berlanti has always made it a point to tell stories about these superheroes in a lighthearted fashion. And the show that best embodies this lightheartedness is DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.
Just look at some of the stuff this group of outcasts has done over the past three years. They met a young George Lucas, got stranded in Feudal Japan, formed an alliance with J.R.R. Tolkien during World War I, and introduced the Vikings to the god Beebo, just to name a few. This show knows how to do humor and how to balance it with the more serious moments. No other show in the Arrowverse does this better.
10. WHY IT ISN’T: THE LEGENDS DON’T USE THEIR FULL RESOURCES
Fine, we’ll admit that this is a cheap shot, but that doesn’t change the fact that it needs to be said. The Atom and Firestorm must be the most underutilized Legends on the team, despite the fact that they are quite possibly the most powerful. Still, rarely do we see Ray go subatomic. Now, this most definitely comes down to budget issues, which is not surprising given that this is a TV show and not a big budget movie.
It must cost tons of money to make this show as it is and including more pricey shots of characters like the Atom is simply not an option. That being said, we can’t help but feel a bit disappointed and at times even cheated. There are situations that instinctively makes us wonder ‘but why not use the Atom’ and then go ‘oh, right,’ begrudgingly accepting the harsh reality.
9. WHY IT’S THE BEST: DIVERSITY AND REPRESENTATION
The Arrowverse as a whole is a wonderful example of how television can — and should — be used to support and showcase diversity. DC’s Legends of Tomorrow specifically has the most diverse cast of characters of all the Arrowverse shows. The writers made sure that everyone feels represented on Legends of Tomorrow.
The Legends’ team leader is the fiercest female hero, who also happens to be bisexual. The Earth-X Leonard Snart was a gay man in a happy and adorable relationship with The Ray. But that’s not all. This show has men and women of color equally represented as well. Or how about the fact that Legends of Tomorrow is the first television series to feature a Muslim superhero? With every passing season, Legends of Tomorrow expands its cast and brings more diverse characters on board, which just makes us love this show more.
8. WHY IT ISN’T: NO REAL REPERCUSSIONS OF TIME TRAVEL
Even though, Legends make mistakes — more often than not — there don’t seem to be any lasting repercussions for their actions. Just rewind to the end of season two and start of season three and you’ll see what we mean. In the season two finale the Legends accidentally dispersed dinosaurs throughout the timeline, yet this had no real ramifications.
Not only was this “minor” setback dealt with promptly, it literally had no impact on the rest of the Arrowverse. But that does seem to be the norm. None of the Legends’ actions tend to have lasting consequences. And we’re finding it hard to care about the outcome of a situation knowing that it can easily be fixed with little to no collateral damage. Not to mention that all of the shenanigans that Legends get themselves into should by all means affect the entire Arrowverse, yet this is never shown.
7. WHY IT’S THE BEST: ROMANCE SUBPLOTS ARE INDEED SUBPLOTS
With the exception of the gravely misguided season one, Legends of Tomorrow is a show that knows how to do romance in a superhero show without turning into a soap opera. We’re looking at you, Arrow.
No one likes melodrama, especially in a show that’s supposed to be about costumed superheroes fighting crime, supervillains and just about anything that comes their way. Arrow lost sight of what it is and became an unbearable melodramatic mess of a show about unhealthy relationships. The Flash’s “we are The Flash” nonsense turned an already forced romance subplot into an agonizing cliché that’s slowly killing the show. In the midst of all that, it’s refreshing to see Legends of Tomorrow deal with romance and relationships in a mature way. While romance abounds on Legends, it’s never the focus of the story. Nor should it be.
6. WHY IT ISN’T: NOT BASED ON AN ACTUAL COMIC BOOK
Unlike The Flash, Arrow and Supergirl, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow do not have a direct source in the comics. In 2016, DC Comics did run a limited series under the same title, but there isn’t a continuous comic book series like Green Arrow or The Flash about this particular team. Now, this does not have to be a flaw in and of itself, however, it does mean that there is no direct source for the Legends of Tomorrow to draw from.
