What is Legends of Tomorrow?

The new series premiers in January, but what the heck is Legends of Tomorrow. Or who? What’s even the right question?

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The DC TV universe is expanding once again come January 21st when the new series Legends of Tomorrow will premier. The show will see a group of heroes unite as a team to stop a singular powerful enemy. Superhero teams are a staple of DC Comics canon, with teams ranging from the more obvious Justice League and Justice Society to the lesser-known Challengers of the Unknown and the Doom Patrol. Legends of Tomorrow will be an important piece in building DC’s substantial TV universe.

So who exactly are the members of DC’s newest team? While several of the characters in the series have already appeared on The Flash or Arrow, the show’s roster of heroes is still hiding a few secrets.

Rip Hunter, Time Master

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Based on the trailer (and the basic premise of the show) it is clear that Rip Hunter will be calling the shots for the team. Hunter is an experienced time traveler (as is the actor playing him, Arthur Darvill) often associated in the comics with major crisis events revolving around time travel.

In certain periods of the character’s history, he is credited as the inventor of time travel technology (often called the time bubble) and is therefore tasked with managing many other heroes whose fights involve time dynamics. This connects to the CW version of the character as Eobard Thawne mentions Hunter having invented the time bubble in season one of The Flash. It is this inventor version of Rip who faces a dictatorial version of Vandal Savage in the comics, so this is likely the central influence for Legends of Tomorrow’s adaptation of both characters.

Ray Palmer, The Atom

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Ray Palmer debuted in the third season of Arrow as a billionaire CEO/Tech genius turned humanitarian crime fighter. This CW incarnation of the character has built a mech-suit infused with Nano technology allowing Palmer to shrink and grow to any size. While shrinking and growing are the general bullet points of The Atom’s powers in any medium, the TV version is a departure from the comics in many ways.

The main difference comes in that comic-Ray Palmer actually has the power to shrink and grow because he has the power to control his own atoms at a molecular level. While it’s clear that this is not where the character is at in the show, this power is related to that of The Flash and could potentially become a part of the character as time progresses. I hope this is true, because with that power The Atom is actually incredibly powerful to the point where his only limit is his imagination.

Arrow introduced that Palmer lost his fiancée, which lightly connects to a controversial comic arc in which one of Palmer’s former lovers murders his wife to gain a closer relationship to him. Where it get’s interesting is that Palmer does in fact grow a bond to his wife’s murderer. While there is little in the TV canon to follow this thread, the famous story line is already set up to be adapted into the Legends of Tomorrow universe.

It is of important note that in the comics, Ray Palmer is the best friend to another hero none other than…

Carter Hall, Hawkman

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Hawkman has been in the DC canon since the Golden Age, giving Legends of Tomorrow a great deal of material to work with in constructing their interpretation. For the most part, Carter Hall is portrayed as an archeologist working in Egypt who is actually the reborn soul of an Egyptian prince cursed to relive a terrible cycle: in each life he will meet and fall in love with Chay-Ara, also cursed, and each time one will watch the other die.

Hawkman derives his power from a magical alloy called Nth Metal, gaining flight, minor regeneration, and super strength. This alloy comes from the planet Thanagar, the inhabitants of which are the hawk-winged alien race Carter models his Hawkman costume on, and from which the Silver Age Hawkman and Girl come. While it’s clear Legends of Tomorrow is using the human version of Hawkman, the Thanagarians could easily come into play in the show’s larger scheme.

Carter is characterized as having a very short fuse and a fierce temper. More specifically, Hawkman is usually depicted as having openly (and staunchly) conservative views. This detail is usually used to add humor to Hawkman’s partnerships with other heroes – the comics partner him with Green Arrow, but Legends of Tomorrow could easily play his personality off any of the characters.

Kendra Saunders, Hawkgirl

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Unlike Carter Hall, Kendra Saunders has no memory of her past or any of Chay-Ara’s memories. She is a distant relative of Shiera Hall, the original Hawkgirl, and is thus possessed by her soul in order to become the current Hawkgirl. She has the same powers as Hawkman, derived also from Nth metal.

Kendra is the reincarnation of Chay-Ara in the same cycle Carter suffers, meaning she is “destined” to fall in love with him only to watch him die (or have him watch her die). The tension Legends of Tomorrow will be able to play on revolves around Carter being constantly aware of this, while Kendra is oblivious. The show will likely toy with their romantic tension (much to the disappointment of Cisco/Kendra shippers.)

