• DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Doesn’t Have Time to Spare

    by  • February 11, 2016 • Television • 1 Comment


    These superheroes fall short of legendary status.

    Superheroes are more prevalent in television and movies today than they have ever been. From their original appearances on the thin paper pages of comic books, superheroes are worth millions of dollars to their respective corporate owners today. Warner Brothers and DC Comics have had a recent resurgence, and have been producing more live-action movies that star the most popular DC superheroes, two of which will be featured on the big screen next month in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. As for the DC Comics franchise on television, the networks tend to make the B-squad or even the C-squad superheroes the protagonists of the shows. Recently the CW network premiered its third DC Comics TV series, which is actually a spin-off of its two current superhero shows, Arrow and The Flash. The series is titled DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (Thursdays, 8:00 p.m. ET); and as monumental as that title sounds the actual content of the series is a bit underwhelming.

    The series begins in the year 2166 where Vandal Savage, an immortal with a fondness for world domination, has forcefully taken control of the Earth. In an attempt to prevent this terrible fate from coming to fruition, Captain Rip Hunter takes it upon himself to travel back in time to the year 2016, in order to form a team made up of both superheroes and supervillains. The team consists of top female assassin White Canary; the nuclear-powered Firestorm (actually two men in one, athlete Jefferson Jackson and elderly physicist Dr. Martin Stein); billionaire industrialist Ray Palmer, a.k.a. the Atom;  winged wonders Hawkman and Hawkgirl; and former criminals Captain Cold and Heat Wave, who wield freeze- and heat-ray guns, respectively.

    After assembling the team, Captain Hunter takes them back to the year 1975 to gather some information on Vandal Savage. Captain Hunter elects Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and the Atom to accompany him, while the other members are asked to stay behind and to stay out of trouble. White Canary, Captain Cold, and Heat Wave all choose to ignore their orders and they decide to visit a local biker bar. Captain Cold and Heat Wave were both villains prior to joining the team and their motivations tend to lean toward theft, but White Canary was an assassin for hire and she is naturally drawn to violence. That’s why it’s no surprise that she begins an all-out brawl with the bikers, accompanied by Captain Cold and Heat Wave. Meanwhile, a masked man with a large laser gun begins attacking Captain Hunter’s time-traveling ship. After escaping the attack, Captain Hunter reveals that the masked man was a bounty hunter who is after them because he stole the time-traveling ship from the Time Council, an organization from the distant future that maintains order throughout time and space.

    With its complex time-traveling story and a loose affiliation to previously established plotlines, it’s a little surprising that this show seems so mundane. The biggest problem with this series is that the group dynamic feels forced and inauthentic. The characters themselves are two-dimensional and their actions are predictable based on their motivations. The villains, of course, like to steal things; the assassin enjoys killing people; and the various heroes simply seek to live up to their title and become legends in their own right. This dysfunctional group rarely works well together, and they often work better as individuals or in smaller groups. This series is action-packed and over-the-top with battle sequences that involve every team member fighting a few bad guys apiece. It truly is a visual spectacle to see half of the team using hand-to-hand combat to beat up bad guys, while the others use their technology to blast them away, all while some nondescript explosions go off in the background. Needless to say, this superhero series has all of the ingredients for a high quality super-show, but what it severely lacks is substance.

    Violence would be the main concern for parents considering whether or not to let their children watch this series. In the first episode, nearly every character is introduced as they are either fighting bad guys or violently fleeing from the police. Though the violence is not very graphic, it is frequent and continuous throughout each episode. Sexual content is minimal and not a major concern. Offensive language is also minimal and includes such words as: “damn,” “hell,” and “bitch.” The series is consistently rated TV-14 LV. DC’s Legends of Tomorrow has had a rocky start, but in time it may find its footing. Only time will tell whether or not DC’s Legends of Tomorrow will become just a thing of the past.



    Enrique Aguilar is a Research Analyst for the PTC. He is a graduate of California State University, Fullerton, with a Bachelor’s Degree in the field of Radio-TV-Film.

    One Response to DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Doesn’t Have Time to Spare

    1. February 19, 2016 at 8:30 am

      I agree with your review. I am a long-time DC comic fan (and comic collector), but I find the series boring, with very weak plots so far. The scientific nonsense in it is even far worse than in The Flash, which I am a fan of. LoT especially needs a good science advisor–even just changing a few terms in the scripts would be a vast improvement. For example, the need for an alpha detector to locate Vandal Savage was pure malarkey. Some script writer pulled up a term for a particle without putting the effort into looking up what it meant. An alpha particle is simply the nucleus of a helium atom. How to detect an alpha particle was common knowledge in high energy particle physics from the 1940′s onward. Further, alpha particles cannot even penetrate past skin depth of a person, let alone be detected far away from their source. Time travel is also a subject that is treated well and consistently in scripts, or poorly and inconsistently. I am afraid LoT is choosing the latter. For now, based on the 2-dimensionality of character development, lack of meaningful script, and scientific nonsense in the scripts, I give LoT a disappointing grade of “D”… and I’m known as a generous grader! With some proper script guidance though, the series could rise to its potential.

      It would just take a bit of science knowledge and ability to make the science more meaningful to the “science fiction” of LoT. A good science advisor would help significantly to make the LoT scripts at least sensible, without any additional cost to the producers. LoT is sorely in need of one.

      Professor Gerald Cleaver
      Graduate Program Director, Department of Physics
      Division Head, Center for Astrophysics, Space Physics and Engineering Research
      Baylor University

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *