On television, superheroes are rampant, providing hope (Supergirl), grit (Daredevil, Jessica Jones), fun (The Flash), and meta-human action adventure (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). But for a show that mixes all of that up in one genre-filled concoction, look no further than DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow, which brings together heroes and villains on a mission through time to save humanity from immortal dictator Vandal Savage.
Under the leadership of Time Master Rip Hunter, the group, consisting of The Atom, White Canary, Firestorm, Heatwave, Hawkgirl, and Captain Cold, is halfway through its first season of adventures, with a second already ordered. Still, there's plenty of time between now and then for surprises and revelations.
Since the series debuted, there have been rumblings of cast additions or changes. The first taste of this was with the death of Hawkman in episode two, and the later apparent death of Mick Rory (Heatwave) at the hands of Leonard Snart (Captain Cold). Rory was ultimately revealed to have come back as warrior from the future Chronos (a recurring part of the show from the first episode and a time twist that would make Doc Brown proud). It's the hope of executive producer Marc Guggenheim that there will be the opportunity in season two to cast actors for multi-episode arcs, without necessarily making them series regulars.
"It's a lot easier to get people to commit to a handful of episodes rather than a whole season and would give us more flexibility in terms of casting," he says. "Even this year, you'll see not an insignificant number of changes. Similar to what we did in episode seven where Rory was essentially voted off of the island by the team. That's going to be a continuing element of the show."
Brandon Routh Channels Clark Kent
The eternal optimist of the show is Brandon Routh's Ray Palmer, AKA The Atom. Routh, of course, portrayed the Man of Steel in 2006's Superman Returns, and admits that there's definitely a little bit of his take on Clark Kent in Palmer's personality.
"Initially Ray was excited and enthused about technology," says Routh. "As I worked with the writers and producers and played Ray, we kind of molded him into being excited about life, period. That is a lot of fun to play, and allows a lot of levity and humor to be given to him, even in dark situations. He can play the humor even when your back's against the wall and there's a moment for that little joke to keep things light. Now it's become part of the character; it's written in there without my adding it. And it's part of who Clark Kent was. I probably selfishly brought a little bit of that, because I like Clark’s world view. For me, Clark was always about Kal-El getting to truly experience life, because there was no other way for him to do so. 'No one knows who I am; I can really fully live and be amazed and enthused and in the moment about everything I'm experiencing.'"
"Shit's Gonna Get Real"
So proclaims Guggenheim, who explains that while the first half of the season was about introducing the characters, concepts and elements of the show, the second half pays off much of those conceits: "Even little things that we were establishing and planting the seeds for, that people didn't necessarily pick up on, you'll start to see come to fruition in the back half of the year. I also think we've started to figure out the show better, as you do with any first year show."
Embracing Her Inner Hawk
As actress Ciara Renee explains it, while it's fun to play a character who has lived over the course of thousands of years through reincarnated lives, grasping the physicality of being Hawkgirl isn't as easy as it would seem. "Physically," Renee muses, "we are doing a lot of stunts all the time. We have a great stunt team and I have an amazing stunt double. But when we first started, it was very interesting working with the stunt team on what it would be like to have a set of giant wings coming out of my butt. It was rough at first, but now that we keep playing with it, we've come up with the right posture, and how having those wings would affect the way you move around. Doing some of the wirework was informative, too. What would it be like to have wings and fly just of your own volition? You're not in a plane and you're not on something. So that's been fun to figure out."
The Old West
One of the highlights of the season for the cast was episode eleven, "The Magnificent Eight," which finds the crew in the Old West where they encounter, among others, DC's western hero, Jonah Hex (played on the big screen in 2010 by Josh Brolin, in this episode by Jonathon Schaech).
"I love the Western costume," Caity Lotz, who plays Sarah Lance/White Canary, states. "There's an epic shot of all of us walking together through town in our Western gear and everyone is so tall and I look like Fido Goes West next to them. There I am, with my big cowboy hat on, looking really cool - except when I'm walking next to them. Normally you can stand on apple boxes so everyone's tall, but not there. Cool shot, though."
As noted by several of the show’s cast members, there has been a steady evolution of their characters over the course of the first season.
Ciara Renee (Kendra Saunders/Hawkgirl): "She has a lot of information thrown at her about who she is within the confines of these other 4,000 years worth of lives she's lived. With every one of those lives, there's a new piece to her puzzle that she finds. How much do you really know about yourself? Or another person? It could take years and years for you to actually know everything about one person. Even though we sit with ourselves all the time and we're in our own heads, there are still many things about ourselves that we're not aware of. And she's had 4,000 years of discovery about all of the amazing things that she is, and the different circumstances that create who she is. It's a lot she has to kind of bring together. I also think that she's becoming more confident in being a warrior and being a superhero and a protector. It's something she wants to do, but it's pretty scary to be flying around and risking your life every episode."
Franz Drameh (Jefferson "Jax" Jackson/Firestorm): I think Jackson grows up quite a bit. He starts to realize that the world isn't so black and white. There are lots of shades of grey and he has to really mature and find out who he is as a hero. He starts off the season not wanting to be a real part of the whole superhero thing, but as things progress he has to step up to the plate and embrace these powers and what he's supposed to do.
Brandon Routh (Ray Palmer/The Atom): In my mindset, Ray has changed as he's spent more time with the characters who are most different from him; people like Snart, Rory and Rip Hunter. He's kind of able to understand where they're coming from and not just seeing them as criminals or, in the case of Rip, not just solely being out for himself and saving his family from Savage. To know that they're passionate about certain things and can actually work together as a team even if Ray doesn't agree with the history of each character. All of that changes Ray in a lot of ways. He becomes more open, his worldview becomes a little more open, and he's not so judgmental about people as he had been."
Caity Lotz (Sarah Lance/White Canary): A big part of it in the beginning was getting rid of her self-hatred, learning how to control her blood lust and not feeling like she's a terrible murderer. She needs to accept herself more and although she's not all the way there, that's where she's heading towards. The other challenge for me is that at the beginning of Legends, I didn't know what the tone was going to be. I'd get a script and Sarah's got all these jokes and wants to dance. I'm, like, “Wait a second, so who is this, because this is not Sarah Lance from Arrow?” It was trying to find a way to make the tone switch of the show for the character, but still keep it in character. I felt it did make sense since she died and everything that could go wrong went wrong. She's been through some serious shit, and now maybe it's okay for her to have more levity.
The Vandal Savage Endgame
DC's Legends Of Tomorrow was launched with the notion of a team - future legends - who would unite to stop immortal Vandal Savage from becoming absolute ruler of Earth in the 22nd century. That story, however, will be resolved by the end of season one.
Details Guggenheim, "Like we do with The Flash and Arrow, Vandal Savage was conceived as our big bad for the season. I'm not going to say that season one doesn't end with a cliffhanger, but it ends with a definitive answer or end to the Vandal Savage story. So you will know if Rip Hunter's family gets saved, if Vandal Savage conquers the world, what happens to Vandal Savage, what happens to the Hawks. You're going to know all of that by the end of the year."
DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow airs on the CW in the US and Sky1 in the UK.