Who could have guessed when Mick Rory, aka Heat Wave, debuted on The Flash that he would become one of the Arrowverse’s most complex characters? On Legends of Tomorrow, he shines.
On ‘The Flash’
When Mick first appeared on The Flash as an ally of Leonard Snart, he was little more than a caricature. The media hyped up the Prison Break reunion between Wentworth Miler — who had quickly become a fan favorite as Captain Cold — and Dominic Purcell. But the character himself was a pyromaniac and a thug. He had few morals, and the only one who could keep him under some modicum of control was Snart.
There was little hint at depth in this portrayal.
On ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ season 1
Mick was one of the Arrowverse characters selected to move to the big superhero team-up spin-off. This clearly played off Leonard Snart’s popularity and the buzz surrounding the two actors being on screen together again. When Rip Hunter recruited his team, Mick was someone the team needed to keep an eye on. After all, he had no interest in being a hero and was not shy about saying it.
Mick, it seemed, was there to be part of Leonard Snart’s hard-earned hero’s journey that would come to its conclusion at the end of Legends of Tomorrow‘s first season. He contrasted Snart’s increasing desire to be a part of the good guys’ team. And, of course, he was only recruited because he and Snart were a package deal.
With that in mind, one of the best things Legends of Tomorrow did in its first season was reveal that Mick was Chronos, the Time Masters’ bounty hunter who was chasing the team through time.
After Mick turned on the team, he was captured and abandoned by Leonard Snart. The Time Masters found him and brought him to the Vanishing Point. He was tortured, brainwashed, and reconditioned to work as the bounty hunter Chronos. When Rip defected from the Time Masters in 2166, Chronos was sent after him and his team. He easily tracked the team because he was once with them.
Mick truly became a part of the team, though, after his identity was revealed and the team tried to rehabilitate him.
This development gave Mick a story of his own rather than keeping him an accessory of Snart’s. It gave the character a personal stake in stopping the Time Masters (and by extension Vandal Savage, who was working with the Time Masters). And it set up some hidden depths — as well as trauma — that continued to surprise us into season 2.
And Mick had to go on living after he intended to die to stop the Time Masters but Snart knocked him out and took his place. Snart’s hero’s journey came to a conclusion, but Mick clearly had a ways to go. And him returning to the team after Vandal Savage’s defeat proved that he was willing to continue on his own hero’s journey.
The dynamic that developed between Mick, Snart and Sara was a highlight of the season, but Mick’s grudging affection for
Haircut was a delightful surprise. Who would have expected those two would become close friends?
On ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ season 2
In Legends of Tomorrow season 2, Mick’s place on the team was a central element of the story — especially toward the end of the season. In fact, many of the characters struggled to find a new place on the team, but Mick’s was the only one to be questioned.
Mick showed a lot of that surprising depth in this season as he struggled with grieving Snart’s death and figuring out whether he was going to become a hero as well. Mick got some delightful interactions with the various members of the team, including trying to make Ray his new partner and going Bonnie and Clyde with Amaya.
Let’s also never forget Mick’s hatred of Nazis.
Mick, in this season, also continued to prove himself one of the smartest members of the team in spite of the dummy facade he puts on. Mick likes to look like silly — eating all the time, anyone? — but he was Chronos; he’s no fool. He even befriended George Washington.
Admittedly, the team suddenly questioning Mick’s loyalty after the Legion of Doom recruited a past version of Snart to their side felt a bit disingenuous since he’d proven himself loyal numerous times over, but that’s easy enough to hand wave since the end result of Mick making the conscious choice to leave his past behind (in the form of Snart) and continue on with the Legends, his team, was so satisfying.
The Doomworld plot worked so well because Mick wasn’t satisfied — not with the one-sided partnership with Snart and not with being away from his team. He made a mistake in defecting to the League and he made up for it by putting things in motion to fix the problem.
No longer should the Legends question whether Mick Rory is loyal to them. And no longer is Mick Rory a comic boom caricature. He’s one of the most dynamic characters in the entire Arrowversse whose character arc has far surpassed anything viewers could have expected.