Being anti-Arrow (I really can’t stand Stephen Amell’s acting) and lukewarm on Flash, I actually found myself interested in watching the cross-over TV series Legends of Tomorrow because TIME TRAVEL. I enjoy time travel stories, and the rag tag team of superheroes and villains going on this adventure seems rife with potential.
Even better, watching this cross-over series doesn’t require you having seen all the Flash or Arrow episodes. Sure, you won’t know all the characters’ background story arcs, but the story starts in media res and you will learn more as you go. That being said, I did ask my husband (an avid Arrow and Flash fan) several questions while we were watching, but I’m sure I could have easily found out that information from a quick Google search too.
The first episode is an 1 hour and 20 minutes long, and part two of the pilot airs next Thursday, January 28th on the CW. You can watch the first episode online here. Using the Her Story Arc Scale of Inclusivity I’ve documented my first impressions of the show below:
Not offensive to women = 1 pts*
In this first episode I did not find anything offensive with how the women characters were written or filmed. However, I do have some misgivings regarding the future of one of the story arcs, which I’ll talk about more later.
Features a woman as the main protagonist and/or supporting character = 2 pts
Of the eight heroes/villains selected to be on the team, two of them are women. Fans of Arrow will recognize White Canary instantly, as she has been a prominent character in that show for a long time. White Canary is a more wholesome and good reincarnation of Black Canary, who operated in a grey area of superherodom much like Arrow himself. In other words, White Canary is trying to reinvent herself and shed some of the darkness from her past, while still utilizing her bad ass assassin training.
Fans of Flash and Arrow are already familiar with Hawkgirl due to multiple cross-over episodes for both shows featuring how she discovers her powers. For the uninitiated like myself, it is helpful to know the story arc of those episodes which you can read up on here or find to watch online.
Hawkgirl has huge wings she can make appear at any moment, allowing her to fly and giving her greater leverage and strength while fighting.
I also appreciated that during one of the first scenes there were multiple women shown in the political hearing (for lack of a better spoiler free term) which shows an awareness of casting non-speaking roles. In so many ways it is equally important to have gender parity among extras as it is among the main roles.
Passes the Bechdel test = 3 pts
Yes, during this episode Black Canary (who becomes White Canary) has a conversation with her sister as she debates a decision that will change her fate.
Artistic and/or Entertaining = 2 pts
I walked away from the first episode with my interest minorly piqued, but with the feeling that they tried to put too much stuff into one episode. I dislike info dumps when I’m reading a book as much as when I’m watching a show or movie. Decisions were made really quickly with character motivations overly-emphasized, and characters were introduced rapid fire with no breathe taken in between. This is probably where having watched Flash and Arrow helps a bit. However, I’m hopeful that now the the housekeeping is all out of the way the show can begin to pick up strength with part two of the pilot.
There is one story arc that I’m not thrilled about though, and it involves Hawkgirl and Hawkman. Without giving too much away, Hawkman is in a position of power over Hawkgirl due to an imbalance in historical knowledge, and seeks to force her into a relationship with him that she is clearly uncomfortable with.
In the image below you see the pair jump into a fight, which Hawkman has goaded Hawkgirl into by bragging she cannot win against him. Throughout the episode Hawkgirl resists and stands up for herself, which is good. But their relationship dynamic has me on the uncomfortable side of the scale, and could easily turn into blatantly offensive later on.
Above and Beyond General Media = 2 pts
Being only the first episode, and given how much was going on, there was not a whole lot of time spent on things that I would call “above and beyond”. The two points I’ve awarded this category are primarily for the scenes with White Canary. When she is introduced we see firsthand her unique skill set as she defends a young woman from unwanted advances. We learn later that she is bisexual or lesbian when she expresses interest in an attractive woman whilst in the middle of defending herself from unwanted advances from a burly man. In the same scene we also see Heat Wave and Captain Cold respect her request to stand back and let her handle it. They only jump in when she says “Ok, now I could use a little help!” when a whole mob of people start coming her way.
Where Hawkgirl is concerned, I am glad they chose a woman of color to play the role and I’m glad the character is standing up for herself against Hawkman. There is also a good scene where she uses force to hold someone accountable for their actions, and discover the truth.
So all in all, episode one earns 10 out of 15 possible points on the Scale of Inclusivity, which translates to me being cautiously optimistic. We’ll see if they can bump their score up by the end of the season!
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*This is a category that could get very complicated, very quickly, if we tried to list everything that could be offensive to women. Instead, we use this category as a way of showing our own personal reaction to whatever we are reviewing. All contributors to this site are women and can speak from a woman’s perspective. However, no woman can speak for all women so we do our best to explain our choice one way or the other. We encourage all readers to share their opinions in the comments of every post if they want to express agreement or disagreement with our rankings.