NOTE: This guide will be updated with SPOILERS as more minor and central characters are introduced.

When the word first arrived that The CW would be looking to translate the success of Arrow‘s launch of The Flash – and the creation of a shared DC Comics TV universe in the process – into even more spinoff adventures, fans couldn’t come up with ideas fast enough. Would it be another solo hero adventure? Could a lesser-known character like Firestorm sustain a series all by himself? Or would a team like the Suicide Squad be a better fit? The answer was a total surprise, with the network turning to a whole assortment of heroes, allies, and villains. That’s how viewers had known them in the present, at least. But they were apparently also destined to become DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.

For the devoted comic book fans, Arrow and The Flash had only to tease a tiny piece of their character’s backstory, and the years of comic book history being alluded to could be used to round them out. But for fans who have only their TV appearances to go on, the backstories, motivations, and morality may be harder to pin down. Especially since the science fiction/time traveling premise of Legends may wind up attracting viewers who are less than initiated in one CW show or the other.

As a result, we’ve put together a guide of all the characters set to land starring (or supporting) roles in Legends of Tomorrow. We’ll have more extensive looks at the comic book stories behind these TV counterparts coming as well, but first, we hope to help fans get reacquainted with familiar faces, and which members of the team may be best suited to take on a truly heroic role before their journey is done.

Vandal Savage

Legends Tomorrow Vandal Savage Explained DCs Legends of Tomorrow Character Guide

Portrayed by: Casper Crump

First Appearance: The Flash S2E8 “Legends of Today”

Background: We begin, fittingly, with the villain of Legends, the immortal/reincarnating man known as Vandal Savage. He’s a figure who should be familiar to fans of The Flash and Arrow, since he was introduced in the second crossover event between the series, pursuing both Hawkgirl and Hawkman. He even managed to kill nearly the entire cast of both shows, before Barry Allen traveled backwards through time to undo that chain of events, and carry out a better plan. But Vandal wasn’t killed for good. According to the official synopsis for Legends, the year 2166 sees Vandal attain more power than ever before, placing humanity on the brink of destruction. The only way to stop him is to prevent him from ever reaching that point – a challenge that time master Rip Hunter is uniquely trained for. Which means Vandal’s previous plans carried out decades or centuries before may not turn out… quite as he remembers them.

Rip Hunter

legends tomorrow premier episode rip hunter DCs Legends of Tomorrow Character Guide

Portrayed by: Arthur Darvill (Doctor Who)

First Appearance: DC’s Legends of Tomorrow

Background: As the freshest face in The CW’s superhero universe, it’s Rip Hunter who arrives to assemble the team of Legends. As a time master, Rip has witnessed the terrible future that will unravel thanks to Vandal Savage. To help preserve humanity’s future, he collects an assortment of heroes and villains from the beginning of the 21st Century. It’s unclear just how much of the future Rip has seen, or is keeping from his team, with actor Arthur Darvill hinting that his wish to keep the team on “a need to know basis” will make him something of an unreliable leader (on a team filled with them). In the comics, Rip Hunter was just as mysterious, but he was revealed to be just one of the group known as Linear Men – essentially time masters guarding the proper flow of history. We don’t know if that will be modified for the TV show, but his ship – the Waverider – is named for one such time-surfer.

White Canary

White Canary character poster excerpt DCs Legends of Tomorrow Character Guide

Portrayed by: Caity Lotz (Mad Men)

First Appearance: Arrow S1E1 “Pilot”

Background: Having started her role in Arrow as merely a romantic conquest of Oliver Queen’s (initially played by Jacqueline MacInnes Wood), Sara found herself washed off of the sinking yacht, and into a completely different calling. After a lengthy stint on the same brutal island where the Green Arrow was forged, Sara was recruited into the League of Assassins by Nyssa al Ghul, taking the name of ‘Canary.’ She eventually returned to Starling City before being killed as part of Malcolm Merlyn’s own plot to avoid the League’s punishment. But two years later, her sister Laurel Lance transported her corpse to Ra’s al Ghul’s healing Lazarus Pit, resurrecting her body but cursing her with overwhelming bloodlust. John Constantine was called in to help return her wayward soul, but the experience left her in need of a new purpose. Swapping black for white, it seems Sara truly is meant for bigger things than her vigilante friends could ever dream of.

