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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Legends of Tomorrow S2 adds Legion of Doom

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One of the biggest stories of superhero TV in 2015 was the rise of Legends of Tomorrow, the first team superhero TV show to be produced in live action and not cut together from repackage Japanese TV like Power Rangers.  The first season was a pretty big hit, working through some ups and downs to deliver a fun and action packed family adventure show in the vein of Doctor Who or Power Rangers but starring a dynamic and unique team of lovable and engaging heroes. 

Now it’s season 2 time which raises a slew of questions, most especially because season 1 was so tied to defeating the immortal tyrant Vandal Savage and, spoilers, that’s what the team did at the end of that season.  This has raised the question of what season 2 will be about but the first details are now filtering through and, aside from a pretty interesting synopsis, the big news is that Legends of Tomorrow season 2 will feature the Legion of Doom as their new antagonists. 

Before I dive into the Legion of Doom, the greatest super villain team of all time, let’s take a look at the synopsis.  According to CW, the new season will be based around the Legends of Tomorrow ending up scattered through time forcing the charming and unconventional historian Nate Heywood (played by Nick Zano) to find the team.  

I’m not sure exactly how the team got lost in time though this description definitely seems to suggest the opening of season 2 won’t directly pick-up on the cliff hangar ending of season 1 with Hourman and the Justice Society of America. 

What seems most likely, as Rip Hunter is also listed as missing, is that Heywood, a future superhero himself and grandson of Justice Society member Commander Steel, will be left with possession of the Wave Rider time ship and forced to scour the time stream in search of the Legends.  

That basically makes this a repackaging of the classic DC Comics Justice League/Justice Society team-up In Search of the Seven Soldiers of Victory, in which the two teams had to recover time lost heroes from throughout history.  The story is considered one of the greatest team-ups of DC’s Silver Age and was the first major superhero event to be punctuated by a dramatic death when the Red Tornado android sacrificed himself to save the universe in Justice League #100. 

If that is the case it does the raise the question of how the Legion of Doom will factor into the proceedings.  My suspicion is that time travel shenanigans will be involved given the immortal and timeless nature of most of the Legion of Doom’s members.  Where the original Legion of Doom, forming out of the Super Friends TV show and then migrating to the mainstream comics, was basically just a team of everyone’s archenemies, this new team is a bizarre hodgepodge of mastermind villains.  

The team is so far comprised solely of returning villains like Reverse Flash or Merlin/Ras Al Ghul but almost everyone assembled is free from the constraints of time in some way, which is the perfect opportunity to dive into the members of the Legion of Doom.

The longest lasting villain on the team, Barrowman’s “evil guy” role has been a factor on Arrow as far back as season 1.  What his actual villain identity IS is a little screwy but for the most part he seems to be a fusion of Batman foe Ras Al Ghul and Green Arrow archenemy Merlin.  

Traditionally Merlin has been a servant of Ras Al Ghul, acting as one of the assassins in the Sensei’s Seven Men of Death but Arrow has put a weird spin on things.  Now, Ras Al Ghul is a titled passed down through various leaders of the League of Assassins, though the league does have access to the Lazarus Pits. 

Barrowman seems to have initially been a villainous bowman ala Merlin but eventually moved in to take the Ras Al Ghul mantel and now leads the league.  I’m not sure how all of that will coalesce for Legends of Tomorrow but his seeming immortality could make him a good villain for any given time period, or he could just be an excuse to set an episode or two in the modern era.  

More importantly, I believe Barrowman still has Vandal Savage’s ashes from the end of the 2015 Flash/Arrow crossover so I wouldn’t be surprised if those popped up in the plot somewhere. 

Matt Letscher is The Flash’s secret weapon.  He appeared very briefly in The Flash season 1 as the original version of the Reverse Flash before getting a solo episode in season 2.  Now he’s set to be a primary supporting character in season 3 and a main villain of Legends of Tomorrow, which is great because this guy is incredible.  

