Legends of Tomorrow Thrives When There Are 'No Rules,' Says Brandon Routh

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Recommending Legends of Tomorrow to a friend usually comes with one caveat: Don’t judge it on the first season. This fact isn’t lost on anyone—especially star Brandon Routh, who plays Ray Palmer. He says the moment the show stopped trying to make sense was the instant it became legendary.

“By the second season, we decided, there really are no rules. That was the biggest shift, not tying ourselves into having that finite end. And that’s when the show really blossomed, and we as actors let go as well,” Routh said.

In an interview with Syfy Wire, Routh talked about the wild ride that has been the first three seasons of Legends of Tomorrow. The first season might have been a chore, but the rest of it has been everything-but-the-kitchen-sink spectacular. (How many shows end a season with a giant blue stuffed animal [spoiler]? All glory to Beebo.) Routh admitted that he and many others on the show were frustrated with the first season, mainly because they’d boxed themselves in with the Vandal Savage storyline. By centering the conflict around one villain, the storyline became repetitive and they couldn’t play around with the time travel.

They had created this idea that Vandal Savage was going to be the season-long bad guy, and they had kind of written themselves into a problem because they couldn’t kill him until the end, and then the world couldn’t be as open. It was more finite. And the writers were frustrated because they couldn’t write stories that they wanted and they were stuck with the decision that they had made at the beginning, and the actors were frustrated because things didn’t make sense to them about the story.


Of course, all of that changed in the second season. The writers tossed out the book, they threw the time doors wide open and did whatever the hell they wanted. Routh said the writers could’ve stuck with doing the same old thing, which would’ve been the safer albeit more stubborn bet, but instead they took a chance and let the show evolve into something else entirely. This choice gave us eternal treasures like a baby E.T. Denominator, Elvis Presley the Ghostbuster, and yes, even Beebo (all glory to).

Of course, having a show about time travel that has “no rules” is admittedly risky. What do you do about show canon? How can you possibly establish a cohesive show timeline when everything is moving around and nothing is consistent? According to Routh, and basically every Legends of Tomorrow fan in the world, *insert shoulder shrug here*:

I just let that roll. Shows like The Flash, or Altered Carbon, they have strict rules about things, and you can go and follow the rules. Without the rules, it kind of falls apart. But with ours, I hope the audience is going, “Whatever happens, this is entertaining. I want to laugh, and have my emotional load for the day lightened.” I think we’ve all embraced that, which allowed the show to become something greater than it was envisioned at the beginning.


Routh also talked a bit about next season. While he doesn’t know anything about it yet, he does have some things he’s either working on or hoping for. He said he’s particularly excited about how his character will fit in with next season’s magical storylines involving John Constantine. He said that normally a character like his, the stuffy scientist, would balk at the idea of magic, but Routh asked the writers to make his character more open to the craft.

“I think the inclination would be to maybe make him go opposite—because he’s such a science guy and magic can’t be proven—but I think the opposite of that,” Routh said. “I told the writers that I think Ray should embrace the magic aspect of it, because he wants to understand it and figure it out through science. See if there is a way, not push it away.”


Legends of Tomorrow has been renewed for a fourth season and is expected to return sometime in early 2019.