The A.T.O.M.

Atom Legends of Tomorrow Poster DCs Legends of Tomorrow Character Guide

Portrayed by: Brandon Routh (Superman Returns)

First Appearance: Arrow S3E1 “The Calm”

Background: Ray Palmer first stormed onto the scene of Starling City following Oliver Queen’s professional downfall, having Queen Consolidated stolen out from under him. Having first crossed paths with Felicity Smoak (with whom he would eventually carry on a romantic relationship), Palmer then unveiled his successful bid to absorb QC into his own company, Palmer Technologies. But Starling City was more than just a corporate conquest: Ray had lost his fiancée Anna to the superstrong minions of Slade Wilson during his siege of the city. Wishing to take his vengeance upon criminals of all kinds, Ray set about constructing his own armor, known as the A.T.O.M. Exosuit. While experimenting with new upgrades, Ray managed to shrink both himself and the armor to less than an inch. Presumed dead, Ray would eventually return to full size, but allowed the world to think him deceased as he found a new mission, leaving Felicity Smoak in charge of his company.

Captain Cold

Captain Cold Legends of Tomorrow Poster DCs Legends of Tomorrow Character Guide

Portrayed by: Wentworth Miller (Prison Break)

First Appearance: The Flash S1E4 “Going Rogue”

Background: Leonard Snart’s introduction into the world of The Flash marked a watershed moment in the series: when the villains or criminals that The Flash was facing had ambitions that extended beyond murder or carnage. In fact, it wasn’t a superpower or metahuman ability that made him dangerous – not at first – but an aspiration to escalate his game along with the scarlet speedster. After acquiring a Cold Gun engineered within S.T.A.R. Labs (and taking the moniker of ‘Captain Cold’), Snart set out to uncover the true identity of The Flash. Upon learning that he was police scientist Barry Allen, Snart and the hero came to an agreement: Snart would carry out his plans ensuring that no innocent people would be harmed in the process, and The Flash would keep his distance. Knowing that Cold was more of an outlaw than a murderer or monster, the pair forged an uneasy alliance, with the ‘Rogue’ even tipping Allen off to a murderous plot of the Trickster’s. As a firm believer in the idea that “a world destroyed has no wealth left to steal,” his pragmatism – and urge to do the right thing – mean a role as hero could definitely lie in his future.

Heat Wave

Heat Wave Legends of Tomorrow Guide DCs Legends of Tomorrow Character Guide

Portrayed by: Dominic Purcell (Prison Break)

First Appearance: The Flash S1E10 “Revenge of the Rogues”

Background: When Leonard Snart realized that Central City’s new metahuman protector required some bigger guns (literally), it was Mick Rory he turned to first. Knowing of the criminal’s proclivities for fire, he delivered to him a pyromaniac’s weapon of choice: a portable flamethrower known as, simply, a Heat Gun. After a previous job left Rory with half of his body severely burned, Snart seems to wield Rory – nicknamed Heat Wave by Cisco Ramon – as something of a blunt instrument. That isn’t to say the Rory’s intelligence is lacking, or that his loyalty to Snart is fueled by ignorance. Rory is a clever criminal in his own rite, but make no mistake: once the bullets and fire starts flying, Heat Wave is more likely to create carnage than reassess the situation. The smart money says that it’s his allegiance with Snart that will land him a role on Rip Hunter’s team, but who knows? Maybe Heat Wave will prove a practical tool before long.

