Of all the CW’s superhero shows, none have a hill quite as steep to climb as Legends of Tomorrow. While The Flash and Arrow both benefit from a singular focus on their titular heroes, Legends has to divide its attention among eight separate characters. A team-up show like this has never really been attempted by either DC or Marvel, with the latter of the two studios opting to keep their large-scale crossovers restricted to their movie universe. Everything it attempts is a first, and now that we’re approaching the halfway mark in its debut season, it’s time to go in depth on what’s worked, what hasn’t, and where things can go from here.
It’s already tough having eight heroes jostle for the attention of an audience. Things are made even more difficult for Legends though by throwing time travel into the mix as the primary method of setting the scene. Six episodes in, and our heroes have traveled from 2016 to the ’70s, forward into the ’80s, and then way forward into the year 2046. We’ve already seen teases at coming appearances for Jonah Hex and the original Red Tornado, meaning soon, our heroes will be traveling to both the Wild West and World War II-America too.
While our heroes travel through various eras in our country’s history (and future), Legends has often struggled to give each of its characters something important to do in every episode. Some weeks heroes will be benched to suss out personal drama aboard the time machine. Others will involve a single conflict between two characters drowning out the rest of team’s issues. It’s led to an inconsistent tone that varies on a weekly basis, making it difficult to get a beat on what exactly the series is trying to accomplish
That’s not to say Legends of Tomorrow has been without its high points. Its latest episode took us into the future to see an aged Oliver Queen, presiding over what’s left of Star City, giving us a interesting new connection to the main thread of the CW’s shared superhero universe. Additionally, hilarious and stellar performances from both Wentworth Miller (Captain Cold) and Dominic Purcell (Heat Wave) have single-handedly made for some of the best moments in almost every episode of the series so far.
Our original critique for the Legends pilot was that it was a promising idea with a lot of work to do in the realm of focusing the story down to its core elements. It still hasn’t completely overcome that obstacle, but what it has done is provide a perfectly entertaining supplement to its shared universe contemporaries on the network. Arrow is currently struggling its way through one of its weaker, more frustrating seasons, while The Flash is doubling back on old tropes to drive its sophomore campaign. It’s left a perfect niche for Legends of Tomorrow to fill, as something entirely new and interesting in the face of other shows regressing.
There’s still over half a season left for the series, leaving it plenty of time to adjust course into a more focused narrative. Any show as ambitious as this one is always going to have growing pains, and Legends has had them in spades over its first six episodes. It’s not quite in the territory of The Flash circa Season 1. What it has accomplished though is proving it can belong in an already-crowded CW superhero lineup.
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