DC created its super team on TV and already gave it a TV show, CW’s Legends of Tomorrow. In LoT, all of the network’s heroes teaming up in one series for a Justice League-esque adventure each week. This is easily one of the most anticipated series to premiere this fall, and for good reason — in a brilliant move, CW just created its own version of Power Rangers with DC superheroes.
When you hear the name Power Rangers in reference to anything in modern television, it’s easy to take it as a negative. However, in this case it’s the exact opposite. By using a bit of the ingenuity that makes this year’s Mad Max reboot one of the best movies of the summer, CW is essentially promoting stunt performers and character actors to a largely leading role, putting the action in the hands of the experts.
Sure, we’ll see Victor Garber, Stephen Amell, Robbie Amell, and Doctor Who’s Arthur Darvill – but we’ll also see a bunch of stunt performers who look similar to them; dressed in their famed costumes; and doing terrific stunt work while fighting the villain of the week, and eventually a big bad.
This year’s Mad Max – which is a more directly positive reference – is the big-budget version of what Legends of Tomorrow will do, in theory. Take a wide camera shot, a handful of “actors,” and all the best stunt performers and acrobats you can find. Give their characters little to no dialogue, and let them do what they do best: stunt work. Just like the Power Rangers.
Rumor has it that during the “good ‘ole” Mighty Morphin’ days, “face” actors (think Jason David Frank, etc.) made $800 a week, while “stunt” actors (in the suits) made $400. The stunt actors could then film the fight scenes, and the “face” actors would be off shooting the next episodes — or whatever scenes required them to be a Power Ranger without the helmet on (usually in the command center). Despite being the most popular kids show (and toys) at the time, everyone working on the show was greatly underpaid. They also shot multiple episodes a week. Regardless, Power Rangers established an impressive foundation for entertaining, action-packed stories to be told on the cheap.
Take the Power Rangers philosophy, ramp up the pay to something reasonable, along with a plan that’s more logical, and you’ve got Legends of Tomorrow, for all intents and purposes. When Stephen Amell is on camera as Oliver Queen on Arrow, his stuntman (or an additional one) can essentially be doing the heavy lifting as Arrow on Legends of Tomorrow. Then, when there’s time, Amell can show up and do a few pickups with the other DC TV heroes, and CW has itself a brand new team-up adventure with very little additional cost. It’s all about working smart, not hard.
Even films like The Avengers make use of stunt performers to do much of the “superhero work,” while the “face” actors sit behind the camera and watch. Check out our interview with Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans for Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, where they explain the filming process:
Fortunately, longevity like Power Rangers – or even quality like Mad Max – is proof that there’s something to this stunt performer formula, and there’s no reason to think that Greg Berlanti and his team can’t crack it for CW and DC. If anything, the crossover episode of Arrow and Flash serves as a perfect pilot (and likely did) for how well a story with two heroes can be thoroughly enjoyable — and by adding even more heroes into the mix (say 4 or 5), each character receives even less “face” time — yet more action is seen onscreen — and the audience is none the wiser.
Whether or not you’re a fan of Marvel or DC (or both), there’s one thing that’s clear: CW is going to be attempting to bring together more heroes than ever before, on one small screen. So even if you haven’t watched Arrow or Flash – or have no real interest to — you should at least make some time to watch this year’s most fascinating television experiment, Legends of Tomorrow.
Legends of Tomorrow premieres this fall on CW. You can check out the trailer below: