When they first started up, I avidly watched the DC TV shows on The CW, wanting to see which characters would show up next. After a while, I got annoyed with the shows and how the characters that I adored and was actively watching for were the comic characters in name only. Eventually, I gave up watching. I would go back to see the crossovers since they normally replicated a fairly major event in the comics, but that was really it. When asked, I’d come to honestly say, “The only one I actually liked anymore was Legends.”
So, a few weeks ago, the annual crossover came and went using the famous storyline Crisis on Infinite Earths, and I’ll save you from my opinions on it because, really, it’d just be getting into the weeds of decades worth of comic canon getting thrown out the window by The CW. Again.
However, I found myself extremely entertained by the Legends characters and especially John Constantine as played by Matt Ryan, seeming to become a permanent feature of the CW-verse. So, I decided to pick up the show again, remembering that when I’d stopped the character had joined the cast (after a failed first season of his own show on NBC) for the season’s overarching plot.
Some quick info about the show: originally just another spin-off of Arrow and The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow featured an ensemble cast of minor characters, both heroes, villains and those who found themselves somewhere in between, from the other shows who had been recruited to help save the timeline. The first season was mainly just misadventures in space-time with a Doctor Who vibe further helped by Arthur Darvill (literally) at the helm (of the timeship) as Captain Rip Hunter.
As the show progressed, though, it leaned further into the weirdness of its comic book source material and grew into something really unique and enjoyable. Now, the Legends don’t exist in the comics — not just the team as a whole or the plot of their adventures, but many of the current cast of characters themselves. And yet, it’s the best comic book show currently on TV.
The plots are original and funny, saving history from all sorts of things from supervillains trying to use it for their own gains to literal demons, and there’s just enough nods to the source material to keep even me happy, and I think that’s why I like it so much more than the others.
It’s not trying to be the comics, not at all, but when it uses characters whom I know and love — like Constantine or Captain Cold or Commander Steel — it acknowledges their origins and asserts how in the circumstances presented this is indeed how they’d act. The nods to Justice Society of America storylines or Hellblazer in the newer seasons are just that: nods done with respect for the characters and the source.
Yes, Beebo is ridiculous and absurd. Yes, the team as a whole is superbly overpowered and yet incompetent. But, it does wonders for representation, brilliantly presents the found family trope and the characters’ growth is organic and believable, even those who are only around for roughly a season like Hawkgirl or Wally West.
The previous four seasons are on Netflix, and the first few episodes of the newest season are currently available for free on The CW’s website. If you need something to watch in between midterm studying or over spring break, I highly recommend giving Legends of Tomorrow a chance, if only for seeing how close they manage to make it look like Constantine really is a chain-smoking warlock within the TV standards that prevent him from actually taking a drag on a cigarette.