Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Thoughts on the Legion episode of Supergirl

The first thing is this: the title of the show is Supergirl, and, properly, that's who this episode was about. It's not a Legion show; it's a Supergirl show.

(Is it any good? Enh; it's fine. These Arrowverse shows aren't that great in general. They're serviceable, and we're fond of the characters, and that's been good enough so far.)

That said, it is a Legiony kind of spot for them to be in: they're being compelled by the logic of time travel to act in some antisuperheroic way, but they do the right thing in the end. Like in the Infinitus story in Justice League Whatchamathing. So that's fine. And there are some details mentioned that prove that the writers have read at least one Legion comic in their lives.

The problem is that the Legionnaires don't really do anything. Brainy makes some small talk in Supergirl's mind and pilots a Legion cruiser. Saturn Girl throws some weights around telekinetically. Mon-El gets encased in ice. That's about it. Really, what are they there for? Maybe the story's going somewhere that can get some use out of them, but it isn't there now.

As far as the individual portrayals of the Legionnaires... I haven't been a fan of this Mon-El depiction, but maybe they're building him into something more like the character we know rather than making him like that right off the bat. That would be okay. Saturn Girl... they don't seem to be getting anything out of her. If all they want is a love interest for Mon-El, why not use Shadow Lass? Or really anybody? This character doesn't seem to be telepathic, doesn't look like Saturn Girl, doesn't wear a pink costume, isn't a hardass... in what sense is she Saturn Girl? This is not a knock on the actress, by the way, who seems fine. It's just that she doesn't have a part to play.

Brainiac 5, on the other hand, I kind of like. I didn't have high hopes when I saw what he was going to look like, but he won me over. Resembles the animated Brainy more than any of the other versions. In particular he doesn't have the arrogance of the reboot, threeboot, and retroboot Brainys, which I think is a good choice. Those who were hoping that his appearance on this show would lead to a Kara-Brainy romance are bound to be disappointed, though, because a) I don't see this show making a guy who looks like this Brainy a romantic lead, and b) Silver-Age-comics Kara might have gone for the nonthreatening dreamers like Brainy or Jerro the merboy, but contemporary-TV Kara prefers buff men of action like James Olsen or Mon-El. Notice how far Winn got with her in Season 1? (It's to Kara's credit that she wasn't interested in him, actually; he was acting like quite the creeper for a couple of episodes there.)

I'm watching the show anyway, so if there's anything else for me to comment on with regards to the Legion, I will. But I hold to my opinion that what the Legion needs is either a regular comic book of their own, or an animated series of their own. Random guest appearances do not allow the team to appear to their full potential as superhero characters, especially when they're appearing in something where someone else is clearly the main character. It needs to be an ongoing series to highlight the large cast, and it needs to be a comic book or cartoon so that you don't have to skimp on special effects, fake your way through the no-win situation of trying to portray superhero costumes in real life, or have a small regular cast that must appear in X number of episodes. Things like this Supergirl episode are all very well if you just like seeing the Legion anywhere at all and don't mind that it's not actually a good Legion story, but I'd like to watch or read a good Legion story.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe not exactly to the point, but a big cast doesn't seem to make them stronger, but only weaker whenever they are guest-starring in comics or somewhere else. I like this "Saturn Girl" very much, but yeah, she can be anyone, just not Saturn Girl! However, I beg to differ on the possibility of Brainy-Kara romance, I can TOTALLY see the sparks (at least from Brainy) and I'm on this ship already LOL.

6:52 AM  
Anonymous Nina said...

Failed to fill in my name somehow. This comment is posted by me. ^_^

7:01 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Well, they're as strong as the writer wants them to be, in whatever story they're in. They don't need to be numerous to be strong; they need to be numerous to be the Legion!

7:18 AM  
Blogger Jim Drew said...

So, which Legion comic do you think they had read? (grin)

I can understand why they gave Imra the telekinetic powers -- TV is a more visual medium than comics and having her just standing there, hands on temples, is limiting.

The only reason I can see for not casting the actress as Tasmia instead is a false "need" for one of the founders to be involved. That would have been mid-level on fans "want" list but way down on the "need" list -- they could have given us familiar-looking and powered Montress, Magno, and Tyroc and there would have been less griping. (Okay, it's fandom, there would have been plenty of griping.)

We should look at this as the start of a quarter or half season arc and puzzle out what the Legion's presence is going to do to or for Supergirl. For one, it will allow her to move through and past Mon-El, and maybe give her a remote love interest in Brainy, as well as helping with Reign and the other Worldkillers, but in what other way can we expect Kara to be in a different, likely better place after this arc?

1:28 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I'm also wondering if we're going to see maybe-XS from The Flash come out of one of those tubes.

1:35 PM  
Blogger Phantom Stranger said...

Supergirl as a show has never really respected any comic book versions of the guest characters they bring on.

Watching the show it's pretty clear most of the more familiar characters are riffs on versions from other TV and movie adaptations. You also get the distinct impression the writing staff doesn't read actual DC Comic books from how the show has turned out.

When they do bring on a character straight from the comics - they rarely get much right beyond the gender and name.

2:54 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

It’s true. I’m still hoping they get around to rehabilitating Red Tornado.

6:14 AM  
Blogger NicoleT said...

It's weird; I really haven't minded a lot of the changes the CW made to the Legion. I've been trying to view it as for all intents and purposes a new reboot, one that (like the threeboot) I don't love, but I also don't hate either.

But I the thing I really can't get past is how the Legion was founded by Mon. Doesn't that kind of undermine what makes the Legion so special? It isn't a group of kids being taken on as sidekicks or forming their own sidekick group (I've noticed especially in D.C. teens rarely if ever become heroes of their own volition). The Legion is a group of people who came together with inspiration from 21st century heroes because they wanted to do good in the galaxy. No 21st century hero founded them or mentored them. They became heroes all on their own and because they wanted to. It's one of the most defining features of the Legion. But with Mon as the founder..

4:30 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Yeah. But there’s no reason to expect these guys to have that as a priority. They’re ahead of the game just by getting Supergirl right.

4:41 PM  

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