Spoiler warning if you aren’t caught up with Legends of Tomorrow’s “Pilot, Part 2”
When The Flash was introduced into the CW’s DC world, it opened up new dimensions — literally — of possibilities regarding time, and the manipulation of it. The Flash Season 1 was essentially all about time travel, and Barry Allen’s desire to save his mother and exonerate his father. The crescendo of that season’s finale involved erasing someone from the timeline through the Speed Force, and from there, all things seemed possible. But rules still had to be set in place, and referenced at key points, in order to keep the show’s stakes high.
Things only escalated further in Season 2, and with a recent crossover with Arrow, we’ve started to see the Arrowverse affected by time travel (like when Barry ran back to alter events to save their lives). Those consequences are still playing out, but they still can’t hold a candle to what’s happening on Legends of Tomorrow, a show whose entire premise revolves around manipulating time, protecting the past, and saving the future.
At the TCA press tour in early January, Legends of Tomorrow executive producers Andrew Kreisberg and Phil Klemmer (who are also producers of Arrow and The Flash) were on hand to talk a little more about the particulars of their time travel rules. Kreisberg aptly started by dropping a Doctor Who reference: “timey whimey.” Phil Klemmer followed-up with:
“We make rules that make good drama. And as you saw on the two pilot episodes, the idea that you can’t return to a moment that you participated in actively, we wanted to give away our get‑out‑of‑jail free card so that it didn’t turn into “Groundhog Day” when we made a horrible mistake. Or, for instance, if somebody dies, that we couldn’t just hit the reset button and go back to the moment of their death and keep doing it again and again and again until we get something right. It’s important to have real stakes and real consequences and real deaths on the show, and we didn’t want to make it easy for ourselves by just using time travel as a chance to get things perfect, because, yeah, perfect’s boring.”
Of course, The Flash and Arrow have used time travel and other resurrection powers to bring back characters rather often. Sara Lance returned through the Lazarus Pit … but wasn’t the first to be healed by its waters (Ra’s al Ghul, Oliver Queen, Thea Queen …). And on The Flash, well, Barry can often just run back and change things (even though, as noted, there are some consequences that have been manifesting). Kreisberg notes:
“You can’t reenter an event in which you already participated in. Even on Flash, whenever Barry time-travels, we talk about how any alterations to the timeline can have unforeseen consequences. And on Arrow, with the Lazarus Pit, it brought Sara back and then Nyssa destroyed it. So for every time we have one of these sort of deux ex machine moments that bring a favorite character back to life, we try as quickly as possible to eliminate it so that we avoid that.”
Ok, but still … Legends of Tomorrow’s “Pilot, Part 2” appeared to take a massively bold step by killing off Hawkman before we hardly even knew him. So … will he be back? He has to, right? Because it’s such an important part of the entire Hawk mythology with Vandal Savage? Kreisberg continued,
“The only reason to watch this show is because of the stakes and because you care about these people. […] Right out of the gate, you really feel that on this show that they all feel like these tragic lost souls who have all lost something, and have a moment and an opportunity for redemption through this travel to stop Vandal. And I don’t think anyone’s going to want to see any of them die or be hurt or be wounded any more than they already have been. So the stakes are very real, and that’s the answer.”
Klemmer detailed more about Hawkman’s fate specifically in an interview Christina Radish, saying that the character will return in flashbacks, but whether or not he’ll be resurrected, “I’m not positive […] for Kendra, it really is about free will. I would also like to find another version of Hawkman out there. Once our Kendra has found love within Legends, I would like her to be confronted with another Carter from a previous life, just to test the theory, does free will trump destiny?”
The Flash airs Tuesdays, Arrow airs Wednesdays, and Legends of Tomorrow airs Thursdays, all on the CW.