Hawkgirl

Hawkgirl Legends Tomorrow Guide DCs Legends of Tomorrow Character Guide

Portrayed by: Ciara Renée

First Appearance: The Flash S1E23 “Fast Enough”

Background: When Kendra Saunders moved to Central City, she had no real explanation for what was drawing her to it, simply trusting her instincts, and finding a job at a local coffee shop (and a boyfriend soon after in Cisco Ramon). But Vandal Savage found her all the same, revealing that she was actually Chay-Ara, an ancient Egyptian locked in a homicidal cycle of death and reincarnation. With each new body, Vandal Savage (himself a reincarnated Egyptian mystic) would seek her out, and take her life to gain more power. It was Carter Hall a.k.a. Hawkman a.k.a. Khufu who came to her rescue, her former lover killed with the same blade and destined to seek her out in each new incarnation. The perpetual hunt comes with a bonus, though, as evidenced by the massive magical wings that grow from her back. It’s expected that more of Chay-Ara’s ancient combat skills and knowledge will surface as her memories of past lives return, but for now, ‘Hawkgirl’ is more than capable of supplying the Legends team with aerial support.

Hawkman

Hawkman Legends Tomorrow Guide DCs Legends of Tomorrow Character Guide

Portrayed by: Falk Hentschel

First Appearance: The Flash S2E8 “Legends of Today”

Background: As the other half of the pair of reincarnating lovers, Carter Hall/Khufu/Hawkman is charged with acquiring the couple’s ritual armor and weaponry, and seeking out his newly reincarnated love, wherever she might be. From what was shown in The Flash and Arrow, the centuries of combat experiences come much more easily to Carter, augmented by his enhanced strength and invulnerability (presumably shared with Hawkgirl). Favoring maces and melee weapons over ranged, Hawkman lives up to his name, swooping over and into enemies for an up-close encounter. His methods may be a bit more direct or blunt than those around him would prefer, but if taking a backseat is required to keep himself and Kendra one step ahead of Vandal Savage, then he’s up for the challenge.

Martin Stein

Legends of Tomorrow Firestorm Guide DCs Legends of Tomorrow Character Guide

Portrayed by: Victor Garber (Argo)

First Appearance: The Flash S1E13 “The Nuclear Man”

Background: There was a time when Professor Martin Stein was more interested in exploring experimental physics than fighting crime, but when the S.T.A.R. Labs particle accelerator erupted, his life was forever changed. While onhand at the accelerator, pursuing his own research into Project F.I.R.E.S.T.O.R.M., he was fused with the ghostly form of Ronnie Raymond. The two would spend the next year battling within a single body, wrestling for control of Ronnie’s body and mind. It was only when Caitlin Snow, Ronnie’s fiancée, and Clarissa, Martin’s wife confronted the two that they sought assistance. By developing a quantum ‘splicer,’ the S.T.A.R. Labs team allowed the two men to return to separate forms. But their bond demanded that they merge regularly or face nuclear meltdown. By merging peacefully, the two became ‘Firestorm,’ pyromancer and master of physics. That was, until Ronnie was lost to the singularity over Central City, leaving Martin in need of a new match – with whom he could create a new type of Firestorm…

Jefferson Jackson

Firestorm Jax Jackson Legends of Tomorrow DCs Legends of Tomorrow Character Guide

Portrayed by: Franz Drameh (Edge of Tomorrow)

First Appearance: The Flash S2E4 “The Fury of Firestorm”

Background: Jefferson ‘Jax’ Jackson’s plans of a professional football career were ruined when the particle accelerator’s blast wave send him hurtling into a concrete wall, having spent his time saving others instead of seeking safety himself. The injuries sidelined him permanently, until the S.T.A.R. Labs team informed him that he was a metahuman match for Martin Stein, with whom he could merge to form Firestorm, ‘The Nuclear Man.’ Jax was initially reserved about the idea, but when pushed to accept that he was a hero all along, the pair successfully merged, with Jax’s youthful spirit offering a refreshing, if not necessarily conventional counterpoint to Stein. With a brand new uniform (and the splicer now embedded within it), the two have been gathered by Rip Hunter to put their mastery of fire, flight, and if they stay true to the comics, matter and molecules themselves to work preventing Vandal Savage from plummeting humanity into ruin. In other words, an adventure that truly gives an NFL career a run for its money.

As we said before, this is only a partial list based on official announcements and details. Did we miss any characters you think fans or newcomers will need to acquaint (or reacquaint) themselves with? Have additional details that should be included? Share them in the comments, and we’ll update the guide with new information, images, and characters as the show gets underway.

Legends of Tomorrow will premiere on The CW Thursday, January 21, 2016.

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