Tag: legends of tomorrow (Page 1 of 2)

DC's Legends of Tomorrow Landscape Poster

What is the ‘Justice Society of America?’

What is going on with the CW’s super heroes and the Justice Society of America?

SPOILERS FOR DC’S LEGENDS OF TOMORROW AND THE FLASH FINALES

If you watched DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, as I did, you were treated to a who’s who of minor DC Comics characters: Firestorm, Jonah Hex, even Sergeant Rock showed up for a minute (and was killed!).

But one moment that probably meant absolutely nothing for most people, and was a disappointment to most comic fans, was at the very end of the season finale, when we were assured that a beloved DC icon would show up.

And it was Rex Tyler, Hourman.

Hourman is a minor DC Comics character who has a special serum that, when injected, gives him powers for 60 minutes. So, if nothing else, he has to wrap things up pretty quickly. Now, I wasn’t that interested in Hourman, frankly. I’m sure that this will change soon, but if you’re at a comic book convention, you’re never going to see a cosplay Hourman.

 

 

 

But there were a couple of interesting things about Hourman. For instance — and this doesn’t happen much on the CW — he was wearing, basically, his costume from the comics  and he name-checked the “JSA,” the Justice Society of America. Now, even if you don’t know the name, you probably know the Justice League of America: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Martian Manhunter, and maybe a few other lessor heroes. But the Justice Society of America is, as far as I can tell, Geoff Johns super hero team, and I think they might be assembling them on the CW.

Who the hell is Geoff Johns?

He used to be Superman director Richard Donner’s assistant. He started writing comics— including the Justice Society of America— and is now one of the creative directors in charge of the DC Universe, including films, TV and comics. So he actually wrote the pilot of The Flash TV series and consults on the show with Greg Berlanti, who created Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash and Supergirl.

Geoff Johns used to write a JSA series with David Goyer, who wrote all the Dark Knight movies, Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. Hell, Goyer wrote the made-for-TV Nick Fury movie with David Hasselhoff! Anyway, my point is that there are a lot of power players in the current DC Universe who love the Justice Society of America. I don’t know if they’re working toward a made-for-TV movie or what, but I think something is happening.

By the way, I agree with Media Medusa’s evisceration of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow for the most part, even though I still like the show. I thought the most interesting part of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow was the broad strokes. For instance, the show was so dumb that I didn’t see its clever moments coming up, like Heat Wave turning out to be Chronos. But DC’s Legends of Tomorrow might be the only show I’ve ever seen where the studio interference, the broad strokes, turned out to be the best part.

There were a lot of fun moments on the show, but also a lot of missed opportunities.

Like, when Hawkgirl and the Atom were trapped in the ‘50s for over a year, I would have liked to have seen them have an adventure! And I love Captain Cold, but, man, the character choices made by the actor playing him are weird, weird, weird. And it seems like Heat Wave is taking acting lessons from him.

 


Rip Hunter, Captain Cold and Heat Wave on ‘DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’

 

Anyway, Hourman shows up (it’s the guy from Suits) and I was thinking, oh, well, Hourman. Who knows? Maybe they’ll make it interesting. I certainly wasn’t a big Ant-Man fan and that movie was great. You never know what they’re going to do with second-tier characters.

But then, something else interesting happened.

If you watch The Flash, you know that they’ve been ruining the good name of one of my favorite characters of all time — Jay Garrick, the golden age Flash — by making him the bad guy, Zoom. At the end of the season, it came out that Zoom wasn’t Jay Garrick, and that Jay had been his prisoner all season. And then, Jay came out in full-on Flash costume and ran off to parts unknown on Earth 2! Jay Garrick, golden age Flash!

 


The Flash and Zoom

 

My Justice Society of America radar suddenly went bonkers. That’s two members of the Justice Society of America showing up in two different CW season finales! Now, I know that the CW is trying hard not to be “The Super Hero Network,” but let’s face it, they have a lot of super hero shows that are doing well for them.

(This doesn’t have to do with anything, but that golden age Flash outfit didn’t do John Wesley Shipp any favors. He’s in really great shape and that thing draped on him like he was hiding a beer gut. I hope that they work on that before the Justice Society of America tele-movie.)

Let’s talk about who the Justice Society of America are.

