Superheroes can sometimes feel like they're absolutely everywhere thanks to a variety of TV shows and films, and the result can be legions of happy fans ready to go along for the ride. At the same time, superheroes across the large and small screens can also be somewhat exhausting, even for superhero fans in general, and especially if you're plugged into pop culture. The good news? The CW has a show that showcases some fantastic heroes while also serving as an ideal cure for superhero fatigue: the time-traveling Legends of Tomorrow.
Now, I know that the very concept of "superhero fatigue" can be divisive, with some people not believing that it's real at all, some not only believing it but feeling it sometimes, and some just wondering why anybody exhausted by superheroes doesn't just stop paying any attention to superhero movies and TV shows. Which: valid point. But as a completist who happened to start in some current superhero universes pretty early on, it's hard for me to just unplug, and I know I'm not alone.
For me, Legends of Tomorrow is the exception among superhero stories that can get too heavy under the weight of their own mythology and elaborate connections, and the show really helps me get psyched back up for superhero action. And sure, the Arrowverse pales so much in comparison to the grand scale, budget, and storytelling of the MCU that it's practically invisible, but Legends of Tomorrow should not be overlooked.
Read on for some reasons why it's my preferred way to get excited about the genre again, and could work for you if you're also somebody who loves superheroes but still come down with a case of superhero fatigue from time to time.
Legends Of Tomorrow Is Constantly Evolving
If you look at Legends of Tomorrow as of how it wrapped with the Season 5 finale and compare it to the first season back in 2016, you might think that the current Legends is a spinoff of the much gloomier show that had an almost entirely different cast in the beginning. And I'm confident that the consensus among viewers is that the more that Legends of Tomorrow has evolved and pushed the boundaries of Arrowverse expectations, the better it has gotten. If something doesn't work on Legends, the odds are that it's not going to last.
The show also tends to tell reasonably self-contained stories within the mythology. Viewers can enjoy bonkers and somewhat standalone episodes for as long as they can suspend their disbelief about these heroes trying to repair history (which is often broken because they broke it) while also following along with a larger arc. You could have enjoyed Season 5 without sticking it out through the rough first couple of seasons, and that's a credit to everybody who allowed the show to develop and become something fantastic over the years.
A Motley Crew Of Superheroes
Unlike Arrow that founded the Arrowverse and The Flash and Supergirl that followed, Legends of Tomorrow isn't centered on and therefore reliant on just one superhero with one skillset and one set of relationships that have to remain compelling year in and year out. Sure, Sara Lance is clearly the lead of the show, and she along with Mick Rory (for now) have seniority among the Legends, but this is an ensemble of heroes, plucked out of their previous lives to travel through time and fight bad guys.
Some characters are original to Legends of Tomorrow, while others have migrated over from other Arrowverse shows, and I honestly found that Legends turned characters like Ray Palmer, Mick Rory, Leonard Snart, and yes, even Sara Lance into far more dynamic characters than they ever were on Arrow and Flash. And best of all, in my mind, is that these are all very different superheroes with different strengths.
Are your favorite heroes the ones who rely on their own skills rather than superpowers? Say hello to Sara Lance. In the market for more superpowered heroes? Meet Nate Heywood, not to mention Zari and Behrad with their unique abilities. Magic? John Constantine debuted in the Arrowverse for just that purpose. Normal human with technology? Mick Rory at your fiery service. And that's to name just some of the characters with a variety of powers. Sure, the special effects look like... well, look like you'd expect of a CW show, but if you suspend your disbelief for the superhero genre in general, then it's worth giving Legends of Tomorrow with its motley crew of heroes a shot.
It Tackles Multiple Genres
Legends of Tomorrow is of course a superhero TV show, and the very premise is based on time travel. That said, the Legends haven't been tackling challenges in the same genre over and over again as the seasons passed and new threats arose. Back in the early days, the mythology was very... well, mythological with Vandal Savage and the Hawks. The Time Masters were a threat looming overhead early on as well, but then Rip Hunter was out and newcomers like Nate and Amaya and Zari were in, with supervillains Malcolm Merlyn, Eobard Thawne, and Damien Darhk imported from Arrow and The Flash to become Legends big bads for a season. A lot has happened.
