While Disney/Marvel have been building the all conquering media franchise of the Avengers universe, and Fox have been milking their X-Men license for all its worth, The CW has quietly been building its own franchise of DC superheroes, and like all things The CW does, it’s cheaper and cheesier than anyone else’s.
It started with Arrow, which I dismissed as a cheap Batman knock-off based on the pilot and never went back to. Then The Flash appeared and although the pilot wasn’t bad, there wasn’t enough there to make my cut. Now we get Legends of Tomorrow, which is the “ensemble” entry into the franchise. Hey, it somewhat surprisingly worked for Guardians of the Galaxy – the underdog and bonkers entry into the Marvel franchise. It could work for Legends of Tomorrow right?
Heavens it was rubbish.
Concept wise, it’s fine. I mean it’s a bit insane, but I don’t let that stop much. Bad things happen to Earth in the future and a renegade Time Cop (yup, one of them) goes back to collect a bunch of third rate heroes from the present day. They initially think they’ve been recruited because they are destined to be legends, but (spoiler alert) in fact they’ve been recruited because of the opposite. They have no noticeable impact on the timelines, therefore they can’t break things if they fail.
The ensemble is where things get off to a poor start. There’s a lot of them and it’s just not a very charismatic bunch. They’re introduced at haste which sort of works and moves things along at a nice pace, and I guess several of them have been brought over from Arrow or Flash. But no one jumps out as someone you want to spend more time with. There are a couple of big names in the cast – Wentworth Miller (Prison Break), Victor Garbor (Alias) and Brandon Routh who used to be Superman and is now in a spin-off of a spin-off on the CW!? Seriously, what went wrong with his career! The most stand-out, partly by nature his central know all role is Arthur Darvill (Rory from Doctor Who) playing the time cop Rip Hunter (yes, Rip Hunter. that’s really his name) who talks fast, heaps on the sarcasm and manages to wade through the script to find some semblance of personality. The rest of the cast though are pretty much unknown and it really shows at times. Yes, the script they’re struggling with doesn’t give them much, but there was some painfully inept acting going on.
I’m sure that my lack of knowledge of the whole Arrow/Flash universe didn’t help this series, but even without seeing that, it felt like a collection of bit-part characters being brought back to milk the franchise. You’d think in a crowded ensemble there would be space to hide, but in fact the opposite is true. The weak links in the group are already bringing the rest of the group down. Legends of Tomorrow is aiming for Guardians of the Galaxy with it’s bunch of misfits with dubious morals, quirky soundtrack and non-stop story. But it just doesn’t have the charisma and so it misses its mark, maybe not by a million miles, but it’s enough and it lands flat on its ass.