LEGENDS of TOMORROW
“It’s ideas that are nuts!” Joseph McCabe discovers the DC TV Universe’s craziest, most ambitious show yet...
“It is literally a dream come true”
For four years, DC comic book fans have been treated to the truest live-action superhero adaptations ever to grace television screens. Starting with Arrow, focused on the Emerald Archer of Star City, and continuing with The Flash, chronicling the adventures of Central City’s Scarlet Speedster, the DC TV Universe has transported audiences through time, across alternate universes, and even introduced them to telepathic gorillas. But it’s now upped the stakes still further, giving us a weekly series devoted to an entire team of costumed characters. Meet the Legends of Tomorrow.
“I wrote a line the other day for Ray Palmer,” says Arrow and now Legends executive producer Marc Guggenheim, referring to Legends’ resident CEO turned adventurer, best known as the Atom (embodied by Brandon Routh). “I’m not sure if it will end up in a cut or anything, but it was, ‘Ten-year-old me is having a moment.’ That pretty much just came from me. Ten-year-old me can’t believe this. It’s insane. It is literally a dream come true. It would be a dream come true just to be watching the show.”
heck of a line-up
Part of Guggenheim’s amazement stems from the roster of Legends, a smorgasbord of fan favourite characters from both Arrow and The Flash. In addition to Atom, the team’s founding membership consists of Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller), Firestorm (Franz Drameh and Victor Garber), Hawkgirl (Ciara Renée), Hawkman (Falk Hentschel), Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell), and Black Canary turned White Canary (Caity Lotz). All of them united by time master Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) to battle the immortal Vandal Savage (Casper Crump).
“It was like, really, you’re really letting us do this? And you don’t need a script?!” Guggenheim says of the reaction he and his fellow execs Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg had towards Warner Brothers’ decision. “This is insane. Not to get all sentimental about it, but it was very humbling.”
“When the idea for a second spin-off came up and we were talking about it we were very cognisant that we didn’t want to repeat ourselves,” Kreisberg tells SFX. “There wasn’t an appetite on the part of the audience to watch us repeat ourselves. And we really wanted something different. Arrow’s amazing and huge and awesome, and The Flash was somehow bigger in scope. We were like, ‘What could be bigger than The Flash?’ That was really where the idea of a team came up. But rather than it just being a collection of heroes, having some wild cards in there and having some characters of questionable morality became part of it. We started talking a lot about Ocean’s Eleven and The Dirty Dozen, and, for me, The Guns Of Navarone, where there are two leaders of the team and one’s got a blood debt to kill the other one.
“So it was about taking those classic tropes and applying them to the superhero genre. And to see if we could pull that off and have a show that exists within our other shows’ universe. As always we set the bar very high for ourselves, and hopefully we’ll just clear it again this time. My takeaway from what we’ve been doing so far is… On Flash and Arrow we always have these ideas and then somebody will go, ‘We can’t do that. That’s nuts.’ Well, all Legends is ‘That’s nuts.’ It’s ideas that are nuts.”
Nuts or not, Guggenheim says picking a Big Bad fearsome enough to warrant such a conglomeration of heroes and antiheroes was the first order of business…
“Vandal’s aspiration is nothing smaller than taking over the entire world. I’ve made no secret, at least with the writers, of my incredible affection for [comic writer] Mike Baron’s take on Vandal, from the first two issues of the Wally West Flash, with Jackson Guice drawing him. I’m massively influenced by that. I can’t speak for the other writers, but I don’t think I’m writing any other version of Vandal.”
The man playing the ages-old supervillain, introduced in 2015’s Arrow-Flash crossover two-parter (“Legends Of Today” and “Legends Of Yesterday”) is, according to Guggenheim, a “classic” by casting director David Rapaport.
“The thing about David is he always brings you the best person first. Stephen Amell was the very first person to walk in the casting room for Arrow. He always just knows who exactly we should cast. Casper was the first guy he brought to us. It was like, ‘Done. Perfect!’ He gave a great audition. He looks the part but he also acts the part. He’s got that level of both malevolence and cultured gravitas that we needed for Vandal. We couldn’t be more thrilled.”
Legends Of Tomorrow will further distinguish itself from its forbears by altering both its format and principal cast with each successive season.
“The one thing we’ve said is each season – or even if we do a 22-episode season next year and we break it up – each arc has to be its own thing. Its own movie with its own concept and its own raison d’être, and its own set of characters. Which is not to say that every arc is gonna completely reboot. But what’s fun about the concept is because it’s a team concept we can rotate people in and out depending upon what the actors want to do and what our storytelling needs are. There’s a lot of flexibility there. Which is kind of nice. It’s not gonna be an anthology like American Horror Story, where each season is a completely different concept. But it’s gonna have a different idea behind it. Time travel is the idea behind season one. The next arc, whenever that is, will have its own big idea behind it.”
As for what Guggenheim is most excited for fans to see when Legends premieres in January 2016, the exec teases, “In the first hour, seeing all these characters together is really the cachet of the show, and I’m really looking forward to the first time that team is assembled on camera in action together. Then there’s a moment in the second hour that’s pretty amazing, that I’m looking forward to fans seeing. But I’m gonna be very vague about it.”
In the meantime, Guggenheim reveals to SFX the challenge now facing Legends’ writing staff…
“Part of the problem with breaking the stories for the show is that we’ll get together and, every five minutes, we’re just saying how crazy-insane it is, and then we’ll lose five minutes talking about how insane it is before we come back to doing the actual work.”
Legends Of Tomorrow begins on The CW in the US on 21 January and Sky 1 in the UK TBC.
wanted really different we something spin-off with this
Energy drinks perhaps?
“You’re gonna be so hot!” They haven’t learnt to “assemble” like the Avengers just yet.
Firestorm, Hawkman, Hawkgirl and White Canary wait around for the action to start.