And now Season 6 is going to involve aliens, but in a far more Legends of Tomorrow way than when The Dominators debuted as the villains for the Arrowverse's first four-part crossover in 2016 involving Arrow, Flash, Supergirl, and Legends. Sara was abducted by aliens in the Season 5 finale, so Season 6 will see the Legends trying to get their captain (and soon-to-be only remaining original Legend) back while Sara fights her own battle. As the trailer proves, Legends is going full sci-fi beyond the normal time and space travel, and that's not something that would have even been conceivable in earlier seasons.
It Doesn't Take Itself (Or Superheroes) Too Seriously
If everything I've said here paints a picture of an absolutely bonkers show, that's because it 100% is. Legends of Tomorrow has included everything from cowboys to historical figures to aliens to two versions of Zari in one season. The Legends used a giant Beebo to destroy a powerful demon by the name of Mallus. The show's young Barack Obama had a close call with The Flash's Gorilla Grodd. And the show not only acknowledges how bonkers it can get, but embraces it and pokes fun at it. Gotta love some self-awareness on the small screen, right?
The rules of time travel are hard to even keep track of nowadays, and some of the character journeys took such wild turns that I've kind of just rolled with them at points, but it's such a fun ride that it's not a bother in the least. Besides, don't all superhero projects stop making sense once you look closely at them? And none of this is to say that Legends of Tomorrow is slapstick – it's funny and fun, but there's a lot of heart and it's hard not to care about the relationships. And if the ride involves a wax version of Sisqo singing "Thong Song," then so be it!
It's Loosely Connected To The Rest Of The Arrowverse
Legends of Tomorrow is of course part of the larger Arrowverse, which has also included Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Batwoman, Superman & Lois, and – thanks to the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover – Black Lightning. Arrow has come to an end, and both Supergirl and Black Lightning are on their way out, but it's an expansive superhero universe that may continue growing. This has resulted in some epic crossovers with close ties between some of the series, particularly Arrow and Flash back in the day.
But it also led to the pesky need to keep up with all the Arrowverse shows for it to make sense when they crossed over, or when the events of one affected another. Even as somebody who was watching all the Arrowverse series at that point, I was annoyed when Barry messing with time on The Flash caused a big change for a key character on Arrow, and the existence of metahumans with the debut of The Flash changed the landscape of Arrow with the non-superpowered Oliver Queen. Now there are always the questions about why the various superheroes don't lend helping hands on the regular, and it can be distracting.
Enter Legends of Tomorrow. Sure, Legends is part of the Arrowverse, and Sara was actually a huge part of the "Crisis" crossover and early Arrow. And a number of other Arrowverse characters have at least temporarily mirgrated over to Legends from their original shows, even if they don't necessarily stick around. But Legends stands mostly alone a lot of the time, and is only affected by the others when crossovers are in play or somebody big is killed off. No need to be fatigued by all the superheroes of the Arrowverse just to watch Legends!
Plus, the other Arrowverse shows aren't turned inside out every time the Legends mess with time, so the ties seem tangential at best whenever crossovers aren't in play. Legends of Tomorrow is basically to the Arrowverse what Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was to the MCU by its end – the connections were of course there, but rarely relevant. And both shows got a lot better once they started to stray from the larger universes. You can enjoy Legends of Tomorrow as part of a large superhero universe without having to deal with a lot of strings attached, and that can be great for a recovery from superhero fatigue.
The whole Arrowverse is an impressive feat on the small screen, so none of this is to say that Legends of Tomorrow is the only show worth watching and Flash, Supergirl, and the rest should be discarded. In fact, I think Superman & Lois proves that the Arrowverse can still launch a strong spinoff, even now that it is almost ten years old. Legends is just my go-to whenever I want a break from bigger and more connected superhero universes but still enjoy a good old-fashioned superhero fix.
Legends of Tomorrow returns for Season 6 with a Chicago P.D. veteran on board on Sunday, May 2 at 8 p.m. ET on The CW, ahead of a new episode of Batwoman. Legends, along with fellow Arrowverse series The Flash and Batwoman, already scored a renewal for the 2021-2022 TV season, so there's no need to worry that the Legends' adventures through history will come to an end any time soon. This is The CW, so its irreverence isn't on par with The Boys or Doom Patrol, but it's worth the watch.