Did you give up on Legends of Tomorrow in its first season? Then you’ve been missing out on the best show in the Arrowverse for the last two years.
The first season of Legends of Tomorrow was admittedly weak, though it wrapped up nicely in its final couple of episodes. Throughout season 1, it was character moments with the likes of Sara Lance, Leonard Snart, and Mick Rory that propped up the underwhelming spinoff.
However, season 2 made some changes. If you — understandably — gave up on the show in season 1, it’s time to jump back in. Here are seven things the show did to become the most consistent and most fun show in the Arrowverse.
It made cast changes
The first season of Legends of Tomorrow focused on the team’s attempt to defeat the immortal Vandal Savage after being recruited by Time Master Rip Hunter. Savage spent every lifetime hunting down Carter Hall (Hawkman) and Kendra Saunders (Hawkgirl), the reincarnations of an ancient Egyptian prince and priestess, respectively.
However, the Hawks weren’t the strongest characters and their story was not particularly compelling. Thus, both Carter and Kendra departed the series at the end of season 1. Season 2 introduced historian and Justice Society of America legacy Nate Heywood as well as JSA member Amaya (the grandmother of present-day Vixen, Mari McCabe).
Both Nate and Amaya fit into the misfit team beautifully as Nate manifested abilities and developed a quirky bromance with fellow brainiac Ray Palmer while Amaya grew to love both Nate and the Legends.
The cast of Legends has varied from season to season, with some characters departing and others being introduced; the only remaining Legends from the pilot are Sara Lance, Ray Palmer, and Mick Rory.
But through it all, we’ve watched the rotating cast of characters come to really love and care for one another, so when they call themselves a family, we believe it. They don’t always get along — but isn’t a bit of dysfunction part of what makes a family?
It upped its villain game
Though Vandal Savage is an impressive character in the comics and in animated incarnations like in Young Justice, his portrayal lacked the presence on Legends to feel like a serious threat.
In season 2, Legends brought in three Arrowverse villains to form the Legion of Doom: Eobard Thawne (his presence a direct result of Flashpoint), Malcolm Merlyn, and a pre-magic version of Damien Darhk.
We had already seen the threat these villains posed on The Flash and Arrow — and they had connections to several of the heroes, especially Sara — but putting them together provided a surprising amount of comedy since they didn’t like each other. Season 2 even features a villain-centric episode that is one of the best of the season.
Season 3 brought back Damien Darhk, this time resurrecting the version that died at the end of Arrow‘s fourth season and brought back his daughter as an adult. The family dynamic there became its own interesting plot as they worked to resurrect the demon Mallus while the Legends tried to stop them.
It stopped taking itself seriously
Legends of Tomorrow is a show about a group of misfits who travel through time and “screw things up for the better.” But the first season focused on a heavy subject: averting a future dystopia. Season 2, though, realized it’s actually a pretty silly concept.
In a way that none of the other Arrowverse shows does, Legends of Tomorrow knows exactly what kind of show it is and embraces it. According to Caity Lotz, that’s why the show won’t be part of the big 2018-19 season crossover:
“The Legends have really set themselves apart from the rest of the Arrowverse. We’re very different [and] we’re not the same kind of show as the other ones, so we don’t [fit in as well],” she tells TVLine.
EP Keto Shimizu also told CinemaBlend, “And tonally, we are so different from those other shows at this point, it’s hard to jump back into that world with the other Arrowverse shows.”
It doubled down on the kooky
Not only did Legends stop taking itself seriously, it doubled down on the ridiculousness. (Why yes, that is John Noble on the set of The Lord of the Rings films in the image above from an episode titled “Guest Starring John Noble.”)
The best example of this is definitely the introduction of Beebo, a Furby knockoff, which has become one of the best running jokes in the Arrowverse — to the point that Beebo figured heavily into the Legends season 3 finale.
The toy also appeared on The Flash. And a Beebo toy was spotted at a carnival on the Supergirl season 4 set.
And let’s not forget Beebo’s presence at San Diego Comic-Con 2018.
Besides Beebo, Legends has featured zombie Confederate soldiers, a baby alien forcing federal agents to perform musical theater, time loops, clones, Vikings, pirates and more. See our rundown of the most ridiculous moments from season 3 here.
It treats its characters well
Just because the show is crazy does not mean it ignores character work. Rather, the characters ground the show. Because the show features an ensemble cast, the focus is spread out among the characters, and each character gets a chance to shine.
Though Sara has developed into the de facto lead since stepping into the captain’s role — she stands alongside the titular characters of the other Arrowverse shows in promo materials) — the show doesn’t only focus on her.
In fact, Mick, who started on The Flash as Leonard Snart’s partner, has perhaps the best character arc in the entire Arrowverse. After season 2, I wrote about the strength of his arc here; season 3 only developed his arc more as he further entrenched himself as a hero with demons.
The other characters all have their own reasons for being on the Waverider and motivations for doing what they’re doing. Those motivations impact the way they react to various missions. In addition, the characters are allowed to make mistakes but learn from them.
And, perhaps most importantly, the characters communicate! Too often shows like this create drama by preventing the characters from communicating. But issues between the Legends like secrets rarely last more than a couple of episodes.
For instance, in season 3, Ray was told that he might have to kill Sara. Rather than have Ray brood on that, Sara finds out in the next episode and agrees that it’s the right call. This allows for organic conflict rather than manufactured drama.
It plays with character dynamics
Legends takes advantage of its ensemble cast by regularly mixing up combinations of characters who work together on a mission. And some surprisingly delightful friendships have popped up as a result.
For instance, Mick and Amaya developed an unexpected affection for one another. While Mick struggles with whether he is more hero or villain, Amaya refuses to see him as a monster. And Mick, touched in his own way by that, supports her. Sara and Jax had a lovely, affectionate sibling dynamic. And Mick finds a brother in Ray Palmer (aka Haircut).
Not all the friendships are surprising, of course. Nate and Ray are clearly meant to be BFFs, and the badasses Sara and Amaya work well together.
But the show’s willingness to explore unusual combinations between these characters makes watching each mission play out more interesting. The varied character combinations help us learn more about the characters and make the episodes a lot of fun.
It visits fun time periods
Finally, Legends of Tomorrow takes advantage of the fact that it’s a time travel show. The Legends get to interact with historical figures and dress up in fun costumes. The show has visited the time of the dinosaurs, and Sara has gotten advice from a young Barack Obama. They have a friend in Jonah Hex back in the Wild West.
The Legends have commandeered a pirate ship and Mick has befriended George Washington. The Legends helped inspire Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. From Camelot to the year 2213, the Legends enjoy traveling through time.
As Legends of Tomorrow goes into its fourth season, it has established itself as the best show in the Arrowverse. So, if you dropped it back in season 1, you won’t regret catching up before the new season premieres.
Legends of Tomorrow season 4 premieres Monday, October 22 at 9:00 p.m. ET on The CW.