The Justice Society of America were the FIRST super hero team, and have literally been around since 1940, beating the Fantastic Four and Avengers into existence by more than 20 years. (Wonder Woman was introduced in one of their books!)

Obviously, with any super hero team that has been around for any length of time, there are going to be a lot of different iterations. So, basically, we have a lot of choices who could be on the Justice Society of America.

  • Two obvious choices are Hawkman and Hawkgirl, who were both on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.
  • Jay Garrick Flash is sitting around the Justice round table in Issue #1;  he was on The Flash.
  • Hourman (DC’s Legends of Tomorrow) has been in a lot of different iterations.
  • Black Canary (who is currently dead on Arrow, as have been so many super heroes so many times before her) is a founding member of the Justice Society of America as Dinah Drake, who I think is related to current Black Canary, Dinah Lance. (Remember Silk Spectre from Watchmen? Her and her mother were very Black Canary-esque.)
  • And Michael Holt, the other computer genius on Arrow, is Mr. Terrific, a fun member of the new Justice Society of America.

There are others I can think of, but the point is that it would not be difficult to build a reasonably decent Justice Society of America from the current CW roster. And you know who would be perfect for the Justice Society of America as a guest star? Supergirl. The JSA are all about hope.

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Why does the JSA matter?

Well, it’s probably because I’m old and care about such things. But the thing that DC does better than Marvel is the idea of Legacy. Why does Batman train Robin? Because Batman is going to die someday and he’ll need someone to take over his legacy. I can count four different guys who have been Green Lantern without even thinking hard about it, and at least five different speedsters in the Flash family.

The Justice Society of America are the originals, the wise parents who give counsel and, when necessary, kick the asses of young people. If Matlock was a super hero, he would be in the JSA. One of my favorite characters in history is Wildcat from the Justice Society of America, a.k.a. Ted Grant, who trained just about every good fighter in the DC Universe, up to and including Batman. There was a Ted Grant on Arrow who never quite worked, but Wildcat Ted Grant, who is much older, could be his dad or something. Legacy!

I’m a little worried that Greg Berlanti is going to explode if he takes on any more responsibilities.

It’s time for him to find his David Greenwalt, a trusted confederate who can take over a show (Greenwalt took over Angel for Joss Whedon, to mixed reviews). I think that Arrow is really good, but is showing some signs that the mastermind isn’t really keeping his eye on the ball, like this season’s flashback story. If anything lifts right out, it’s DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. But I still think that they kind find something good in that show because, again, there were some great moments. And they have some amazing actors, like Victor Garber, who deserves better.

So who knows if there’s even room for another show? And this is all guesswork on my part. It just seems strange to me that they would take the final moments of the season finales of two CW shows to introduce two different Justice Society of America characters. It probably means something.

Who are the Justice Society of America?

DC's Legends of Tomorrow Season 1

‘DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’ Lost My Loyalty

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season 1 was awful. The show needs a makeover. The CW superhero show started off with a lot of promise and hype, but completely wasted it. DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season 1 ended with less of a bang, and more of a sigh of relief. Along the way, two regular cast members were cut, which is never a good sign. Season 2 will be just as awful if there’s not a complete turnover in the writer’s room.

Let’s examine what was wrong with DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season 1.

SPOILER ALERT

Lack of commitment.

Holy prevarication, Batman! I can’t even remember how many times a character committed to doing something — sacrificing himself, loving someone, jumping ship — and then took it back, even within the same episode.

When characters do a complete 180° on a decision, especially one that has high stakes, it not only diminishes that action, but also erodes our suspension of disbelief; the next time the character makes a big decision, we are less likely to believe it will happen. In essence, the more times a show has takebacks, the less impact it has in any scene.

The writers on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season 1 have no idea how to craft a high-stakes story. Their wings are clipped, because they can’t kill anyone. (Except they should have. See the end of this review for more.) But that doesn’t mean they can’t make the consequences of a decision incredibly scary or painful or emotional. Death isn’t the only horrible consequence that can befall someone. What about loss of love, loss of honor or loss of trust? For those losses to have any impact, however, you must spend a length of time building up to it. Clearly, that never occurred to DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season 1 writers, because they had almost no plan at all.

For instance, Kendra wrestled with whether or not to marry Ray. She finally made her decision to go all in. A couple of episodes later, Carter returns — the dude she’s destined to be with — and  she immediately reverses her commitment. So, all the rest was for nothing? Wouldn’t it have been a much more powerful story if, after seeing the man she’s loved for thousands of years, she still stuck with Ray?

