A spinoff series from "Arrow" and "The Flash" was first rumored last February and ordered to series in May. Tonight, all of the waiting and all of the hard work pays off when The CW debuts its hotly anticipated third DC Comics-based series, "DC's Legends of Tomorrow."
The series follows time-traveling rogue Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) as he assembles a team of heroes and villains first introduced on "Arrow" and "The Flash" including Professor Martin Stein (Victor Garber) Ray Palmer AKA Atom (Brandon Routh), White Canary (Caity Lotz). Hawkgirl (Ciarra Renee), Hawkman (Falk Hentschel), Firestorm (Franz Drameh), Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell) and Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller). Their mission: travel through time to stop immortal villain Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) from destroying the past, present and future and, in the process, become legends.
With the series premiere airing tonight at 8, CBR's Jonah Weiland spoke with "Legends of Tomorrow" showrunner Phil Klemmer about the series and why fans of the CW's other super hero shows should definitely expect the unexpected. The "Veronica Mars" and "Chuck" veteran explains how the series will function as "super heroes after hours" with the team trapped with each other on the Waverider 24 hours a day, why they don't need alter egos and the fallout of anyone trying to alter their past or future during their larger mission.
In the first half of the interview, Phil Klemmer explains why "Legends of Tomorrow" is not a typical network and will be wildly different than even "The Flash" and "Arrow" that it spins out, nor will each episode or season be like any other. of and won't be the same episode to episode or season to season. He also discusses how the writers have managed to find the human aspect amid the superhuman exploits and time travel the show is centered around, and which character's growth has surprised him.
On how different "Legends of Tomorrow" from "The Flash" and "Arrow":
Phil Klemmer: It's hard to explain. When you start on a show you go so deep into he world that you so quickly lose your bearings that it seems normal and it's not until other people look into it from the outside that they can point out that you are living in a bizarre world. To me, I'd never worked in anything comic book or super hero before. The closest thing would be "Chuck," but this feels utterly familiar. It's strange how, it's like when you get into a bath and the temperature changes, you don't really notice it. All of the sudden I see posters when I'm driving around town and I'm like, "Oh my god, that's my show. That's our show." I never thought I would be doing something like that but it feels comfortable because to me the characters aren't superheroes, they're humans who happen to also be superheroes or villains.
On how the series can maintain its grounded, human aspects while dealing with super powers and time travel:
Most superhero stories you have people existing in two worlds where you have an alter ego and, you know, that you have to be Bruce Wayne during the day so that you can be Batman at night. In our show there's no need to ever inhabit you're sort of civilian alter ego. Our people are who they are 24 hours a day. The only thing that I think would "ground" them is the fact that they're all together on the Waverer, this time traveling space ship. The best way I can describe it is it's sort of like "Big Brother" in the sky where it is a domestic, you know, it is like they're all living under the same roof. And yes they travel through time and they try to stop Vandal Savage, and you're right, there are these incredible action spectacle setpieces, but in their down time they're living on a space ship together. So it is like the crew of "Star Trek" where they have to exist. There's no enemies on the Waverider except for each other. All of the sort of -- the writ large super hero story all of a sudden gets condensed and it really is about people living together under the same roof. Then to me the story becomes about a dysfunctional family because people aren't using their powers, Ray Palmer is not The Atom. It's really fun to write because it is super heroes after hours [Laughs] when people can shed the proverbial cape and exist like human beings. That's when you get at sort of the underlying pathology of "What made you a hero?" or "What made you a villain?" Since we are with these people for 16 episodes, it's not like they're black hats and white hats. We're watching people evolve. The more you hang out with people, the more you sort of take on their attributes and Leonard Snart hanging out with Ray Palmer, they're rubbing off on each other, and to me that's super fun.
On how the show is built so future seasons will be totally different:
Greg [Berlanti], Andrew [Kreisberg] and Marc [Guggenheim] selected the initial cast of characters. I can only imagine that their sort of impulse was just the maximalist, where if one is good, eight is great. The idea of doing a team-up show is so delicious that you do get to go back to, look at all the guest stars and to ask yourself the question, "Who didn't we get enough time with?" and "Who would we want that person to interact with?"
Rip Hunter is the glue that sort of holds everybody together in this season, but I think the tensions in the team and the sort of perilousness of their endeavor will tell the audience that this isn't going to be a sort of traditional network show where we as writers find some clever way to basically hit the reset button at the end of these 16 and Episode 2x01 is 'How can we stop Vandal Savage from destroying the world in the exact same way that we did last season?' We're hoping to burn through story and to burn through our sort of character conflicts that we created so we can invent new ones in the second season.
In the final part of the discussion, Klemmer explains more about who Rip Hunter is and his arc over the series, where the team will head in addition to the 1970s and the Old West, as well as whether any specific DC Comics storylines have influenced upcoming episodes. He also talks about the temptation for characters to alter their pasts and futures and the ramifications of those decisions on the team and the world around them.
On who Rip Hunter is and where the show will take him:
He is a good man, but he's also a man with a mission that's larger than himself, and that's larger than the team. What we sort of get at in these early episodes is the way he sells this mission to the team -- it's not as simple as he made it sound. One thing we always say, Rip Hunter sort of goes into this series thinking that it's going to be just one episode. Of course the complications that force our team to be on this journey for an entire season, you start to realize that he withheld a lot of information from them.
On whether the show will deal with the characters encountering their older or younger selves as they travel through time:
The only way to sort of ground something as saving the world from an immortal future despot is you have to leaven that with human scale stories. Like I said, our characters are super heroes out in the world, but on the ship they're human beings. To me this show would get pretty boring if it were just about us and Vandal having some diametric clash every episode. So even though that sort of informs every story, you know we have eight people on our team and while the A-team is off dealing with Vandal Savage and saving the world, you know, while the cat's away you can't blame people for checking the calendar and being like, "You know what, while I'm back here there's a couple things I'd like to change. So you have these side missions where people can delve into their own past or take a peek at their own future, which is obviously just as dangerous. Part of the fun of the show is, in addition to dealing with Vandal Savage, we have to deal with the ripple we create in the timeline and the inadvertent butterfly effects we have on our own futures and the future of the world. Sometimes in trying to fix things for ourselves we can screw things up for other people.