Since its first season, Supergirl has been teasing the live-action debut of one of DC Comics’ greatest teams: the Legion of Super-Heroes. We first glimpsed the signature Legion flight ring in the Fortress of Solitude in Season 1. Team leader Mon-El was introduced in Season 2. Finally, Season 3’s midseason premiere gave us a team-up with Mon-El, Saturn Girl, and Brainiac-5. While the Legion will continue to feature in Supergirl’s war against Reign, we think they deserve a show of their own. Let’s look at why, and what it would mean for the CW’s Arrowverse.
Who Are the Legion?
In the comics, the Legion of Super-Heroes are a club of super-powered beings from the 30th and 31st centuries. Originally a group of super-powered teenagers inspired by Superboy’s heroics, they were fleshed out over time and became very important to the DC Universe. Supergirl travelled to the future and became a member where they fought mega-villain Darkseid in an iconic story in 1982. Their roster has since swelled to include dozens of unique characters, from founders Lightning Lad, Cosmic Boy, and Saturn Girl to Phantom Girl, Bouncing Boy, Chameleon Boy, and many others.
In Supergirl, Mon-El, the team’s founder and leader is joined by his wife Imra Ardeen, aka Saturn Girl, and Querl Dox, aka Brainiac-5. The midseason premiere also dropped a reference to Ayla Ranzz, aka Lightning Lass. Like their comic counterparts, the team hails from the 31st century. Stuck in the past after a trip through time, the team has stepped up to help Kara battle the Worldkiller Reign. Once that’s done, the Legion will almost certainly return to their time to face the Blight, which is apparently menacing Earth in the future.
So why do they need their own show?
They’re Too Big for Supergirl
The Legion are a fantastic group of characters, but they won’t work on Supergirl for very long. The biggest reason for this is that Kara will – and should – always be the show’s main focus. Mon-El’s arc has been in service of Kara’s development. Their romance powered much of Season 2, and the fallout from their separation has set the tone for the current season. Even when the spotlight moves, it’s towards characters like Alex Danvers or J’onn J’onnz. Trying to tell more stories about the Legion would inevitably shortchange Kara and her supporting cast.
But equally important is the fact that the Legionnaires themselves are a diverse and fascinating group. Their list of members rivals Marvel’s X-Men. Any number of them could headline their own series. As an ensemble, they could provide fodder for years worth of programming. If the Legion is going to be explored properly, they need a corner of the Arrowverse to call their own.
The Arrowverse Needs to Branch Out
When Arrow debuted in 2012, no one expected that it would be the harbinger of a massive shift in the TV landscape. Its success opened the floodgates and launched a golden age of superhero shows. Some new shows are moving in innovative new directions, like FX’s Legion or the shows that make up Netflix’s Defenders lineup.
The Arrowverse, meanwhile, has mostly adhered to a tried-and-true formula. Arrow, The Flash, and Supergirl all revolve around lone heroes and their supporting cast, with villains of the week and a home base with a computer hacker who relays advice during intense battles. Only Legends of Tomorrow escapes these tropes.
The CW’s Black Lightning also breaks the mould completely. It dispenses with an origin story and villains of the week. Reaction to the show is overwhelmingly positive due, in no small part, to its willingness to move beyond the familiar strokes of CW superhero programming. If the Arrowverse is going to keep up, it needs to evolve. The animated entries Vixen, Freedom Fighters: The Ray, and the upcoming Constantine show a willingness to change, but it needs to happen in live-action too.
The Legion need no origin story – they’re already fully formed on Supergirl. They operate in the far future, which presumably looks radically different from the four different versions of Vancouver, Canada that we see every week. Their roster is made up of aliens and metahumans with bizarre powers, like Triplicate Girl, Matter-Eater Lad, and Arm-Fall-Off-Boy. A well-executed Legion series would be like nothing we’ve seen, either in the Arrowverse or anywhere else. It would be the breath of fresh air that The CW’s shared universe needs.
They’ll Work Best on TV
The fact that Supergirl has been allowed to use Mon-El and the Legion is a sure sign that DC Films has no interest in the property. That’s for the best, however, since a movie series would scarcely hope to do the team justice. The Legion usually features in sprawling epics that need more time than a film can provide.
The Legion of Super-Heroes also has too many characters to build a two-hour feature around. These days, superhero team-up films are feeling increasingly overstuffed. Even Crisis on Earth-X had to under-utilize characters like Ray Palmer and Wally West. It would be sad to see a Legion movie that was really only about Saturn Girl or Lightning Lad.
Of course, there’s a separate obstacle to a Legion TV show: oversaturation. With the debut of Black Lightning, The CW now has five DC Comics series on its slate. There are so many, in fact, that Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow need to share a timeslot.
With Vertigo’s iZombie and the Archie Comics-inspired Riverdale also going strong, the network is unlikely to commit to yet another comic book property. But just as Riverdale‘s Sabrina-centric spin-off is set to appear on Netflix, it’s possible that Mon-El and his compatriots could have a life in streaming too. Perhaps it could also appear on Netflix or even DC’s new service which will be home to the upcoming Titans. Wherever it lands, hopefully, one way or the other, we will get to see the Legion of Super-Heroes in all their glory.