 Pictured (L-R): Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer/Atom and Ciara Renee as Kendra Saunders/Hawkgirl

Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer/Atom and Ciara Renee as Kendra Saunders/Hawkgirl

Here’s another example, again involving poor Kendra. (She was probably the most poorly written character on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.) The entire premise of the show is that the team needs to kill Vandal Savage, but the only one who can do it is Kendra. So, instead of spending the season building up to an amazing battle between them, Kendra meets Savage in several episodes, and he just swats her away like an annoying fly. The result is that we no longer believe she can kill him. In fact, she didn’t seem like the warrior she was supposed to be at all. When she FINALLY has the right weapon and is up against him, when she FINALLY gets her shot, she decides not to kill him, in order to save her destined lover. We hadn’t even seen that guy in several episodes. And she had already pledged herself to Ray. And, Carter would have wanted her to kill Savage, no matter what. Talk about flaccid.

The season finale had several instances when a character took back their impassioned decision.  For example, it seemed like Rip Hunter was going to sacrifice himself to save the planet, by driving his ship, which held an exploding meteorite, into the sun. Turns out, he was able to just chuck it into the fire and come back. No biggie.

The absolute worst scene for dramatic takeback in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season 1 was in the penultimate episode. Ray decides he’s going to sacrifice himself to save everyone else, by staying behind and holding the button that will make the oculus explode. (Or something like that.) While he’s holding down the button, Mick comes up behind him, smashes him on the head and takes his place. Now, Mick’s decided to sacrifice himself to save everyone else. That actually made sense, because Mick is kind of a bad guy and Ray is a good guy. However, not long after that, Leonard bashes Mick on the head and takes his place, and — wait for it — decides he’s going to sacrifice himself to save everyone else. It was like I was watching a parody video, not a TV show episode that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to make. Granted, Ray and Mick didn’t take back their decisions willingly, but the situation was still rendered benign by the repetition.

There are no high stakes, just stakes.

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season 1 writers seemed to have boxed themselves in when they chose Vandal Savage as the big bad guy for their story arc. He’s powerful; he can time-travel; and he’s immortal. But, let’s compare DCs Legends of Tomorrow to Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which also had an all-powerful, seemingly immortal villain this season. Wow, what a difference. Where S.H.I.E.L.D. spent several episodes poking at the monster, trying to find its weaknesses, discovering its strengths, and giving us clues as to how it might be defeated, Legends waited until the last episode and just surprised us with the solution. You have to earn those moments, or they mean nothing.

 

 

Nearly every episode of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season 1 had our heroes going up against Savage, only to be defeated. They kept fighting him the same way over and over, so we lost interest. Sure, we caught a glimpse of that fatal meteorite several episodes before the finale, but there wasn’t even a hint that it was tied to Savage somehow. If we had gotten more of an exploration of that rock, its powers, what it might do to the planet or to Savage, we would have been curious to see where the story led. There would have been, what they call in the biz, exploration and discovery.

When every single episode is “the world is at stake,” pretty soon, we don’t care. You need to build up to “the world is at stake,” with small successes, small failures, and some creativity wouldn’t hurt.

Every character has the same voice.

These characters should have been very different from each other, with their own motivations, and histories that inform their actions. What wound up happening on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow was that they were all the same. In any given episode, you could take lines of dialogue and put them into any character’s mouth with no difference.

Part of the reason the characters all sounded the same was that none of them were given anything to do. DC’s Legends of Tomorrow was more like a soap opera than a drama, in that the majority of dialogue was spent trying to talk someone out of a seemingly heroic, but ultimately stupid, decision. Sure, we had a little side drama between Mick and Leonard, and Ray and Kendra, but those stories went nowhere and meant nothing.

The only characterization any of them had came from external cues. For instance, we knew Ray was square because Mick called him “Haircut.” We knew the professor was nerdy, because the other characters teased him about it. We knew Leonard was shady, because other characters referred to his criminal past. If the characters hadn’t jabbed at one another, we would have known very little about them. Rather than having their actions or their choices speak for them, it was other characters who gave them their identity.

Arthur Darvill needs to stop speechifying.

