Monday, May 18, 2015

Ten Thoughts About Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow

Last week was a good week for fans of DC television shows with not one, but two previews of upcoming fall super-hero series.

Supergirl (from CBS):

And Legends of Tomorrow (a CW Arrow/Flash spinoff featuring the Atom (or A.T.O.M. if you prefer), White Canary, Firestorm, Hawkgirl, and Flash Rogues Captain Cold and Heatwave as a team brought together by contractual convenience Rip Hunter, Time Master:

Here are my thoughts, in completely random order.

Starting with Legends of Tomorrow:

1. I'm hep to the concept. This sounds like it's going to be a sort of Doctor Who's Suicide Squad, and you know what? I think that's an awesome premise with a lot of room to do cool episodes set in historical locales. I eagerly await the second season Titanic-based episode. ;)

2. Am I the only one who finds the Iron Man-ization of the Atom a bit annoying? I mean, I get it — people love them some Robert Downey Jr. Iron Man, and it's not like Ray Palmer's personality (as represented in the comics) has a lot of hooks, but every time Brandon Routh makes one of his Billionaire Software genius jokes, I sort of cringe. On the flipside, he also has this awkward tech geek thing going on which helps a bit (though that's a trope that's getting old as well...)

3. The White Canary - I'm not familiar with this relatively new DC character, so I can't say much about other than the name will help viewers connect the character to the Black Canary. God help them if they try to unravel the connection past the name though. Still, it will be great to see Caity Lotz back on a weekly series. She was one of the outstanding players on Season 2 of Arrow.

4. Hawkgirl. Well, I would have rather scene Black Orchid or Zatanna here, but I'm glad they included another woman on the team. Who wants to bet they'll upgrade her powers in some fashion as the show goes on?

5. Captain Cold/Heat Wave - like Caity Lotz, Wentworth Miller is one of those actors who can save almost any show for me (except Dinotopia, which I suspect he no longer puts on his resume.) Pairing him with Dominic Purcell (his television brother from Prison Break) was a cute gimmick on the Flash.

And while the Heatwave character hasn't given Purcell much to work with, Miller's Captain Cold has been a blast to watch on the Flash. Even in this trailer, he manages to steal a few scenes.

Now on to Supergirl:

6. As tonally different as the Flash was from Arrow, so is this show from either of those two. This definitely has a "television show aimed at women - as produced by CBS" feel to it. Someone called it Ally McBeal with a cape, and while they meant that as an insult, I'd have to say that sounds like a combo that would make a lot of people happy. In my household, both my wife and 9-year-old daughter liked the preview.

7. I also think the show will appeal to those disenfranchised Superman fans who felt Man of Steel betrayed their hero. As to me, I think the preview made it look like a fun show, so count me in. :)

8. Nice to see both Helen Slater and Dean Cain will have a role in the pilot (as the Kara's adoptive parents.) I guess we've reached a point where in fandom, if you've ever played a role in a DC television series, there may be an opportunity for you to play another role in a DC television series. So, how long before we see Smallville's Tom Welling in a DC series? (Wouldn't it be cool if he did a cameo as Superman in this Supergirl series?!)

9. Is Vartox going to be in the Pilot?  Screenrant has a nice Easter Eggs round-up that suggests the first villain of the series will be the Sean Connery-inspired Bronze Age Superman foe. They also have a screenshot that alludes to other extraterrestrial threats. I think that if the show goes for a ET Freak of the Week vibe (initially) that will help viewers get grounded in the show. Then they can branch out from there.

10. Will either show be a hit? That will depend on ratings and how much stock each network puts into those ratings. One of the things that has constantly plagued ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is that ABC has higher ratings expectations than the CW. Will CBS have similar expectations for Supergirl? How have such shows fared on the big three networks in the past? Heroes did quite well initially. And going back further, so did Lois and Clark. Still, CBS earned its reputation as the "old people's network" the hard way, and I don't see them shaking that anytime soon. Supergirl might not be what the viewers of CSI or NCIS are looking for.

— Jim


Trey said...

I'm optimistic about both these shows as well, though Legends has an odd mix of characters and Supergirl appears to be partially in a genre that is somewhat less appealing to me.

Jim Shelley said...

@Trey - I agree on both counts. Given my druthers, I would have preferred to see The Outsiders or Doom Patrol come to the small screen than this somewhat dubious collection of characters we are getting here in Legends.

As for Supergirl - I think for some comic fans, it will be a show that may tend towards boring unless one has a smartphone in their hands at all times. ;)

Unknown said...

I love that Supergirl is more geared towards women. All though, I was talking to a friend of mine over the weekend about it and she is a pretty big Supergirl fan. She mentioned that she'd more prefer they don't gear it towards women and just make a good Supergirl show. She didn't like the forced sappy love stuff. I found that very interesting.

Did you see in the Legends of Tomorrow trailer that the on going villian, at least for the first season, was going to be Vandal Savage? Very cool. I also am not that big of a fan of A.T.O.M. lol I was excited to see him shrink in the trailer though.

I was actually reading about Season 2 of Flash and they said they may dive a little into parallel universes and one of them maybe the Smallville Universe with Tom Welling reprising his role as now a well known Superman! *Fingers crossed.

Caine said...

