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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Lazy storytelling plagues Legends Of Tomorrow’s trip to Star City’s future

Illustration for article titled Lazy storytelling plagues Legends Of Tomorrow’s trip to Star City’s future

Up until tonight’s episode, DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow has primarily focused on exploring the past of the Arrowverse, but “Star City 2046” is the show’s first chapter to take Rip’s team to the future. That future looks a lot like the set of Arrow covered in garbage. This series’ budget limitations show in this episode, and the cheapness carries over to the script, which heavily relies on Arrow’s mythology to create stakes in the main story. Star City is in flames after Slade Wilson’s son, Grant, became the new Deathstroke and led an army into the city, and Sara Lance refuses to sit back and watch her home city crumble. She teams up with the new Green Arrow, Connor Hawke (née John Diggle, Jr.), to search for the missing Oliver Queen, and when she finds her old friend, they catch up the best way they know how: by jumping into action and kicking some ass.

Stephen Amell is less captivating as a performer when he’s all gruff and broody, and that’s Oliver Queen’s mode in this episode, living alone in the shadows where he mourns the loss of his arm, allies, and city. Putting Amell in old age make-up and a fake beard is a risky move, and unfortunately it doesn’t pay off. Amell puts some effort into aging his voice, but not his physicality, so Oliver still reads as a younger man during action sequences and from angles that don’t show his face. An older actor with an actual beard would have probably been a better choice for creating a more believable old man Oliver, although it is fun to see Amell looking more like the comic-book interpretation of the Green Arrow.

An important character in Green Arrow’s comic mythos makes his Arrowverse debut in “Star City 2046,” but Connor Hawke has undergone some major changes in the jump from the page to the screen. He’s no longer Oliver’s son, but the son of Oliver’s best friend John Diggle, which also means he’s not white anymore. Joseph David-Jones does solid work channeling the personalities of both Connor’s father and his superhero inspiration, Oliver, in his performance, but the script’s explanation for why the character goes by Connor Hawke is one of the episode’s clumsiest moments. John Diggle, Sr. died because his son wasn’t able to save him, so instead of keeping his father’s name, John, Jr. now goes by Connor Hawke. There’s no context for why he has this new name or where it comes from, and it ends up being a very forced way of giving the character a comic-book connection when he could have easily gone by John Diggle, Jr. and it wouldn’t have made any big difference.

Coincidentally, Entertainment Weekly reported today that Finn Jones would be playing Danny “Iron Fist” Rand in the upcoming Iron Fist Netflix, a decision that is receiving criticism because the comic book version of Danny is a prime example of the Mighty Whitey trope. Many were hoping that Marvel would cast an Asian-American actor as Danny, which would help remove the Orientalism and cultural appropriation from his story and improve representation for Asian-Americans in superhero properties, but Marvel decided to stick to the source material. Marvel’s decision makes it all the more refreshing to see a person of color step into the role of Connor Hawke, even if it’s not technically the same character. It’s not that hard to bring some extra diversity to these superhero shows, and while it may require some adjusting of established characters, those adjustments could bring out brand new sides of those heroes.

Time travel mechanics are notoriously confusing, and writers Marc Guggenheim and Ray Utarnachitt do a lousy job explaining why the team’s action in the future can have a detrimental effect on the timeline. It’s not clear what does or doesn’t leave a mark on the timeline, or why some futures are potential while others are guaranteed. Superhero time travel is all fake nonsense science that is ultimately malleable to the needs of the story, so it’s understandable why the writers aren’t getting too specific, but it’s also frustrating when Rip throws down a vague time travel rule without a good reason for it to be a rule. They’re the rules because the writers need a way to make the characters’ actions matter in whatever time period they’re in, so Rip gets a few lines about how the team’s actions could make this potential future become a reality.

The main plot of “Star City 2046” is lazy, but it’s still the kind of episode I’ve been hoping to see, delving deeper into the team dynamics by giving the characters’ a break from stopping a dystopian future. Snart and Mick’s partnership is severely tested when Mick decides to go rogue and become a gang leader in the burning Star City, and by the end of the episode, Snart has firmly situated himself on the side of the angels dedicated to stopping Vandal Savage. Snart’s internal conflict is one of the most interesting things about this series, and it’s nice to see the writers delving further into that and using it to create tension between the two bad guys on the team.


Kendra is regrettably cast as an object of affection for Jax and Ray for most of the episode, but this romantic subplot provides an opening for some good scenes between the two men and Martin, who is trying to be Jax’s wingman by dissuading Ray from pursuing a romance. The bond between Martin and Jax is strengthened considerably by showing how they interact in an ordinary situation, and the script has a lot of fun with their psychic connection. The resolution of this subplot makes up for Kendra being once again thrust into a romantic role by having her turn down Ray’s date invitation, and she explicitly states that her life is so crazy right now that she has no interest in adding a new relationship on top of that. Ciara Renée is starting to get more comfortable with the character, and hopefully now that Kendra has firmly established a no-romance stance, the show will start exploring her character outside of her connection to men.

Stray observations

  • How can the major idea of this week’s main plot be that every future is worth fighting for when the entire premise of the show is a team fighting to stop a specific future from coming to pass? That’s just sloppy.
  • I don’t know how old actor Jamie Andrew Cutler is, but Grant Wilson looks pretty young to have led an uprising 15 years ago.
  • Nobody has seen Oliver Queen since the uprising, but he’s been hiding out in his old lair the old time, so nobody has been looking all that hard for him.
  • This is a great episode for Dominic Purcell, who is clearly having a blast letting Mick’s wild side loose. I also love that Mick names his henchmen Fonzie and Kenickie.