DC’s Legends of Tomorrow debuted recently, becoming the third comic book adaptation in so-called “Arrowverse” of DC properties on The CW. Its sister shows – Arrow and The Flash – have garnered critical and fan attention in the past few years. And now, the spinoff must stand on its own two feet with heroes and villains alike flanking its stories.
While Arrow and The Flash have been successful in a lot of ways, they have also stumbled in many others. We don’t want that to happen to the latest show in the universe.
With that in mind, here are 10 Things Legends of Tomorrow Needs to Do to Be Successful.
10. Distance itself from Arrow and The Flash.
It might seem counterproductive, but in order for Legends of Tomorrow to be a success, it needs to become confident enough to step out of the shadows of the shows that launched it. Though, of course, there will be references to those particular universes (and most likely the occasional name-dropping of heroes and exploits), the show’s writers should confidently step away and focus on its core characters to propel it rather than relying on constant cameos by the Green Arrow (Stephen Amell), Black Canary (Katie Cassidy), and the Flash (Grant Gustin) to draw viewers in.
In doing this, the show will un-tether itself and allow the characters to become even more fully-realized and fleshed out than they were on Arrow and The Flash. Unfortunately, this seems like it might not be a possibility, considering Stephen Amell is set to reprise his role as (an older version of) Oliver Queen in an upcoming Legends of Tomorrow episode.
9. Contain less cheesy dialogue.
Shows on The CW have improved vastly in terms of variety and quality throughout the years. The network has gone from being one that houses fun, soapy dramas and “guilty pleasures” (like Gossip Girl and 90210) to becoming a multiple Golden Globe-winning one. The first part of Legends of Tomorrow’s pilot episode contained dialogue that was either heavy-handed or way too cheesy.
While Wentworth Miller, who plays Captain Cold, can chew scenery with the best of them, it would benefit the show to step out of Arrow and The Flash’s shadows in regards to the dialogue. The overlap between the three shows is evident, of course (not just in the characters themselves but in the executive producers and writers), but some fresh dialogue, however, would greatly benefit the show moving forward and prevent it from becoming indistinguishable from its other two counterparts.
8. Play around with the diverse character pairings.
Legends of Tomorrow has an extremely diverse cast, most of whom have never or rarely worked together on Arrow and The Flash. That means that the show has so much untapped potential to construct great relationships. In the second part of the pilot, the show explored one such pairing: Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) and Leonard Snart (Wentworth Miller). This storyline and pairing proved to be successful and interesting, as the two characters not only had a great repartee, but managed to also have a genuine and heartfelt moment.
In order for Legends of Tomorrow to continue to succeed and be good, it needs to be unafraid to integrate the cast members in ways that will further the plot and also character development. While pairings that appear more natural and organic – like Leonard/Mick (Dominic Purcell), Ray/Sara (Caity Lotz) – are important to explore, Legends of Tomorrow needs to ensure it doesn’t waste the chemistry the cast has. This is especially important in regards to Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill); the show needs to find a way to incorporate him better and establish him as a part of the team, rather than just a lone leader.
7. Create a better – or at least more engaging – central conflict.
The immediate problem with Legends of Tomorrow is the fact that its central conflict (at least in the first part of the pilot) is the team’s plan to stop Vandal Savage (Casper Crump). And though there is nothing inherently wrong with a show about comic book heroes and villains teaming up in order to take down evil, the problem is that, unless there is more to this story, the show runs the risk of having an entire season where its main characters play a game of chase throughout the past, present, and future and somehow lose every single time.
There needs to be something more to the show other than “stop Vandal Savage,” because that’s a pretty weak central conflict. Moreover, it is one that will become very old very quickly. There are only so many ways the legends can evade killing Savage and only so many believable ways he can escalate the stakes for them and believably resist capture (or killing). Unless there is more substance or numerous conflicts, this is going to be one of the pillars of the show which will cause it to crumble.
6. Not use time travel as a crutch or easy way out of plot holes.
Time-traveling shows (like Doctor Who, for instance) often utilize their main conceit in order to write their way out of plot holes. If something is too convoluted or becomes difficult to write, shows rely on the “wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey” nature of it as an excuse. Legends of Tomorrow is already in danger of doing the same thing, as – so far in the series – Rip Hunter has established only vague “rules” of time-travel.
These rules, of course, are purposefully vague, and serve as fail-safes in case the writers need an excuse for a plot hole. Time travel is fun, but can very quickly become a web. In order to become something good, Legends of Tomorrow should establish rules of time travel that are more concrete than “don’t interact with your past self” and “don’t change the timeline” (considering the legends have already broken both of those), and create lasting consequences for those actions. The show, in short, should be unafraid to dabble in the concrete rules of time travel.
