With the conclusion of the sweeping “Heroes vs. Aliens” crossover on Thursday, it’s finally become clear that “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” isn’t The CW’s “Doctor Who,” as it originally appeared, or even the Justice League. Instead, it turns out the spinoff is the network’s answer to “The Avengers.”
That’s not to say they’re the Arrowverse’s Mightiest Heroes — The Flash and Supergirl still safely hold that title — but their parallels to Marvel’s premier cinematic super-team are difficult to ignore. Bear with us as we make the case for the Legends of Tomorrow as The CW’s answer to Marvel’s Avengers.
Wealthy Inventors Turned High-Tech Heroes
This is a gimme, mind you, as viewers began to draw comparisons between Brandon Routh’s Ray Palmer and Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark from the moment the A.T.O.M. (Advanced Technology Operating Mechanism) Exosuit made its debut in the third season of “Arrow.” Whereas DC Comics’ Ray Palmer originally used the remnants of a white-dwarf star, fashioned into a belt buckle, to trigger his size-altering powers, the television version went full-on Iron Man, with a suit made partly from dwarf star alloy. With it, The Atom possesses enhanced strength, the ability to fly and project energy blasts and even control the Exosuit remotely — pretty much everything in the Iron Man repertoire. Oh, and shrink and increase in size, because he is (at least nominally) The Atom.
Assassins With Troubled Pasts and a Deadly Touch
One’s a former assassin turned superhero, the other is a … former assassin turned superhero. Wait, one was recruited and trained to be a killer by a secret — hmm. One is haunted by her past and delivers beatdowns with batons, the other … OK, let’s try this: One is code-named Black Widow, the other White Canary, so they’re totally different.
Star-Spangled Heroes Whose Abilities Derive From a Secret Formula
Although his “organic steel” form owes much to the X-Men’s Colossus, Citizen Steel’s similarities to Captain America are difficult to ignore. Like the other Legends, Nate Heywood rooted in DC Comics lore (he’s the grandson of World War II-era hero Commander Steel), but in the Arrowverse, his superhuman abilities don’t stem from an encounter with a Neo-Nazi supervillain.
Instead, they’re the result of an experimental biomolecular enhancer at one point even referred to as a “super-serum.” That sounds an awful lot like Steve Rogers’ path to become Marvel’s Sentinel of Liberty. With the debut last week of Citizen Steel’s costume star-spangled ensemble — a cross between his comic-book costume and a Jump Ball uniform from “Starship Troopers” — his transformation is virtually complete.
Animal-Themed Heroes With Powers Tied to African Deities
On the heels of the introduction of Black Panther in Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War,” the Legends this season welcomed their own animal-themed hero whose abilities are linked to an African god. In this case we’re talking about Vixen and her Anansi Totem, which allows her to harness the life force of animals.
Sometimes-Prickly, Secretive Founders Who at One Point Are Presumed Dead
On the surface, Rip Hunter would seem to have more in common with a certain iconic Time Lord, not only because he’s a time traveler but also due to actor Arthur Darvill’s former role on “Doctor Who.” Like Nick Fury, he assembles a team of heroes to defend against a global threat, and isn’t above withholding information to ensure they remain together to accomplish their goals.
As director of S.H.I.E.LD., Fury had access to the Helicarrier, a computerized and fully armed SUV and a host of other vehicles and aircraft, while Rip had his time ship Waverider … which undoubtedly gives the advantage to the one-time Time Master. And somewhat similar to how Fury was presumed dead during part of of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” Rip is now missing and possibly deceased.
Ridiculously Advanced Artificial Intelligence
Originally created by Tony Star to tend to the systems in his home, the artificial intelligence J.A.R.V.I.S. (“Just A Rather Very Intelligent System”) becomes integral to the Iron Man armor before eventually being combined with Vision in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” Perhaps a similar future awaits Gideon, the interactive artificial consciousness on “Legends of Tomorrow” programmed to operate many of the systems aboard the Waverider, Rip Hunter’s time ship. She’s already displayed signs of sentience, so finding her an android body wouldn’t be too much of a leap.
Former Criminals Gone Straight (Mostly)
All right, we won’t pretend that Scott Lang’s crimes rise to the levels of Mick Rory’s, or that they share the same sense of morality and justice. That’s not to say Mick doesn’t have a moral code; you just have to look past the emotional instability and pyromania to find it. But Ant-Man and Heat Wave do share a history of being on the wrong side of the law, an expertise in engineering, and a reliance on technology for their “superheroics” — Lang his Ant-Man suit and Rory his Heat Gun.
Planet-Saving Battles Against Alien Invaders
Granted, all of the Arrowverse fought the alien Dominators — that was the whole point of last week’s “Invasion!” crossover — but the act certainly helps to cement those Avengers parallels. Although it was the threat posed by Loki and his allies the alien Chitauri in “Marvel’s The Avengers” that brought the team together, on The CW the Legends had already been operating for a while (if with a changing lineup). However, they were instrumental in not only discovering the impetus for the Dominators’ invasion, but also in preventing the detonation of a bomb that would have killed Earth’s metahumans. Effectively, Firestorm and the Waverider played the role of Iron Man in the Battle of New York.
Airing Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW, “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” stars Victor Garber as Martin Stein/Firestorm, Brandon Routh as The Atom, Caity Lotz as White Canary, Franz Drameh as Jefferson Jackson/Firestorm, Dominic Purcell as Heat Wave, Maisie Richardson-Sellers as Vixen and Nick Zano as Citizen Steel.
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