Legends of Tomorrow is a really interesting show. It's a perfect storm of superheroes, time travel, and spaceships, a series that wouldn't exist were it not for Arrow and The Flash becoming so popular. Kicking off from the success of its predecessors allows Legends of Tomorrow to give us a superhero tale with an interesting twist — these heroes aren't really heroes at all.
Right from the pilot episode, the team is told that they've been chosen simply because they have no impact on history. Suddenly, this mission is as much about the characters regaining a sense of purpose as it is about saving the world from Vandal Savage.
Spurred on by Sara Lance's impassioned speech, the team decide to try and change their fate — but this turns out to be almost impossible, because fate is biased against them.
Worst. Heroes. Ever.
In the penultimate episode, the Legends learn that their actions (and to some extent, their entire lives) have actually been manipulated by the Time Masters to help Savage rise to power. This is such an interesting continuation of the idea that the Legends aren't really heroes in the classical sense of the world, and goes a long way to explaining why the team inadvertently screw up every single one of their missions.
Ultimately of course, the Legends destroy the Oculus and in doing so they regain their agency (while accidentally dooming the Earth to invasion by the Thanagarians). By the end of the finale, the team have given themselves a new mission to protect the timeline, right before Rex Tyler crashes into the scene, teasing a team-up with the Justice Society in Season 2.
This makes Legends of Tomorrow less a show about superheroes, and more about how these characters become the heroes they want to be. Each character has a very different path to achieve this — Sara has to overcome her urge to kill, Leonard slowly turns away from his villainous persona, Kendra has to defeat Savage, etc.
For an audience, this is a really interesting aspect of the show. It makes the Legends engaging and relatable: After all, it's not like any of us could just leap into a superhero costume and immediately succeed at whatever we do. The Legends are fallible, even underdogs to some extent, and that makes them intriguing. But there's another reason the Legends are legends and not heroes — they're out of time.
Away From The Spotlight
In a lot of ways, superheroes only become heroes when the public accepts them. That's a theme which Arrow really excels at exploring, as Oliver Queen goes from mistrusted vigilante to genuine hero of the people. And yet, the entire point of the Legends is that they can exist outside the timestream, hopping back and forward through time in secret. Ironically, although Laurel inspires Sara to become a hero in the light at the beginning of the show, the Legends operate in the shadows.
But again, this just makes the Legends more interesting. Despite leaping into their hero costumes, the characters rarely (if ever) refer to each other by their alter-egos — Leonard is called "Snart", not Captain Cold; Ray's armor is called "the Atom suit" a lot, but he isn't called Atom; and the word "Hawkgirl" is never mentioned throughout the show.
This just goes to show that superhero titles are essentially social constructions intended to divert attention away from true identities. In Legends of Tomorrow, the characters are living their entire lives as part of their mission. There's no need to hide their identities, and therefore no need for alter-egos.
And although this might save them from Flashpoint in Season 2, the Legends are about to take several steps backwards.
Back To The Start
Just in case you hadn't realized, Barry's decision to save his mother in The Flash finale has plunged all the DCTV shows into a new, alternate timeline. This will have an interesting effect on Legends of Tomorrow Season 2— because of their mission on the Waverider, the characters will probably become time remnant duplicates, cast out of the new timeline.
There's a delicious irony about this. Although their status as time travelers will save them from Barry's changes, this means that now they're even more "nobodies" than at the beginning of Season 1. Just when they've regained their autonomy from the Time Masters' control, the Legends will discover that no-one in 2016 recognizes them. And they'll have their alternate versions to compete with.
With the exception of Sara, Ray, and Rip, all the Legends had their origin stories in The Flash. If Barry never becomes the Flash (as is likely now he's changed the past), then Stein would still be a professor, Kendra would still be a barista — and of course, Leonard and Mick would still be villains.
This leaves the Legends floating out of time on the Waverider. Sure, they'll be having new adventures with the Justice Society, and maybe even teaming up with Supergirl, but as for going home? That's impossible now. And personally, I can't wait to see how the team deals with this in Season 2.