Jim I think you nailed it with "contractually bound" to be a part of LEGENDS OF TOMORROW. I realize that were in a new "superhero tv boom" here but Legends doesn't have a single solid DCU character as it's anchor. Firestorm seems to be the biggest hero on that team and its the professor half who is represented on all counts. I think Legends will have the same uphill battle that any new scifi or cop show has: They will have to earn excellent ratings and connect with fans right out of the gate and they will have to do it without the help of a solid "Named" character that everyone knows.

You might say that Arrow (Green Arrow) isn't a solid name character that everyone knows either but the show ARROW had a hook: it was essentially Batman with a bow and hood instead of a cape and cowl.

The Flash is a named character that pretty much everybody knows and it has one hell of a story engine to keep the episodes building on one another. I think Legends has one hell of an uphill battle but it's a battle I'll be tuning in to watch.

Supergirl looks like it has quite a story engine as well and I'm betting that Warner Bros likes having a "Super" character on tv while we anxiously await BatVSup to come out in the theater.

Jim Shelley said...

@StevieB - Yeah, I'm pretty psyched to see what they do with Vandal Savage. He and Per Degaton should get some good play in the series!

Also, that's interesting about the Smallville rumor for Flash. I would love to see that.

Jim Shelley said...

@Caine - we are both on the same page with our eyebrow raising from the list of heroes they are using. I mean, I get it, most of these heroes have already been exposed to the audience, but it feels like such a mish mosh.

On the flipside, maybe that's what will keep the show interesting - not knowing how the characters will interact. If it was just The Outsiders, we (comic fans) would already sort of know what the vibe of the story arcs would be like. Here, it's all up for grabs.

Reno said...

I really don't understand all the online negativity towards the Supergirl trailer. I've seen a lot of sentiments that say comics should cater to women and children, too. But when a show based on a comic book does exactly that, people still complain. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

And you just know those people complaining will still be tuning in to watch the show when it goes on air.

As for Legends, I think the disparity of the characters will make for some interesting interactions between the cast, if they can execute it well. Plus, Caity Lotz. I'm sold!

MattComix said...

With the Supergirl trailer I liked the Supergirl aspects but not the Devil Wears Prada aspects. I'm glad that her being Superman's cousin is not being glossed over and I hope he has some kind of substantial role rather than doing everything from a distance or just having Kara stare wistfully at a poster of him. These two are family and I think you can show that relationship without losing the fact that it's her show and not his.

As for Legends Of Tomorrow I don't like villains on hero teams. It's one thing if your Thunderbolts or Suicide Squad but this is the first team of a budding version of the DCU. This just reminds me of the problems with modern team books where the teams feel more like just an assemblage of combatants than a gathering of heroes. It's more like a pro-wrestling faction than a superteam IMO.

I gotta say though having Arthur Darvill as Rip Hunter is a nice touch. It's winkish casting but a good kind of winkish casting.

Secret-HQ said...

I don't know that the team on "Legends of Tomorrow" is meant to be an anchoring fixture of the DCTVU. It looks more like a gathering of heroes one might see in an event comic, assembled to stop a specific threat. I suspect (and hope) that if they do a second season, they'll have a different cast entirely. (My personal preference would be to schedule this show as a donut filler in between broken-up seasons of "Arrow" and "Flash" -- or to save it for next summer.)

Trey said...

Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver were once villains and they became Avengers. Rogue became an X-Man.

I don't really think prominence within the comics world means a lot. Outside of comics fandom, very few characters are known. Iron Man, Hawkeye, and Black Widow certainly weren't widely known. I suspect a lot of noncomics fans were only vaguely aware of Captain America, if at all. It's what you do with the characters that's important.

Jim Shelley said...

@MattComix - I wouldn't hold my breath on Superman appearing in the Supergirl series - for two reasons: One, I believe the producers will want to keep a safe narrative distance between Kara and her cousin so that she's not see as a sidekick or second banana. (Which is a good thing.) Second, IF they did bring him in, you get into the whole TV Flash/Movie Flash mess that is causing some fans angst currently.

As it is, I think they can use what they have to make a compelling show. Maybe for a Season finale, she could get some advice from Kal-El (via a scrambled computer chat link or some other form of television obfuscation.

WHAT might work (but would annoy people two...) is if Kara and Kal-El sent TEXTS to each other and his texts appeared on the screen as a sort of secondary narrator.

Jim Shelley said...

@Reno - Yeah, I believe making a show about a woman in this day and age is just going to be one of those things some people like to throw rocks at. Witness the recent Mad Mad controversy because some of the lead characters were women. (I'm simplifying the arguments people had with the movie, but it deserves simplification...)

MattComix said...

@Jim. But thats my whole point. Having him as a reoccurring character on the show does not HAVE to make Kara a second banana and would feel so much more organic than Superman seeming to be unwilling to have face to face contact with his only living blood relative who is a young person taking their first steps into the hero life. In a world that can have Firestorm on The Flash surely we can do better than being coy about having Clark in Kara's life.

As far as the movies go, chalk it up to taking place on Earth whatever. The Flash finale even hints at "Flash of Two Worlds".

The multiverse concept is kind of unwieldy beast but maybe tv and movies could keep a reign on it in a way the comics typically can't or won't.

Rose said...
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