How Legends Of Tomorrow Learned Its Lesson With Vandal Savage

Season 1 of Legends of Tomorrow focused all of its attention on fighting Vandal Savage and his many plots to become ruler of the world by 2166. With the Season 1 Big Bad now a thing of the past, there will clearly need to be another supervillain for the team to fight. Now, actor Brandon Routh, who plays Ray Palmer/Atom on the show, has let it be known that the show might shake things up for Season 2 when it comes to how the Legends interact with the new threat that's coming their way.

It might be more like on the show Flash and Arrow where we have a couple smaller villains that come in...There'll be a season-long nemesis, but he'll come and go throughout the season, so we don't always have to be focused solely on that.

In a video posted to the DC Entertainment YouTube page, Brandon Routh spoke with them about some ways that Legends of Tomorrow Season 2 will be different from Season 1. From his interview, it sounds like the show will be bringing in some smaller villains to round things out so that the team isn't always focused on the shenanigans of one evil genius. And, that's a very good thing.

While Season 1 of Legends of Tomorrow certainly had some high points, one of the unfortunate lows was the show's complete reliance on the activities of immortal baddie Vandal Savage across time. While the team did encounter other adversaries during the first season, most of them were indirectly (or directly) related to Vandal Savage. We found out in the finale that the damn Time Masters, who'd unleashed Chronos, the Hunters and the Pilgrim to apprehend or outright kill the Legends, were actually working with Savage the whole time. This, of course, means that any bounty hunter sent by them is still sort of connected to that undying ass.

Legends of Tomorrow spent way too much time tying everything in the first season to Vandal Savage. Out of the series' 16 episodes in Season 1, there were only a couple of episodes that didn't directly involve him. And, as it just so happens, those were the best episodes in the season. It didn't take long for Savage to become a huge drag. One of the reasons that his appearance pulled the show down was that he was just too hard to kill. I know, the Big Bad is supposed to be hard as all hell to kill so that he/she/it lasts all season and gives the good guys as much trouble as possible. But, when you have a team of eight (nine if you separate Firestorm) heroes and only one of them can kill the bad guy, and only with artifacts from a very specific point in time, that might be a bit too difficult. As a result, we have to watch our protagonists chasing Savage around time and losing, often pitifully, at every turn.

On top of that, the secondary villains that Legends of Tomorrow showed audiences weren't very compelling. The team encounters Valentina Vostok in the Soviet Union in 1986. Once she discovers that Martin Stein is one half of Firestorm, she goes power mad, enters a reactor to absorb energy from the thermal core and forces him to merge with her. All that was needed to take her down was for Jefferson to talk to Professor Stein and get him to un-merge with her. Then she implodes. That's it? All that it took was for the two halves of Firestorm to communicate with each other to take down someone crazy enough to absorb nuclear energy? What kind of bad guy is crazy but stupid? That's too easy and no fun at all.

In 2046 the team ran afoul of Grant Wilson, the son of Slade Wilson/Deathstroke. As Arrow taught us, Deathstroke was no joke, but his son was quite a bit easier to defeat. And, let's be honest, when you're dealing with a team made of people with superpowers, assassin training, high tech suits and fancy weapons, how hard is it going to be for them to defeat a gang of thugs, even if the thugs are some pretty tough guys. Do you have a gun that can freeze people to death? No. Get outta here, son.

When the Legends tried to hide out from the Hunters in 1871, they had to help protect a town from the Stillwater gang. After Jefferson is taken captive by the gang, they settle everything with, wait for it...a duel. Say what? The Legends of Tomorrow, who are supposed to be working their way toward being some of the baddest asses that history has ever seen, settle things with an old fashioned duel? Sorry, that's just lame. Especially since the Hunters showed up and gave the town a taste of wild future tech anyway. Ray could have just blown the gang up, but no, there had to be an Old West duel. Actually, that may have been a smart play on the show's part. When they can solve a problem with a duel, that makes everything Vandal Savage throws at them seem just that much more intimidating.

So, we know that Legends of Tomorrow will have to really bring their A-game when coming up with secondary bad guys for Season 2 (and for coming up with ways to have the team defeat them), but what about the Big Bad? What does the overarching villain need to have that will make them feel like a bigger player? I'd start with someone who actually feels imposing. Vandal Savage never felt like more than a sneering brat who couldn't get the girl he wanted, so he went all take-over-the-world on everyone. The show's main villain shouldn't just be around all the time to make the point that they're a serious threat. They should loom large even when other serious threats keep the team occupied. And for the main bad guy to have that kind of impact, the villain-of-the-week simply has to be tougher. They need to be harder to take down, smarter, stronger and meaner than the smaller villains we saw in Season 1.

Look, deciding to have more threats on Legends of Tomorrow is a definite step in the right direction. It'll keep the audience (and the heroes) on their toes on a weekly basis. Having one major bad guy who's basically related to all the smaller bad guys only allows fans to get tired of the challenges the team faces. We need them to have to really flex their creative muscles when they face a challenge, otherwise we get to know everyone's go-to moves, and we'll get bored. That same lack of creativity can then show in the episode structure, as evidenced by some of the weak ways conflicts were handled in Season 1. Not to mention the sometimes dumb ways the Legends acted in trying to solve their problems. (No, having Jefferson chat up a white girl in a small town in 1958 is not a good idea. You should all know better.)

Well, it won't be too long before we can see what Legends of Tomorrow has up its time-traveling sleeve for Season 2. Let's all hope that the show's all-around villain game is much stronger, because we can only get a better show for it.

Adrienne Jones
Senior Content Creator

Covering The Witcher, Outlander, Virgin River, Sweet Magnolias and a slew of other streaming shows, Adrienne Jones is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend, and started in the fall of 2015. In addition to writing and editing stories on a variety of different topics, she also spends her work days trying to find new ways to write about the many romantic entanglements that fictional characters find themselves in on TV shows. She graduated from Mizzou with a degree in Photojournalism.