5. Figure out a way to balance humor and heart.
One of the reasons that Arrow and The Flash have been such successes is because audiences relate to the humanity they present. For The Flash, one of the most relatable and engaging elements of the series is its humor. In contrast to its sister show, it is generally more lighthearted and is unafraid to utilize jokes, one-liners, and silly situations.
Arrow is a lot less silly, and its comedy is generally a darker, more sarcastic one with the duty of levity generally falling on characters like Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards). In order to become a series that audiences will enjoy, Legends of Tomorrow would benefit from finding the balance between jokes and genuine moments. There are shades of that in the first two episodes (with snarky dialogue from a few of the characters and a moment between Rip and Kendra), but the show will only succeed if more of those occur in the future.
4. Move romance to a backseat… for now.
There is a tendency, whenever new shows begin, is for the writers to try and create a central pairing or “ship” on the show. Legends of Tomorrow has already tried this with the pairing of Hawkman (Falk Hentschel) and Hawkgirl (Ciara Renee) – a pairing that has seemingly fallen quite flat among audiences.
Instead of trying to establish romantic entanglements, Legends of Tomorrow should allow those to happen organically. Romance on television is a formula that is difficult to balance, but – when executed properly – can be the biggest asset in a show’s arsenal. By not forcing romance and focusing instead on time-travel and developing the characters, the show will be better loved by fans and critics alike.
3. Travel to fun places that audiences can’t or won’t see in similar shows.
The most unique element of the series not present in full in Arrow or The Flash is time travel. And while it is possible for a time-traveling series to use its premise as a crutch, it is also possible for the writers of such a show to use it to their advantage. The first two parts of Legends of Tomorrow’s pilot found its characters in the 1970s. As the show progresses, hopefully it will be able to travel to both the past, present, and future.
In utilizing its time-traveling format to its advantage, Legends of Tomorrow will better differentiate itself from its predecessors. There are so many comic book shows on television this season, that it will be necessary for this series to stand apart. If the show can travel to places that audiences won’t see on other series like Arrow, The Flash, or even series like Supergirl and Gotham, it will stand a better chance of doing just that.
2. Develop Hawkgirl and Hawkman better as the central reason for the story, or else integrate them into the ensemble.
Hawkman and Hawkgirl were the reason for Legends of Tomorrow. Vandal Savage had killed Prince Khufu and high priestess Chay-Ara in Ancient Egypt – two lovers who were bound together. When Savage killed Khufu and Chay-Ara, he absorbed their power. And then, the two lovers were reincarnated. Again. And again. All across time and space, Savage has hunted the two, for every time he kills them, he absorbs more and more of their power.
SPOILERS: In the second part of the pilot, Hawkman (also known as Carter) dies alone, leaving Hawkgirl, Kendra, devastated because she barely knew him in this life. Hawkman and Hawkgirl’s love story suffered in the short time it existed, however, because of Carter’s insistence and constant pushing at Kendra. He kept reiterating to her that they had been lovers in former lives – over two hundred of them – and Kendra kept backing away, since in her present life, she had only recently met Carter.
Legends of Tomorrow seems to be progressing toward a better integration if its cast and by killing off Carter (for now) will be able to establish itself as an ensemble series rather than one centered on Hawkman and Hawkgirl. The show will, as time goes on, need to establish either a better central reason for the story, since right now: “Stop Vandal Savage” seems to be the only thing Legends of Tomorrow is focused on, or it will need to develop Hawkman and Hawkgirl so that audiences care more about them.
1. Make the audience emotionally relate to and care about characters other than Rip.
In the first part of its pilot, Legends of Tomorrow did an excellent job of establishing Rip’s emotional motivation for roping the people he did into his mission. He lost his family. Brutally. Vandal Savage didn’t just rip his family away from him, however. The Time Masters – the people whom he trusted and gave his life to – refused to do anything about Savage. And so, Rip Hunter set out on his own through time and space in order to stop Savage through whatever means necessary.
With a cast as large as Legends of Tomorrow, however, it might be tempting to focus more on theatrics, action, and fun. But hopefully the show allows itself the space to showcase the emotional journeys of eight people who voluntarily traveled through space and time with strangers. If DC’s Legends of Tomorrow can manage to establish itself as a separate entity from Arrow and The Flash, it will stand a chance of becoming a good and long-lasting series.
You have any more tips for the fledgling new series? Let us know in the comments!