Warning: this review contains spoilers.
Ever since the announcement trailer, I’ve been waiting for Legends of Tomorrow‘s big premiere with bated breath. And although it was inconsistently paced and less than perfect overall, “Pilot, Part 1” nevertheless did not disappoint, delivering a decent dose of crazy stupid fun and promising much more on the way.
The premiere was mostly predictable for a superhero ensemble story. The first half was dedicated to the heroes’ recruitment, with all the story beats one would expect. Separate introductions demonstrating each of their powers. The exposition-heavy scene in which they are brought together and their purpose is explained. The will-they-won’t-they segment. The first adventure. A demoralizing moment of defeat, followed by an inspirational finale as they all come together as a team.
But that’s ok. It’s a story of time-traveling superheroes fighting an immortal from the future, after all—there’s enough novelty in the episode that its formulaic skeleton can be overlooked.
Another issue the episode faced was the inconsistent pacing. As with most series premieres, a lot of time is spent on exposition and character introductions, and that is especially true in a show like Legends of Tomorrow. However, I felt it was a bit more exposition-heavy than it needed to be, considering it repeated a lot of information the viewers knew already thanks to Arrow and The Flash. While it’s true that Legends is meant to work independently, it was still a bit tedious to go through a CliffsNotes retelling of Hawkman and Hawkgirl’s origin, for example. Other victims of the crunched pacing were some characters, like Martin Stein and the antagonist, Chronos. The latter was simply bland and undeveloped—just a bad guy in a mask with a laser gun. The former, though, acted pretty out of character when he actually drugged Jax in order to speed the plot along. That was… not okay.
Those issues aside, it was actually a really fun hour of television. It’s a time travel adventure with superheroes! Need I say more? The prologue in the future was a cool visual treat and a great way to demonstrate the high stakes. Seeing the team fight together with their various powers made for some exciting action. There was also a lot of humour, especially as our heroes entered the 70s. Not to mention the craziness inherent to combining time travel with, say, reincarnation—like having a character encounter her son from a previous life.
Former Time Master Rip Hunter, the adventure’s catalyst, was an instantly memorable addition to the CW DC universe. Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Atom, and the Firestorm duo were already decent characters, with Atom in particular getting some solid character motivation in this episode. But it was Canary, Captain Cold, and Heatwave stole the show. The bar scene featuring those three was not even slightly related to the Vandal Savage plotline, yet it was the best part of the episode. Who knew Heatwave would turn out to be this funny?
Finally, I loved the twist at the end where the characters learned the reason they were chosen for the mission wasn’t that they were destined for greatness, but rather the exact opposite. It went against our expectations and gave the heroes a reason and a desire to prove themselves.
On the whole, this was an imperfect but very enjoyable start to a unique show, and the upcoming episodes, unburdened by the setup, promise to be even better.