Warning: The following article contains spoilers for the DC's Legends of Tomorrow Season 4 episode “Wet Hot American Bummer,” which premiered Monday on The CW.
A Swamp Thing live-action series won't premiere until next year on the DC Universe streaming service, but this week's episode of DC's Legends of Tomorrow reveals the creature already exists in the Arrowverse.
The confirmation comes courtesy of Matt Ryan's John Constantine, who says, “I happen to know a Swamp Thing.” That's, of course, a nod to the character's 1984 comics debut in The Saga of the Swamp Thing #25, by Alan Moore, Stephen Bissette and John Totleben.
"We Hot American Bummer" also has some fun with previous big- and small-screen adaptations of Swamp Thing when it checks in on Sarah Lance (Caity Lotz) and her girlfriend, Ava Sharpe (Jes Macallan), on a “Netflix and Chill”-style date. We get to see a few seconds of a very low-budget horror film they're watching in which two summer camp counselors are attacked by a cheesy-looking swamp monster. Sarah then pauses the film, called Swamp Thaaaang; the four A's signify it's the fourth installment in the franchise. So Swamp Thing isn't just a figure in the Arrowverse -- he's also a cult-movie icon.
That scene, at the beginning of the episode, feels like a wink and nudge to the 1982 Swamp Thing movie by writer/director Wes Craven, the 1989 follow-up The Return of Swamp Thing, and the 1992 Swamp Thing TV series. Actor/stuntman Dick Durock played the title character in the films and on the television show, best remembered for their low budgets and campy qualities.
Sadly, those nods to Swamp Thing's cinematic, television and comic book roots are the character's only presence in the episode. That's no surprise, though, because Constantine admits early on that he doubts the creature he knows would travel as far north as a Maine summer camp, where most of the action in “Wet Hot American Bummer” unfolds. Once there, the team confronts a monster known as a Shtriga that drains the life force of children.
The episode ends up having a lot of fun with the cliches and conventions of summer camp films, including those in the horror genre. And just because Swamp Thing doesn't make an actual appearance doesn't mean the creature couldn't appear later on this season. Perhaps the Legends could seek out Swampy and ask him to help his old friend Constantine. Because the episode ends with John weakened, and perhaps dying, from a spell he cast to restore the life force of a camper drained by the Shtriga.
Airing Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on The CW, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow stars Caity Lotz, Dominic Purcell, Brandon Routh, Nick Zano, Maisie Richardson-Sellers, Tala Ashe, Matt Ryan, Jes Macallan and Courtney Ford.