The year is 2166. The place is London, during The Second Blitz. After millenniums of plotting and planning, an immortal warlord named Vandal Savage has achieved that which Hitler, Napoleon and Alexander only dreamed of – total world domination!
This is a matter of great concern for Rip Hunter – Time Master. He argues to his fellows that Savage’s rule is not something they can tolerate, sworn though they are to protect the integrity of spacetime without altering it themselves. What point is there in protecting time when humanity’s time is up?
To that end, Hunter travels back to the early 21st century and recruits a team to help him thwart Vandal Savage’s plans before they are begun. They are a rag-tag bunch but they possess a variety of skills and powers that make them uniquely suited for the job at hand.
* Professor Martin Stein and Jackson Jefferson – a middle-aged physicist and a twenty year-old mechanic, united by a unique atomic bond that transforms them into something explosive.
* Len Snart and Mick Rory. Two common thieves in possession of uncommon weaponry and dreams of the biggest score of all time. One is cool as ice. The other is a hot-head. Despite their differences, they are an efficient team but they don’t play well with others.
* Sara Lance – a college girl turned assassin by circumstance, she earned a second chance at the hero’s life she thought herself unworthy of living.
* Dr. Ray Palmer – once a giant in the tech world, the rumors of his violent death were greatly exaggerated. Still, the realization of how little his apparent demise changed the world has left him feeling small.
* Carter Hall and Kendra Sanders – two reincarnated lovers, blessed and cursed by the Egyptian god, Horus, whose life forces are tied to that of Vandal Savage. Only one of them can strike the deathblow that can finally end Savage’s unnatural life.
Rip Hunter assures them that he chose them to aid him because they were destined for something greater. That future generations will know them not only as heroes… but as legends. His ship – The Waverider – can take them anywhere and anywhen they need to go. So begins an adventure to save the world… and indeed all of time itself!
Not quite two years ago, the show-runners of a certain super-spy show claimed that it was unrealistic for audiences to expect a short superhero movie every week. That tune changed quickly when The Flash came along, and the marvelous competition has been running themselves ragged trying to catch-up ever since. Based on this two-hour pilot episode, Legends of Tomorrow will be another quantum leap forward.
The script for the pilot is a thing of wonder. While it’s safe to assume that most of the intended audience is already familiar with these characters – most of whom were given establishing story arcs during the current seasons of The Flash and Arrow – the first half of this pilot takes great care in introducing the ensemble and giving you the basic information on who they are and what motivates them. This makes Legends of Tomorrow extraordinarily accessible to potential new viewers, despite the intricate continuity of the DC TV Universe.
The second half of the pilot begins to develop the relationships between the characters by playing with the pairings. Of particular note is the the straight-laced Palmer trying to play babysitter to the iconoclastic Snart after he insists on tagging-along on a heist. Or the usually business-like Rip Hunter’s unexpected moment of compassion when one teammate nearly alters their past irreparably in the name of the greater good.
The excellent writing would mean little, however, without an excellent cast to speak the speeches. And Legends of Tomorrow is blessed with an astonishing ensemble. There isn’t a weak link in the cast and the chemistry between all the players is phenomenal. Of particular note is Caity Lotz, who has finally been given the chance to play a proper, fun-loving Canary reminiscent of Gail Simone’s take on the character. Brandon Routh plays Ray Palmer a littler closer to his comic-book counterpart this time around, with Ray’s famous inferiority complex in play. And Wentworth Miller damn near steals every scene he’s in, smooth as Len Snart knocking over a bank.
The special effects and direction also deserve special praise. The effects work here is cinematic in scope and features some of the best CGI ever seen in a small-screen production. The fight choreography is also top-notch and both elements are blended together flawlessly. Indeed, there is one sequence – in which the team must infiltrate an illegal arms deal – which will draw comparisons to the long-shot fight scene from the original Avengers movie… and be found superior in every respect.
Legends of Tomorrow not only establishes a new benchmark for superhero TV shows, it has set a new standard for what television series as a whole can do. With a unique shared continuity, an amazing ensemble and revolutionary special effects, this show is truly legendary.