Tom Cavanagh portrayed Reverse Flash for most of season 1 and as much as I love him Letchser’s take on Reverse Flash is every bit his excellent equal.  Letscher imbues the character with an unhinged, rampantly narcissistic menace that’s an absolute delight and never feels like a retread of Cavanagh’s work.  The fact we’ll be getting so much more of this guy in the new seasons is an absolute good. 

Anyway, his presence in Legends of Tomorrow season 2 is probably linked to the team being scattered through time.  He’s the only character currently revealed that has time travel capabilities plus his identity as someone from the future means we could be seeing one of the Legends thrown into the 25th Century with maybe even a cameo from Booster Gold, a hero of the future that’s a real favorite for the DC Entertainment higher ups.  Reverse Flash’s presence also hints that this season might be disconnected from The Flash’s season 3 storyline. 

If you aren’t a Flash fan, season 3 is an altered timeline story called Flashpoint and features the Reverse Flash locked up in the Flash’s subbasement of solitude for most of it.  If Reverse Flash is free to be involved in the Legion of Doom during Legends of Tomorrow it might follow that the Legends story won’t tie to fixing Flash’s time travel shenanigans.  Most importantly, I suspect Reverse Flash’s knowledge of history and time travel will be tied to however it is the Legion of Doom come together across history as some of their members are already dead by the time of the present. 

One of the only truly original characters to pop-up in the CWniverse, Damien Darhk has been the central antagonist of the last season of Arrow, making him the second Arrow villain to migrate to Legends of Tomorrow as part of the Legion of Doom.  He shares his name and nothing else with an obscure Teen Titans villain but his main inspiration seems to be Black Hand, in that they’re both villains with the power of the touch of death.  

Darhk’s best described as an evil nigh immortal wizard with his biggest continuity contributions being that he killed the Black Canary and was publicly defeated by Green Arrow in a battle that inspired a whole new crop of vigilantes. 

Darhk seems the most out of place of all the Legion of Doom bad guys as it’s not like he’s a particularly important or impressive bad guy.  Honestly, the big reason I think he’s around is because White Canary is a favorite member of the Legends of Tomorrow and Darhk killing her sister sets him up for a nice vendetta storyline.  

What’s more, his role as a quasi-immortal (it’s not terribly clear how immortal he really is) means he could work as a bad guy from any point in the past prior to his death in the Arrow season 4 finale.  His presence does raise an interesting question of science vs. magic on the team as he’s black mage while Reverse Flash is a future scientist so it’d be cool if that popped up.

This is the most surprising bad guy associated with the Legion of Doom as Captain Cold was pretty definitively dead at the end of Legends of Tomorrow season 1.  He died rescuing all of time from the manipulation of the Time Masters in a heroic sacrifice so the fact he’s somehow back from the great beyond is pretty noteworthy.  

The big, obvious question is of course how but there’s also the linger question of why he’s now on the side of the bad guys.  Even though Cold was a thief and a criminal his whole arc in season 1 was about admitting his inner heroism and moving towards his noble sacrifice at the end of the season, basically becoming a good guy.  So the fact that his return has flipped his moral compass once more seems a pretty major deal. 

Now obviously, there’s the possibility that Cold’s presence on the team is tied to timing, with the Legion of Doom forming sometime prior to Legends of Tomorrow season 1.  This would explain some stuff like Reverse Flash and Darhk’s presence, as the timing would set the team’s existence prior to Arrow season 4 and The Flash season 3, but honestly that would feel like a big of a cop-out.  Sure, it’d be a clever way to deal with avoiding the fallout of the Flash’s reality warping but it just seems like a bate and switch.  

I’d much prefer it if the events of Flashpoint somehow warped Cold back to life and the Legion of Doom is his revenge on the Legends of Tomorrow not being able to save him.  It’d work really well in grounding all the different villains in a familiar motivation and keeping the focus on the Legends of Tomorrow rather than CW’s attendant mythology. 

Legends of Tomorrow season 2 premieres October 13, 2016

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