With the series premiere of [DC's Legends of Tomorrow](tag:2937021) debuting tonight 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 characters, and the sixth of our series, were Hawkgirl and Hawkman, the winged, reincarnated ancient Egyptians with a bit of an identity crisis.
Today I'm taking a look at the immortal, time-traveling villain that's bringing them all together: Vandal Savage.
The Origin Story
Vandal Savage first appeared in December of 1944 in Green Lantern vol. 1 #10. He was created by Alfred Bester and Martin Nodell and has since become one of DC's greatest villains. He was born a prehistoric caveman named Vandar Adg, but when he was subjected to the radiation of a mysterious meteorite, it granted him immortality and a genius-level intellect. Since then, he's gone on to sow discord, violence, and death through the millennia, with his first impact on recorded history being when he led a group of people into destroying the lost nation-state of Atlantis. That group of people became the Illuminati, and as their leader, Vandal Savage has ruled under various names as countless dictators and warlords throughout history.
In essence, Vandal Savage has no true superpowers aside from the fact that he's immortal, having survived for over 50,000 years. The same meteorite that granted him immortality also granted him a small measure of enhanced speed, strength, and stamina, though the comics have been unclear on the matter of his healing factor - occasionally, he has merely survived things that should have killed him, at other times, he's able to heal much faster than a normal human.
But Vandal's real advantage is that his immortality, along with his vast intellect, has enabled him to have the experience equivalent of, well, the entire world from prehistory. In fact, it's rumored that he is actually Cain, the first human being born of Adam and Eve on earth, as well as its first murderer. Regardless of his actual origin, Savage is quietly the most powerful man in the world, with his influence extending to every country, government, and secret organization through the years.
The Live Action Version
The live action version of Vandal Savage is played by Danish actor Casper Crump. He first appeared in the two-part The Flash/ Arrow midseason finale crossover event as the villain who unites the teams of Central and Star City when he grows determined to kill Kendra Saunders, the newly-awakened Hawkgirl, and her reincarnated mate, Carter Hall/Hawkman. The first time they go up against Vandal Savage, he decimates them, killing the superheroes and decimating a good part of the city. But The Flash is able to travel back in time and reset the clock, and, using the knowledge he kept from the failed encounter in the earlier timeline, the teams succeed in beating Savage the second time around. He's vaporized by the Staff of Horus and reduced to nothing more than ashes. However, Malcolm Merlyn secretly collects Vandal Savage's ashes, presumably to resurrect them, whispering as he does so that Savage now owes him a debt.
The Enemy of Mankind
Vandal Savage, obviously, has no place on the team. But he is the reason the Legends of Tomorrow come together in the first place, and will be the reason they must gel and start acting in unison - if they don't, the world ends. It's that simple. It's a fundamental rule of storytelling that a hero is only as strong as his or her villain, and Vandal Savage may be the most formidable and evil villain of them all. To beat him, the Legends will have to rise to the occasion and become greater than they ever thought possible. Whether or not they believe they can do it is irrelevant - they have no other choice. Vandal Savage is just that ruthless, that brilliant, that slippery, that hard to chase through time. He is, in essence, the perfect villain.
So that was it! Vandal Savage, the last of our "Meet DC's Legends of Tomorrow" series! And if you missed it, check out my previous character breakdowns for the rest of the Legends team:
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, new series Thursday 8/7c on The CW.