In my previous commentary on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, I complained — a lot — about Arthur Darvill’s portrayal of Time Master Rip Hunter. I’m going to do it some more. Every line, every scene, every everything he delivers is done in the same stance, at the same pitch, and with the same tone. Step 1: Turn sideways and look over your shoulder at the other person to whom you are speaking. Step 2: Lower chin and look at them from under your eyebrows. Step 3: Give lines in rapid fire mode, occasionally glancing to the side, as if you are considering something else. Optional: Bring both hands up, as if you are holding a box, then raise and lower them to make your point.

Rip Hunter and Ray Palmer in DC's Legends of Tomorrow

Arthur Darvill as Rip Hunter and Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer in ‘DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’

Yes, Rip is cocky. But man, this ain’t no cartoon. That Firefly-wannabe duster with the collar flipped up told us that. Show us something else! Hawk Girl didn’t have much to do, except swoon between swains, but at least she showed some different flavors.

I’m going to stop there, because I think you get my point.

Too many characters? No, just lack of creativity.

One could argue that there were just too many big characters on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season 1 to make it work. Again, I point to Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which is able to balance screen time for characters beautifully. And put them to good use.

In fact, the writers wasted an enormous opportunity in the season finale of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season 1. They knew actress Ciara Renée was leaving the show. Instead of splitting up the team into three different times, like they did, and having Savage killed by three different characters, they could have sacrificed Kendra in big-time drama.

This whole season, all we’ve heard is that Kendra has to be the one to kill Savage. What they should have done is, in the finale, incapacitate the rest of the team, and have Kendra (finally) go up against Savage alone. In the battle, mortally wound Kendra, but have her kill Savage when he lets his guard down. Or something like that.  Ta da! Huge pay-off, and a great way to send off the character and the actress.

Of course, that’s not what they did. Could the ending have been any lamer? Rip: “So, let’s all get back on board and keep on keeping on. I’m sure there are timeline problems to fix somewhere.” Kendra: “Oh, hey, me and Carter aren’t doing to do that. We decided to go build a nest and lay eggs. See ya around!” [Hawk people fly away.] My jaw literally dropped at that horrible, stupid, lame-ass scene. What a waste.

Season 2 needs to get better.

The only reason I keep watching DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is because it’s painful for me not to watch a superhero show. But after Season 1, I don’t know if I can bring myself to watch any more.

Read our brutal review of 'DC's Legends of Tomorrow' Season 1

‘DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’ Review: What Needs to be Fixed

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is so close to living up to the hype that was set up by its sister shows, The Flash and Arrow. But a few key factors keep it from gelling. We’re seven episodes into the season, and it will most likely be renewed for next season. But for DC’s Legends of Tomorrow to be a hit, here’s what needs to happen.

Look into My Eyes

It’s not Arthur Darvill’s (the actor) fault I hate Rip Hunter (the character). Well, maybe it is. Y’know how there are high school teachers, whose very facial expressions and mannerisms, make you want to jab a No. 2 pencil in both eyes until they bleed out? That’s how I feel about Rip Hunter.

Arthur Darvill as Rip Hunter. Photo: Dean Buscher/© 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Arthur Darvill as Rip Hunter. Photo: Dean Buscher/© 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Try this drinking game the next time you’re watching DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Take a drink every time Rip looks at someone full on in the face. Not sideways. Not from under his brows. Two drinks if he looks down his nose at someone. Guess what? You’re stone cold sober.

Arthur Darvill’s entire repertoire of characterization for Rip Hunter is to put a hand in the pocket of his trench coat, stand perpendicular to his subject, drop his chin, and pierce them with a gaze that comes from under his eyebrows. To mix it up, sometimes he leans in a little.

It’s been said that I’m especially tetchy about people’s physical habits. I try to ignore repetitive mannerisms in order to enjoy a story. But Rip pushes all my buttons. I actually play the game I described above, minus the alcohol. I wait, with giddy anticipation, to see his chin pop up, even the slightest bit, so that his eyelids will become their own body parts and not unwilling underbellies to his eyebrows.

Maybe if the writers gave him more to do than speechifying, Darvill’s range would flex a little.

Use It or Lose It

The biggest attraction to DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is just that: It’s big. The show has eight — EIGHT — main characters. Most of those characters were introduced on The Flash or Arrow, so we already knew them a little. But these eight characters are not being used to their full potential.

