First, a speedy introduction to its premise: a bunch of B-list heroes and villains are recruited by Time Master Rip Hunter to travel through time and stop a man named Vandal Savage from taking over the world.
First introduced last year in the annual Arrow/Flash crossover Christmas event, Vandal Savage proved to be more than a match for both the Green Arrow and the Flash combined, requiring a team-up of eight suited-up heroes to finally defeat him.
He got better, of course.
Some of the problems actually stem from its main villain, Vandal Savage. Despite a strong, rather promising start, Savage has trailed off into complete mediocrity. He appears to have lost most of his martial prowess and barely shows any magic prowess, preferring instead to sneer and grandstand. In episode 2, he’s very nearly taken out. Savage himself doesn’t help, doing little more than sneering and posturing when he does appear.
Another problem is simply that the cast is rather large, juggling an ensemble of nine team members, plus the villain of the week, with a 42 minute timeslot.
It’s not like other shows don’t have large ensemble casts: Game of Thrones and Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD for example. But the differences are clear: Game of Thrones takes place over an entire continent, splitting the cast members up into different locations so that there are only a few main cast members present at any time. With Agents of SHIELD, not everyone has powers. Coulson is clearly the tactical leader, rarely going into action himself, same for the team of FitzSimmons. There are martial artist BAMFs with Mockingbird and Agent May, and some straight up superheroes with a forerunner of the Secret Warriors team with Daisy Johnson and her current love interest, Lincoln Campbell. It’s a good mix, with a fair bit of variety.
With Legends, the CW is dumping nine fully suited up heroes, miscreants, and rabble-rousers all into the mix from day one. All of them are hands-on when it comes to dealing with villains, and so (likely for budgetary reasons) the writers have to keep contriving circumstances to keep a few people benched – often rather poorly. And given that they were able to take out Vandal Savage and had him dead to rights – were it not for plot armour – in episode 2, not to mention in a few other episodes, well, it’s getting harder and harder to enjoy the show.
Having said that, most people thought Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, which has a similarly large ensemble cast, was never going to fly, but given its been picked up for 3 seasons at ABC and might well be picked up for a 4th, I think its safe to say that Legends has a fairly good chance of getting another season under its belt as long it gets its act together. After all, despite mixed reception for season 1, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD was able to secure a second season, at which point its ratings climbed and it was generally a much better and more cohesive show.
That said, Legends of Tomorrow is still fairly good, particularly its quieter moments, where real, tangible character growth is shown rather poignantly. Who would have thought that Captain Cold and Heat Wave would have extended their code of honour to anyone other than each other? That, despite his constant friction with his other half of Firestorm, Martin Stein’s constant antagonism stems from his fear of losing a partner, a friend for the second time?