Because both Hawkgirl and Hawkman have the same powers and motif, it seems they would be close among the team. But, the real meat of the relationship will come from the conflict their “destinies” create. Hawkman is under the impression that not only should they be in love, but that likely they should be partners as heroes too. Legends of Tomorrow will have the opportunity to explore the intricacies of this unique relationship.

Leonard Snart & Mick Rory, Captain Cold & Heatwave

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While these two rogues have their differences, it is apparent from the Legends of Tomorrow trailer and their appearances on The Flash that they are a package deal. Both of their personalities have been fleshed out well on The Flash.

(Prepare for puns.)

Captain Cold is a cold calculating thief while Heatwave is a hothead with an itchy flamethrower-trigger finger. While The Flash has given some character development to Snart to lead us to believe he has a moral code, Mick Rory has yet to be fleshed out.

Interestingly, neither Captain Cold nor Heatwave has any history as a hero (or even an antihero) in the DC comics’ canon. Legends of Tomorrow will take these two characters in a whole new direction by including them in this team of heroes. Seeing them become heroes (there is probably some additional transitioning required) will be a very interesting adaptation of both men, but there is still reason to believe their histories as villains will come into play a great deal.

Notably, Heatwave has a history with the hero Firestorm – and not a positive one. In the Flashpoint storyline (an arch that we know will be adapted in The Flash series) Mick Rory tries to take over as the body of the Firestorm matrix, killing Jason Rusch in the attempt. While there’s no guarantee that these events will come to be exactly how they did in the comics, it’s safe to say that there might be some friction between Heatwave and his teammate…

Jax Jackson & Martin Stein, Firestorm

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Again, Firestorm has already had sometime in the limelight on The Flash where the hero has already gone through two combinations – first Ronnie Raymond and now Jax Jackson, but always Martin Stein. Legends of Tomorrow seems to be borrowing some details for Jax’s character from Jason Rusch, one of the main Firestorm identities of the comics.

Firestorm’s history is plagued with the death and resurrection of many of the matrix’s members. Martin Stein and Ronnie Raymond have both died in more than one comic arc. As we know, Ronnie is dead in the CW universe, but the comics suggest that fans might not hope in vain that Ronnie could return to the series and maybe even to the Firestorm matrix.

Sara Lance, White Canary

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Sara Lance has been a character on Arrow for multiple seasons now, and therefore has a well-founded characterization coming into Legends of Tomorrow. Already this is a new version of White Canary, as the comics’ version is a villain seen in a single arc of Birds of Prey. Like Lance, traditional White Canary is a highly trained hand-to-hand fighter (in the comics she is considered one of the top ranked fighters).

By including her in Legends of Tomorrow, the CW has the opportunity to give both White Canary and Sara Lance a chance to expand as a character. Lance, in Arrow, has been tied to the League of Assassins and therefore has been a rather brooding and tortured character. This new team of heroes will give her (and the writers) the freedom to grow beyond those confines.

Vandal Savage

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DC comics’ canon features varying degrees of immortality in heroes and villains alike, but Vandal Savage tops the list. Savage was a Cro-Magnon caveman nearly 50 thousand years ago when radiation from a meteor imbued to him a superhuman invulnerability to the effects of age (and slightly enhanced speed and strength). Since he has lived for all of human history, Vandal Savage has accrued a massive font of knowledge, including history and tactical warfare.

Savage, as his name suggests, is often depicted as ruthlessly violent and blood thirsty, though only if personally affronted (i.e. defeated). The mix of genius-level intellect and hunger for power have made him DC’s go-to dictator, the role he will play in Legends of Tomorrow.

Interestingly, in the canon of the comics, Vandal Savage is implied to be many infamous historical figures, such as Alexander the Great, Vlad the Impaler, Julius Caesar, and Jack the Ripper (to only name a few). It will be interesting to see hints and references to his long history as important figures integrated into his role in Legends of Tomorrow.

Not Heroes, Legends

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There are many comic arcs Legends of Tomorrow could fall back on (and many I’m sure they will), but the real strength of the show will be the new choices they make. This is a completely new team with an iteration of heroes never brought together. Each member of the teams brings their own history, and watching those intermingle will be a brand new experience for the DC TV universe.