‘Legends of Tomorrow’ Review: ‘Flash’-‘Arrow’ Spinoff Needs More Fighting, Less Talking

Fun action makes the superhero show worth watching, but too much time is wasted on exposition

legends of tomorrow

It might take some getting used to the grandiose and somewhat campy tone of DC’s new “Legends of Tomorrow” — but if you’re watching, you’re at least a little familiar with it from network-mates “Arrow” and “The Flash,” from which “Legends” is spun off.

The plot goes like this: About 150 years from now, the world is hell, overrun by a mad despot — who happens to be immortal — named Vandal Savage (Casper Crump). As the series opens, he busy laying siege to London in “The Second Blitz,” as it’s called. Oh, and apparently we’ve discovered time travel by this point, because a lone voice of reason (Arthur Darvill) is appealing to the Time Masters Council to let him go back in time and put together a team of heroes to help him defeat Savage once and for all.

If you’ve been watching “Arrow” or “The Flash” — which, again, probably — you’re familiar with Savage, and with the eight characters Darvill’s Rip Hunter plucks from modern times to take him on: From “Arrow” there’s Ray Palmer, or the Atom (Brandon Routh) and the recently reincarnated White Canary (Caity Lotz), while “The Flash” sends in the Firestorm duo of Dr. Martin Stein (Victor Garber) and Jax Jackson (Franz Drameh), Vandal rivals Hawkgirl (Ciara Renée) and Hawkman (Falk Hentschel), plus bravado-fueled criminals Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) and Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell).

The CW might be banking on the familiarity of supporting players from its two established DC series, but the real standout is Darvill’s Rip Hunter, who has clearly had lots of interesting adventures prior to this show that we don’t get to see. Maybe it’s the accent, maybe it’s the jacket — heck, maybe it’s just residual affection for his turn as Rory on “Doctor Who,” but he’s definitely the best part of the show. Which is all the more aggravating when he gets sidelined for long stretches in favor of the more familiar characters.

Also aggravating? The shortcuts the show takes to make things seem epic and grand — like time travel and an immortal villain didn’t already help with that. But no, they also do that thing where they put the word “time” in front of anything to make it sound more impressive — time ship, time limbo, time master. It’s a bit much. And sure, of course, it’s supposed to be like a comic book, but the clumsy dialogue and stiff acting can be a bit much to get past. Nearly everyone employs a strange, stilted way of delivering their lines, which may seem fitting for the genre, but it can still be grating.

Some things work great, though. A 1975-set bar fight involving Lotz, Miller and Purcell is quite fun, and the action in general scenes genuinely work, helping the fledgling series come together. But when the characters stand around and talk, things start to feel silly. There is a lot of scenery to be chewed in this one. And it’s still not clear exactly what Miller is doing with his arched-eyebrow, purring characterization of Captain Cold, but he is definitely making some choices.