'DC's Legends of Tomorrow': Ray Palmer/Atom's Team Role Explained

DC's Legends of Tomorrow - Ray Palmer as Atom (Brandon Routh)

When Arrow and The Flash return to The CW with all-new adventures, the two comic book shows will being doing much more than just focusing on their own narratives; they'll also be building the hype for The CW's next DC comic book show, DC's Legends of Tomorrow.

While Arrow and The Flash both make it clear who leads the shows - Stephen Amell's Oliver Queen and Grant Gustin's Barry Allen, respectively - Legends of Tomorrow is taking a different approach by forming a brand new team of heroes and villains. At the time of writing this, it hasn't been made clear who will lead the group or hog a little more of the spotlight than the others. However, given the character's role in the CW universe (and his personality), many fans believe it may be Brandon Routh's Ray Palmer, a.k.a. Atom, who leads the team on its various missions.

When we interviewed executive producer/showrunner Phil Klemmer at San Diego Comic-Con 2015, he elaborated on Ray Palmer's role - and personality - in Legends of Tomorrow. Despite having his heart broken by Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards), Palmer has remained one of the most positive and optimistic characters in Arrow's Starling City. Klemmer said the hero will retain his cheery and motivated personality, but whether or not Palmer will become the leader is a whole different story:

"I don’t think Ray is traditionally ambitious. I mean I think he would want to be a leader just because he’s sort of that go-getter. I don’t think he has any sort of like Game of Thrones… He’s a guileless person. He plays his cards. He does not hold them close. I think when our team is assembled in this pilot, I think Ray is sort of like the cheerleader. Obviously Stein wants to travel in time because he’s a nuclear physicist…I think Ray is the sort of guy who is…he’s kind of like a Labrador retriever. It’s just like if you throw a ball, he’s going to run after it. And other members of the team are rightfully wary. They sort of recognize Rip’s offer to just take a little trip back in the past and kill Vandal Savage and save the world. It sounds simple. It’s clearly not going to be simple. But Ray is the sort of guy who will take people at face value because that’s how he sort of goes through the world: choosing to believe."

Considering the team consists of a resurrected member of the League of Assassins (White Canary), two villains (Captain Cold and Heat Wave), a transmutated nuclear physicist (Firestorm), and a person now learning that she's had past lives (Hawkgirl), it's fitting that Ray will serve as the enthusiastic member of the newfound team - one who will happily accept Rip Hunter's mission and attempt to inspire the team to follow through with it. He may possibly remain optimistic longer than his teammates, but that doesn't exactly mean he'd want to promote himself as their leader and be the one to make the difficult calls. Based on Klemmer's comments, it looks like Palmer may view himself as a team player - not the team's captain.

DC Legends of Tomorrow CW

If Atom doesn't step up to the plate and lead his new allies, who will? Rip Hunter may be the one telling them what they must do, but what about when the team is in the field, battling Vandal Savage's forces? Seeing as there are so many different personalities - it's easy to picture Captain Cold and Heat Wave getting into arguments with everyone, or White Canary not standing for any nonsense - it's very possible there won't be anyone serving as the leader of the team (for a majority of the time, anyway).

The title of leader may shift around based on whatever the mission calls for. If they need to steal something from Savage, Captain Cold, and Heat Wave may have the opportunity to call the shots. If they need to use stealth, they could turn to White Canary. If it involves advantaged technology, everyone may turn to Palmer and Firestorm. So on and so on. Each character brings different advantages to the team, and it seems like just one of Palmer's strengths will be the ability to motivate the team to stick together. That will surely prove critical given all of the drastically different personalities on the team - and the challenges Vandal Savage will throw their way.

NEXT: DC's Legends of Tomorrow Showrunner Discusses the Series' Ensemble Structure

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.

DuckTales season 2 SDCC
DuckTales Season 2 SDCC Trailer & Poster: A Disney Afternoon Reunion

More in TV News