With the success of Arrow and its spinoff series The Flash, The CW has proven itself more than capable of supporting its own version of a shared DC universe. The network is already expanding and building momentum as it moves into the next season of these shows, with the Vixen animated series premiering in August 2015 and a third spinoff series, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, set to premiere in the first half of 2016.
Legends of Tomorrow is taking a new direction, moving away from the structure of The Flash and Arrow and embracing a new formula for storytelling. The first trailer answered questions about the show’s overall tone and plot, as well as introduced the major players in the series. The team at the core of the show is made up of both heroes and villains, including Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh), Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) and Canary (Caity Lotz) alongside newcomers Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) and Hawkgirl (Ciara Renée).
Showrunner Phil Klemmer recently spoke with Screen Rant about the upcoming series and teased how these characters will be interacting, considering their wildly different origins and backgrounds:
“[The] Arrow is the dark sort of vigilante. And Flash has a sort of lightness and sort of family qualities. Ours will definitely be a little closer to that. It’s more like a caper, because it’s sort of like ‘Ocean’s 11’, where you have a team of misfits, a dirty dozen, and they’ve been sent on essentially a suicide mission. So it will have a lot of interpersonal tension and it will have a lot more… it’s like a fun.. it is almost like a family dynamic between people who can’t get along but are forced to get along because they’re stuck in this stupid time travel spaceship and having to save the world. But if it weren’t for that they would absolutely kill each other. At a certain point, we will have darkness emerge and characters will betray one another and be tempted by the dark side. And others might not make it along for the full trip. And others might be lost in weird time periods.”
Nothing here is completely unexpected, as even Arrow is opting to take a lighter tone in its upcoming season. However, the comparisons to Ocean’s 11 are an interesting indicator that the team won’t always be fighting on the side of the law. Klemmer goes on to describe the fundamentals of his series and why he’s excited to be working on the show.
“I think when they are all hanging out, you can’t help but have people who are that different have fundamental disagreements about the stupidest of things. It’s just a very sort of kooky, wisecracky show that, to me, is like hilarious, because that’s what I want to write. I don’t want to write people who say, like, ‘Let’s go save the world! Yeah, yeah, yeah! We all save the world!’ To me, it’s like, ‘Hold on, hold on, hold on. Let’s talk about this saving the world. I’ve got a side agenda. While we’re saving the world, I’d like to try to do something. I want to change my 8th grade math score so I can do better.’ I like that they are selfish and petty and human. Those are the kind of heroes that I enjoy writing.”
It’s not hard to imagine Captain Cold being one to try and take advantage of his journey through time. The character has shown repeatedly that he will only do something if he can benefit in some way. It will be interesting to see what other characters try and change their personal histories. Could Sara Lance try and prevent her untimely death at the hands of Thea Queen?
Klemmer also dropped a few hints about the show’s future and explained that the series doesn’t follow the traditional format of its predecessors.
“It’s an anthology show. This is not designed to go forever. This season is meant to be standalone… I mean not as anthological as ‘True Detective.’ But not everybody will be continuing on this journey. The sort of central premise of time travel and Vandal Savage is totally up for grabs. This is meant to be a season that is tightly serialized that, when it’s over, you can’t go home again. It’s not going to begin Season 2 with us all hopping back on the same ship and like ‘Let’s get Vandal! Let’s get him for real this time!’ This is not traditional episodic television.
Executive producer Marc Guggenheim chimed in to further explain the structure and compare it to FX’s American Horror Story:
“The way we think of it is each arc, each season is its own separate movie. What we want to do is have each separate movie have its own identity. So almost to the point where each season was telling one big story that you could sort of subtitle, like the way you do subtitle ‘American Horror Story,’ if that makes sense”
While the show is a standalone series, the impact of the series will most likely be echoing through CW’s shared DC universe. With The Flash already exploring alternate dimensions, it’s not a stretch to assume that Legends of Tomorrow will tread similar ground in terms of time travel. The potential is limitless, as characters could manipulate their futures as they see fit, or accidentally wipe themselves from all of existence.
Treating Legends of Tomorrow as an anthology series (rather than an ongoing show) opens up more questions about the show’s future. While Klemmer notes that the central storyline of time travel and Vandal Savage will still be available for the next series, he doesn’t explicitly state it will be required for future iterations of the show. As such, Legends of Tomorrow might turn into a sort of proving ground, allowing DC and The CW to experiment with new characters and storytelling techniques without overtly affecting the established series.
It’s an approach that makes sense, especially considering the comic book roots of the series. DC Comics has published a series titled The Brave and The Bold on and off since the 1950s, with the focus of the series being self-contained, superhero team-ups. The books capitalize on the appeal of bringing different types of heroes together for a single story, and The CW now has a chance to capitalize on that idea with their new anthology… Assuming that the first season is a success, anyway.
The Flash season two debuts October 6th, 2015 on The CW; Arrow returns for season four a day later on October 7th; and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is expected to debut on The CW by the first half of 2016.