Look at a show like Firefly. That show had several main characters, and Joss Whedon used them well. Not only did he balance their screen time, he maintained their unique voices. Each character got a spotlight at some point in every episode. Each one brought something unique to the story. They fit together like a beautiful story puzzle.

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow should be more like Firefly. Each character has a special moment in each episode, but those special moments aren’t necessarily building blocks for the overall story, or even for that character. I know Legends can’t a ton of time on backstory and needs to get on with the team’s story, the action, but there are a lot of missed opportunities.

For instance, we spent a lot of time getting to know Hawkgirl, but now she’s been relegated to set decoration. She now remembers her past lives, but she’s not portrayed as much of a warrior. Her strength, her experiences, should add to the through line. Meanwhile, she’s only left to smile or whine, alternatively. Seeing Hawkgirl as a strong leader would be much more interesting.

Another example is that we’re beginning to see conflict between Snart and Mick, but do we need to? Their friendship was one of the most interesting aspects of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Their friendship is informed by the fact that the actors, Wentworth Miller (Snart) and Dominic Purcell (Mick), worked together previously on Prison Break, and are friends in real life. Their banter, their disregard for the team’s mission, was highly entertaining. Now they’re fighting and it’s confusing. I know a story needs conflict, but isn’t that what the bad guys are for? (More on that below.)

Pictured (L-R): Arthur Darvill as Rip Hunter, Wentworth Miller as Leonard Snart/Captain Cold and Dominic Purcell as Mick Rory/Heat Wave. Photo: Cate Cameron/© 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Pictured (L-R): Arthur Darvill as Rip Hunter, Wentworth Miller as Leonard Snart/Captain Cold and Dominic Purcell as Mick Rory/Heat Wave. Photo: Cate Cameron/© 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow has a cast full of great actors, not the least of which is Victor Garber. The actors and the characters are going to waste. Very quickly, they’ve all begun to sound the same. (Just like Arrow, but that deserves its own post.)

Few of them are competent in action. Boring. Few of them are really on board with the mission. Boring. All of them spend a lot of time bickering and whining. Boring! Give them more to do.

We Don’t Need Another Hero

So, we’ve got a shipful of heroes, but who are they fighting? I think it’s supposed to be Vandal Savage, but we don’t see him very much. And when we do, he gives us the same speech over and over.

DC's Legends of Tomorrow -- "Pilot, Part 2" -- Image LGN102_20150917_0413b.jpg -- Pictured: Casper Crump as Vandal Savage -- Photo: Diyah Perah/The CW -- © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Casper Crump as Vandal Savage/© 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Stories, especially superhero stories, need good antagonists. Vandal Savage could be a great villain, but we see too little of him, and we see only one side of him. Rarely have we seen him in quieter moments. We need to discover what’s driving him, where he’s vulnerable. He loves Chay-ara (Hawkgirl)? Let’s see his attempt to woo her. He’s immortal? How interesting! Let’s see more about his experiences. Instead, he’s just an imperturbable power our heroes keep slamming up against.  Again, boring.

Plus, we keep hearing about these Time Masters, and how Rip is a wanted man. I can only assume they’re as bored with him as I am, because we’ve only seen them come after Rip once. We keep seeing a bounty hunter, but he only pops up when something is about to go right. Then he shoots off a missile and our crew is thrown off course. Again. The Time Masters and the bounty hunter add up to ineffectual bad guys, who just muddy the storyline.

It’s a Trap!

The most recent episode of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, “Marooned,” employed a storytelling device that the other CW superhero shows use: The Flashback. (No surprise, considering Greg Berlanti is the executive producer of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Arrow and The Flash, as well as Supergirl, on CBS.)

While The Flashback is a seemingly harmless way of telling us more about a character’s backstory, it can become a crutch. Arrow desperately needs to drop Oliver’s flashback sequences. In the beginning of the show, it was a very effective way of showing us how Oliver became the Green Arrow. The flashbacks juxtaposed his present life with his past in powerful, sometimes ironic, scenes. After he escaped the island, however, it was time to let that device go and focus on the current story. Now, those damn flashbacks are nothing but fillers. They reveal nothing new or interesting.

I am worried DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is headed in the same direction. While The Flashback can serve a purpose, sometimes it’s a lazy way of telling us about a character. Let the character’s backstory and personality come through in their choices, their dialogue. Give these characters unique voices, and we’ll get to know them just fine. Give them more to do.

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