Still, with the goofy set-up, the unbelievable cast of characters and the outrageous plotlines, Legends of Tomorrow feels more like a comic book than any other Arrowverse show. They borrow characters, they borrow storylines, they borrow real-life events and history, and thus far, it’s worked surprisingly well. However, the question remains, how long can they keep it up?
5. WHY IT’S THE BEST: KNOWS HOW TO DO HEARTFELT MOMENTS
Alright, this is a show that featured a rat funeral in the midst of the seemingly incessant struggle against the demonic entity known as Mallus. And while the funeral scene certainly was intended to coax some laughs out of the audience, it also showed us how Legends of Tomorrow can make something like a rat funeral feel heartwarming and kind of moving. That’s the wonder of this show.
One moment these silly goofs are fighting a freaking demon and the next they’re having a heartfelt conversation about love, friendship, family, and so much more. One of the most heartbreaking moments was the death of Leonard Snart. The desolation his team members felt in the aftermath was palpable and we felt it too. Legends of Tomorrow is a show that knows how to make its audience feel what its characters are feeling.
4. WHY IT ISN’T: SPECIAL EFFECTS ARE NOT ALWAYS THE BEST
Let the record show that we hate having to complain about special effects. It basically translates to “you should have spent more money,” when we all know full well that that wasn’t an option. That being said, sometimes our job is to nitpick and that’s exactly what we have to do here.
As expected, characters like Firestorm don’t exactly look their best on a TV budget. But that’s not to say that the special effects are always terrible on this show, far from it actually. However, at times it’s obvious that the CW wasn’t able to produce the show to the best of its abilities due to lack of money. Most of the time, these poorly handled special effects can be ignored for the sake of overall enjoyment. Other times, the cringe is just too strong.
3. WHY IT’S THE BEST: EVERY EPISODE AND EVERY SEASON IS DIFFERENT
One of the many benefits of time travel stories is the ability to go literally anywhere and anywhen. Something that Legends of Tomorrow writers take advantage of every week. Over the course of three seasons, the Legends have traveled to various time periods and various locations around the globe. On their travels they encounter all kinds of people: friends, foes, historical figures, younger versions of today’s celebrities, and younger versions of themselves and their family members.
Every season has its own story and could very well stand on its own. But it’s not only the seasons that are fresh, it’s the episodes as well. Every new episode takes us somewhere new as we join the Legends in their exploration of this time period, its customs and its people. It’s what makes Legends of Tomorrow such a uniquely entertaining experience.
2. WHY IT ISN’T: NOT EVERYONE GETS THE SAME AMOUNT OF SPOTLIGHT
A large cast of characters, while being advantageous, has its limitations. There’s only so much time in each episode and each season, which means that not all characters will get the same amount of spotlight. In an ensemble cast with no clear leads, it’s important to give all characters approximately equal exposition, importance and development. Though, in practice this doesn’t come easy.
While characters such as Sara and Ray got a fair amount of spotlight over the course of three seasons, Stein could definitely have used some more screen time. A common complaint is that we never really got to see Stein being a great husband and father, even though this was constantly affirmed by other characters. Perhaps the show could have given us a couple scenes to drive this point home.
1. WHY IT’S THE BEST: IT CAN BE SILLY WITHOUT LOOKING STUPID
“Beebo the God of War” is a classic example of how Legends of Tomorrow can take something truly terrifying as the Vikings and something completely ridiculous as Beebo and somehow mix the two in one epic episode of boundless fun. Legends of Tomorrow is not a show that is afraid to be silly. It knows just how silly it is and it embraces the silliness wholeheartedly.
The writers know that the idea of a stuffed, albeit somewhat frightening, toy becoming a Norse God of War is the very definition of absurdity, yet they still managed to make it a thing. This is the show that got us, and the Vikings, to worship Beebo for crying out loud. Was it a silly episode? No doubt about it. But not in a way that makes us cringe.
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