I’m not the first to admit it, and I certainly won’t be the last: I just don’t care for DC movies. Nothing about the desolate grittiness catches me. Sifting through the wreckage of a city to find seldom shafts of humor and hope does not appeal to me. Superheroes deal with heavy shit. Believe me, I get that. But we’re also talking about a millionaire playboy who dresses up as a bat and an alien whose idea of a disguise is a pair of glasses.
But DC’s small screen ventures?
For someone who hasn’t exactly been interested in the DC franchise, I’ve certainly grown up on a lot of DC related TV. Teen Titans still holds a firm spot in my heart, and I’ll continue to argue its merits into the foreseeable forever. My graduation from animated series into the current run of superhero live action has kept the momentum going. Arrow and The Flash have come to be rather outstanding pieces of television, grappling with humanity and compassion and the repercussions of action in a way that I’ve never found in the film franchise. The cohesion of the television world plays a role in the enjoyment factor, and with the film franchise beginning their journey to one universe through the movies, who knows–maybe they’ll hit a stride that matches my own. I don’t think it’s that, though.
One paramount difference between the shows and the movies is the levity. The films are dark, twisted, and destructive. Hope is hard to come by and has a tendency to be denied to our main superheroes. They play the line of desperation, and they play it well. They also play it consistently, and, well, it’s just not my thing.
Arrow starts off much in this groove, all hidden faces and brutal murder and raspy insults, complete with a pessimistic tortured playboy-turned-vigilante. Oliver Queen crawled off of his island and proved relatable to the big screen superheroes DC was prone to develop. Angsty Oliver seemed to fit the mold, but with sprawling episodes instead of a 2 1/2 hour chunk, we really had time to explore the backstory of other characters, bringing a new lightness and multiple points of view to the traditional tortured hero. It was a step away from the aspects I find unappealing in the film properties, tuned by a much heavier sense of external morality, turned to face the lighter side of the hero spectrum.
With the advent of The Flash, viewers followed the superhero genre further into the more fun side of having powers. Now, I say fun–and I do think Flash is rather fun–but fun in a way that takes its message of responsibility and power and everything Flash stands for (which is quite a bit) while recognizing that it is a show about a guy who was literally hit by lightning and granted super speed. These characters face tragedy. The city is broken and in great peril. Barry struggles with huge, life-changing challenges. Yet we don’t get to feel desolate. The upbeat optimism allows the show to go deep without sacrificing the fun. Without sacrificing the hope. That, to me, is The Flash’s biggest superpower.
Now, just as Arrow was the precursor to Flash’s introduction, the two shows have been setting the stage for DC’s newest spin-off, Legends of Tomorrow. The show will follow a very interesting group of characters Arrow & Flash fans are familiar with as they’re recruited to help save the future–not as heroes, but as legends. Led by the rogue time-traveler (“Time Master” as he calls himself) Rip Hunter, this ragtag team embarks on a mission to stop this unstoppable threat.
In the year 2166, the immortal villain Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) is on the verge of his final victory – total chaos and the utter destruction of humanity. As the world crumbles, the Time Master Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) takes matters into his own hands; he travels 150 years into the past to assemble a carefully selected team of heroes and rogues to stop him. Hunter has chosen what seems like an ill-matched group: billionaire inventor Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh), who has created an exo-suit with the power to shrink him to miniscule size, as the Atom; Sara Lance (Caity Lotz), the White Canary, a trained assassin; Professor Martin Stein (Victor Garber) and Jefferson “Jax” Jackson (Franz Drameh), who together form the meta-human Firestorm; Leonard Snart (Wentworth Miller), known as Captain Cold, and his partner Mick Rory (Dominic Purcell), AKA Heat Wave, a pair of career criminals; and Kendra Saunders (Ciara Renée) and Carter Hall (Falk Hentschel) AKA Hawkgirl and Hawkman. Together this unlikely group will attempt to stop one of the most formidable villains of all time, while they must learn how to not only be a team, but heroes as well. Glen Winter directed the episode written by Marc Guggenheim & Phil Klemmer and Greg Berlanti & Andrew Kreisberg (#101).
Take a look at some newly released footage to get a feel for how Legends of Tomorrow is going to play out.
There’s no denying it–though the threat is imminent and on a much larger scale than either Arrow or Flash present, this premise teeters on the edge of ridiculous, throwing together a group of extremely strong-willed characters like one of those desperate reality shows. Shit’s going to go down, these characters are going to clash in the most beautiful ways, and viewers should be prepared to strap in for a whole lot of fun. People are already surmising that this could be DC’s version of Guardians of the Galaxy with a dash of Doctor Who (fittingly enough, it’s Arthur Darvill in the role of time traveler Rip Hunter), and that diagnosis simply serves to make everyone even more excited for the January 21st launch date.
If you’re holding your breath in anticipation, as I am, here’s another trailer that’s filled to the brim with absurdity and action. And Captain Cold. Because he’s the best. Not that I’m biased or anything.