With the series premiere of [DC's Legends of Tomorrow](tag:2937021) just around the corner on The CW, I thought I'd take some time and break down the characters who will be making up this new team of heroes and villains alike. 7 days, 7 articles, with a new character in the spotlight each day.
Yesterday's character, and the fourth of our series, was The Atom, the incredible shrinking superhero and CEO of Palmer Industries.
Today we're taking a look at Captain Cold and Heat Wave, the elementally-charged, wild card duo that's more villainous than heroic.
The Origin Story
Leonard Snart, a.k.a. Captain Cold, was created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino and first appeared in Showcase #8 in June 1957. He's been a constant nemesis for The Flash, and was actually the first villain that the Silver Age incarnation of Barry Allen ever faced. He leads the Rogues, a loosely-connected criminal association that regularly battles The Flash. Since the New 52 reboot for DC, Captain Cold has been reimagined as a much younger man. Occasionally, just like in The Flash, Snart has been on the side of the "good" guys when it suits him, such as when he becomes a member of the Justice League after helping defeat the Crime Syndicate.
Broome and Infantino also created Mick Rory, a.k.a. Heat Wave, who first appeared in The Flash #140 in November 1963. Like Captain Cold, he's a member of the Rogues, though he was at first envisioned as a polar opposite to and rival of Leonard Snart. Whereas Captain Cold was controlled and deliberate, Heat Wave was erratic and unstable, obsessed with fire to the point that it overcame his better judgment from time to time. More recent versions of Heat Wave have changed his personality such that he now looks to Captain Cold to lead him and keep his pyromaniac obsessions under control.
Unlike some villains, Captain Cold has no actual powers of his own. His danger comes from the array of cold guns he uses, which enable him to shoot a cold beam of such intensity that it can freeze anything in its path. He can also manipulate them in multiple ways, including creating a cold field that can slow things down (including The Flash), laying down a layer of ice on the ground, making ice grenades, and creating cold mirages. Of all the ice-based villains in the DC universe, he's the only one who has managed to master reaching absolute zero. He's also a criminal mastermind and uses this to plan his crimes with a high degree of strategy.
In the first version of Heat Wave, he had no actual meta-human abilities. Like Captain Cold, his powers came from his custom-designed flamethrower. His weapon can create streams of fire of high intensity, enabling him to melt almost anything in his path. His suit is fire-proof, and can also project a stream of fire retardant at anything to put the flames out. However, in the New 52 version, Mick Rory gained true meta-human abilities when he figured out how to merge his DNA with his flamethrower, enabling him to shoot fire from his hands and project it naturally.
The Live Action Versions
The live action versions of Captain Cold and Heat Wave are played by Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell, respectively. Both were previously introduced as regular adversaries of Barry Allen on The Flash, though Leonard Snart has showed flashes of a good and heroic side, such as when he refused to kill Barry Allen and later warned him of the plot against his life, with the two even teaming up later for a mission.
The Arrowverse versions of the criminal duo are pulled from the more recent iterations of the comics, with Captain Cold being much younger than the original comic book version. The dynamic between Captain Cold and Heat Wave is also the same as it is in later comics, with Heat Wave looking to Captain Cold to help keep him under control and his unstable arsonist tendencies in check. But unlike the New 52 comic storylines, though the Rogues still exist and Leonard Snart is their leader, neither Captain Cold nor Heat Wave are meta-humans. They still require their weapons in order to do damage.
The Dirty Workers
In a team that's tasked with saving the world against almost impossible odds, you need one or two guys who are willing to, well...just wreck shit, basically. To be effective, the Legends will need the skillsets of Snart and Rory, even though they are the last two people you might think of when you hear the word "hero." What's more, they'll need the former Rogues' sometimes unscrupulous way of thinking.
While Heat Wave is basically happy as long as he's allowed to light fires and torch things, no matter where he does it, he's a wild card that will have to be kept in check. But in an all-out fight, Heat Wave's psychotic tendencies will actually work in their favor.
And saving the world gives Captain Cold the opportunity to let those latent heroic tendencies we've seen arise a few times in The Flash grow. Still, while he may have a good man buried deep down inside, he's firmly on the antihero end of the heroic spectrum. He might do the right thing, but he's still ruthless, and the team will need both his willingness to do the dirty work, and his careful control to keep Heat Wave on a leash.
They may be hard to control, and may not always seem as if they have the team's best interests at heart, but when it comes right down to it, there aren't two people the rest of the Legends would want beside them more in a fight than Captain Cold and Heat Wave.
So that was Captain Cold and Heat Wave! Check back tomorrow when I'll be breaking down Hawkgirl and Hawkman.