After “Arrow” successfully spun off “The Flash,” it was only a matter of time that a third show popped up in The CW’s DC comic book universe.
“Legends of Tomorrow” takes existing supporting characters from both “Arrow” and “The Flash” and sends them on a new mission, with some new friends and foes in tow.
So why this show?
“We’d been talking about doing a third show. And there’s no point in doing a third show unless it’s different from ‘Arrow’ and ‘Flash,'” executive producer Marc Guggenheim told TheWrap. “While we were having our own internal discussions, discussions were being had at the network. And the conclusion we each independently came to was, you know what we’ve never done before? We’ve never done a team show.”
“Legends” introduces familiar characters like “Arrow’s” White Canary (Caity Lotz) and The Atom (Brandon Routh) and “The Flash’s” Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) and Firestorm (Victor Garber and Franz Drameh) to a new character, Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill), who brings them together to save the world.
“Arrow” and “The Flash” dedicated its annual crossover event to launching the spinoff, focusing most of the episodes on Hawkman (Falk Hentschel) and Hawkgirl (Ciara Renee) and their complicated history with “Legends” big bad Vandal Savage (Casper Crump), but it’s going to take the whole of “Legends'” first season to finish telling that story.
Guggenheim spoke with TheWrap about the show’s tone, time travel and challenges of making a successful spinoff.
Why make this spinoff?
We’d been talking about doing a third show. And there’s no point in doing a third show unless it’s different from “Arrow” and “Flash.” While we were having our own internal discussions, discussions were being had at the network. And the conclusion we each independently came to was, you know what we’ve never done before? We’ve never done a team show. And you know what we have, without having designed it? All these incredible actors and all these incredible characters from “Flash” and “Arrow.” And it wasn’t like “oh we’re going to bring in Victor Garber on ‘Flash’ and we’re going to bring in Brandon Routh on ‘Arrow’ and that will have an endgame of spinning them off into their own show.” It was just about needing a great actor for Martin Stein, needing a great actor for Ray Palmer. But when you do that over the course of three years, we found ourselves very fortunate, like we’ve got Caity Lotz and Wentworth Miller and Brandon and Victor, and Dominic Purcell and wow, you can make a show out of that. I think, like all good ideas, this kind of occurred to all of us at the same time.
So none of the actors originally signed on to do a spinoff, and you had to approach each of them individually.
We had to approach each of them and we had to say, we’re enjoying working with you on “Flash,” we’re enjoying working with you on “Arrow,” we have this crazy idea. We don’t have a pilot, we don’t have a script to show you, we have nothing, really, except our relationship, and our track record. And to their credit, all of them signed on, all of them said yes. That was a big honor for us, but it was also a big commitment to these actors, who really signed on to nothing. The audience has a lot of faith in us, which is wonderful, but when they’re committing to us, they’re committing 42 minutes of their lives. When these actors commit, they’re committing a year of their lives, on faith, and that’s a really special, amazing things.
There are existing teams and team names in DC canon, why go with something new?
They were already doing “Justice League” in the movies, we bantered around with a bunch of different names. It was a combination of — some of the names were going to be developed into other TV shows or movies, some of the names didn’t quite fit with the nature of the show, and at the end of the day, while the word Legends isn’t a team name, it’s a word with a lot of cache in the DC universe. There’s “Legends of the Dark Knight” series, the “Legends” miniseries from 1978. Legends is a name with a lot of importance in the DC universe, that just felt like it encapsulated the show better than some of the other names that we could have gone with.
What is the tone of this show in relation to “Arrow” or “The Flash”?
It’s definitely closer to the “Flash” end of the spectrum. It’s a much lighter show, it’s a funnier show and it’s also much more of a zanier show. “The Flash” is an ensemble and everyone on “Flash” has their shit together. That crew at S.T.A.R. Labs have it together, and same goes for “Arrow.” They’re a very well-oiled machine. They may have conflicts but everyone’s got a good head on their shoulders. This group is insane. There’s a deceased assassin who’s still dealing with her blood lust from her resurrection, you’ve got reincarnated hawk people, one of whom doesn’t really remember her past lives all that well and is still trying to control her abilities, you’ve got two guys sharing the same body, they’re sort of like the odd couple of superheroes, then you’ve got two criminals. The nature of this team is so diverse in terms of their personalities that a lot of the humor comes from throwing all these disparate people together on the same ship and seeing what happens.
Is time travel what the show’s about or is it just the Season 1 story with Rip Hunter and Vandal Savage?
We certainly say that each season will have its own arc to it. If we were to do a long season we’d do two arcs, but the arcs have a clear beginning, middle and end, and a clear mission. Obviously the mission of Season 1 is stop Vandal Savage from taking over the world. As for what the show’s about, each season has its own theme to it as well. The theme of this season is destiny, can you change your destiny, can you surpass your destiny, do you even have a destiny?
So time travel is not necessarily always going to be a factor.
I think time travel is a device. Time travel is to “Legends” what super speed is to “Flash.” It’s a device, it’s not what the show is about. It’s this thing that gets you from place to place, to time to time. That said, you can characterize “Legends” any number of ways. If people want to characterize it as a time travel show, they’re more than welcome. I think that’s one element of the show, but when I describe the show, time travel usually comes in very late in the description.
“Legends of Tomorrow” premieres Thursday, Jan. 21 at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.