I saw The Avengers: Age of Ultron last night, a week after it came out in theaters, and it was fun. Over-bloated and a little nonsensical, but a lot of fun. But also a little worrying. Because about twenty minutes into the movie, a thought crossed my mind that had never crossed my mind during any super hero movie before it: I don’t need this. I really do not need this.
Back in 2012, I saw The Avengers at midnight the second it debuted, and believe you me, I fucking needed it. Comic books have been such a large part of my life since I can remember. The first Iron Man blew my mind. There’s an unconfirmed report of me tearing up during The Dark Knight. So when the first Avengers came out during my college final exam days, I literally left the library and went straight to the theater. I’m not even sure I brought my stuff with me. But I wasn’t going to miss this, because this was major. This was important, this was the biggest comic book move in history and this amazing feeling was going to last foreeeeeever.
Well, unfortunately and seemingly against my will, that feeling didn’t last forever. It’s already starting to wane. No, actually, I think it’s starting to buckle under the weight. Because not only was I watching the movie last night, I was watching teases for Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther, AND Avengers: Infinity War (Parts 1 & 2) inside the movie. This is in addition to the not one, not two, but three trailers I watched for upcoming comic book movies before Age of Ultron even started. And then I go home, and if I so desired I could turn to pretty much any TV station and have my fill of even more super heroes. ABC, NBC, CW, CBS, FOX, Netflix, the PlayStation Network, the whole lot of ’em.
It’s just become exhausting. The news that The CW green-lit DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is that exhausting feeling, times about a billion.
Legends of Tomorrow will be CW’s forth comic book show on the air, it’s third from DC. It’s a spin-off from both Arrow and The Flash and has been described thusly:
When heroes alone are not enough… the world needs legends. Having seen the future, one he will desperately try to prevent from happening, time-traveling rogue Rip Hunter is tasked with assembling a disparate group of both heroes and villains to confront an unstoppable threat – one in which not only is the planet at stake, but all of time itself. Can this ragtag team defeat an immortal threat unlike anything they have ever known?
Now, when they say ragtag they mean RAGTAG with a capital RAGTAG. Besides that rogue Rip Hunter (seriously, how easy is it to be described as a rogue these days), the team will consist of Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller), Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell), Atom (Brandon Routh), Hawkgirl (Ciara Renee), and DC won’t divulge who actress Caity Lotz is playing, but it’s probably Black Canary even though The Canary is kind of…dead. Oh, and Victor Garber as half of Firestorm. It’s a long story.
Now, please, stop me if you got to any of those names and were pumped to see them get their own show. “No way, Heat Wave? It’s finally happening?!” As much as I kind of enjoy Wentworth Miller, there’s no denying Captain Cold is a guy with an ice-gun and a winter coat from Sears. Bear in mind, most of these characters have already appeared in some form on Arrow and The Flash, so its not like there’s no outlet for your Atom fix. I might also point out that DC has never branded any of their shows with “DC’s” preceding the title, and I suspect they started with Legends of Tomorrow just so people had some idea what they were getting into.
The whole thing screams of, I don’t know, doing it just to do it? Putting all your eggs in one basket, and then dousing that basket in radiation until the eggs have super powers? It’s a sign of scraping the proverbial bottom of the barrel to get while the gettins’ good and this super hero trend still makes the big bucks. But is it a snake that eats its own tail? If studios keep keep nabbing these increasingly obscure titles just to be the first to do so, how long until they land on a title that just isn’t worth watching? Is it when Zoo Crew premieres on Hulu in 2017? (That’s not actually happening, but would you even be surprised?)
At this point, Legends of Tomorrow has to be amazing to justify it’s existence, and that sucks. Because as good to great it’s been since Iron Man took over the world in 2008, I feel like the super hero genre is in a shaky place, where the first big bomb is going to take out an institution that we’re kind of stuck with until at least 2020. I never wanted super heroes to become a chore, because when done right there is nothing more fun, and I will gladly eat crow if Legends of Tomorrow turns out to be the greatest thing since sliced Dredd. But right now, seeing The Avengers at midnight in 2012 already seems like forever ago, and we still have a long, long ways to go.