Legends Of Tomorrow: exploring season 1’s cliffhanger ending

Legends Of Tomorrow ended its first season with a big ol’ hint of things to come. With spoilers, here’s what it meant...

This article contains spoilers for Legends Of Tomorrow’s season 1 finale, as well as revealing Zoom from The Flash’s secret identity.

Vandal Savage is dead; murdered at three different points in time. (Even some serious ashes-tampering by Malcolm Merlyn surely couldn’t undo that… could it?) But the story of Rip Hunter and The Waverider crew – now sans Kendra and Carter – is far from finished.

Legends Of Tomorrow will return for a second season as part of The CW’s fall 2016-2017 line up. As such, season 1 ended with a standard-issue tease of things to come. Shortly after Dominic Purcell’s Mick mentioned being hungry for chicken and the gang began wandering away, another Waverider crash landed from the sky in a big puff of smoke. Arthur Darvill’s Rip Hunter admitted he had “no idea” what was going on. 

A hooded man appeared from the smoke and wreckage, and shouted “Is this 2016? Is this May 2016?” Jax cautiously responded “Yeah” and the hooded chap said “You’re exactly where you said you’d be.” Everyone but this random newcomer looked baffled. “Do not get on that ship”, he added while pointing to Rip’s Waverider. “If you do, you’re all dead.”

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Mick chimed in with a “Says who?”, which the hooded man retorted to with “Says you, Mr Rory, you sent me.” Everyone continues to looks utterly bemused by the situation, until Rip steps forward and says “I’m sorry, who exactly are you?”

“My name is Rex Tyler”, says Rex Tyler while pulling back his hood, “I’m a member of The Justice Society Of America.” Everyone looks, again, confused. Credits roll. Here’s our primer to explain what that was all about…

Rex who now?

“Who is Rex Tyler?” may well be the question on your lips right now, and we have the answer. In the comics, he’s the first of three people to hold the superhero mantle Hourman. He was a biochemistry expert who developed a “miraculous vitamin” allowing him to possess exceptional abilities for one hour. After that, he turns back to normal until he takes another dose of “Miraclo”.

Rex Tyler was created by Ken Fitch and Bernard Baily and made his comic book debut way back in March 1940. This era is known among fans as “The Golden Age Of Comic Books”, and saw the creation of classic DC Comics characters such as The Flash, Green Arrow, Superman and Batman. Rip Hunter, if you were wondering, showed up in 1959 during “The Silver Age”. But I digress… 

Rex’s comic book look is fairly similar to the outfit worn by actor Patrick J. Adams in the finale scene of Legends Of Tomorrow season 1. The hood and cape combo has long been Hourman’s signature style, although he normally wears an hourglass around his neck as well. Adams’ costume doesn’t seem to have this, unless he’s hiding it a layer or two beneath the surface. Maybe he’s upgraded and got a watch instead.

In the comics, Rex used his science-given powers to help people and fight crime (initially under the name The Man Of The Hour, before simplifying it to Hourman). Over time, the ideas developed that Miraclo was an addictive substance and Rex was also becoming addicted to crime-fighting. Rex’s stories took on a cautionary tale element, as he tried to battle both of these addictions.

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Rex is perhaps best known, though, as a founder member of The Justice Society Of America… 

Justice what of where?

Not to be confused with The Justice League Of America (JLA), The Justice Society Of America (JSA) was the first team of comic book superheroes ever invented. Sheldon Mayer and Gardner Fox brought a team of uniquely talented heroes together in the pages of DC’s All Star Comics in 1940, which would go on to spawn many imitators in the shape of The Justice League and The Avengers and so forth. 

Rex Tyler’s Hourman was one of the founder members, along with magic master Doctor Fate, the omnipotent immortal Spectre, detective/prophet/chemist Sandman, the super strong Atom (AKA Albert Pratt, not to be confused with Ray Palmer’s shrinking superhero of the same name), the original Jay Garrick version of The Flash, magic-ring-wielder the Green Lantern (Alan Scott was the original, not Hal Jordan) and Carter Hall’s Hawkman.

After The Justice League came into existence in 1960, it was established that The Justice Society Of America – and all its heroes – existed on Earth-Two. That is, until 1985’s Crisis On Infinite Earths event meshed all the worlds together, and re-established the JSA as the Earth-One World War II predecessors for the JLA. 

It remains to be seen how Greg Berlanti and The CW crew will explain the existence of The Justice Society Of America within their TV continuity. They could go with the ‘they’re from Earth-Two’ approach or the ‘they’re from the past’ approach, or they could change it up altogether and say the JSA are from the future. Or it could be a mix of all three options.

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A number of the original JSA members, and some very similar characters, have already popped up on The CW, of course. Teddy Sears played Jack Garrick over on The Flash, although it was later revealed that he was actually Hunter Zoloman/Zoom. Falk Hentschel popped up throughout Legends Of Tomorrow season 1 as Carter Hall AKA Hawkman. And Brandon Routh has played the Atom – albeit the wrong version – for years across Arrow, The Flash and Legends.

In terms of characters from the original JSA who could appear in Legends Of Tomorrow season 2, then, the only superheroes who haven’t already been touched upon by The CW already are Doctor Fate, Spectre, and the original Green Lantern. It seems likely that those three could pop up. 

It’s also worth remembering that DC teased a bunch of Golden Age heroes in a string of Instagram posts earlier this year. There were allusions towards Hourman (his hourglass appeared in one post), Sandman (his iconic gas mask), parody superhero Ma Hunkel (the pot she wears on her head as The Red Tornado) and blind vigilante Dr Mid-Nite (one of his bombs).

The Silver Age’s military man hero Sergeant Rock was also represented in the Instagram spree (via his helmet), as was The Bronze Age’s gunslinger Jonah Hex (a wanted poster). Since these posts were shared, Jonah Hex and Hourman have both turned up in the show. And, quite possibly, so has Sgt Rock. Remember that World War II soldier whose helmet Kendra hid a note in? 

It seems like it’s only a matter of time until the rest of these heroes arrive in the show, then, suggesting that we could see a new incarnation of The Justice Society Of America consisted of Hourman, Sandman, Ma Hunkel, Dr Mid-Nite, Sergeant Rock and Jonah Hex. (and possibly Spectre and Green Lantern, if they really want to follow the comics to the letter. But those guys would require a lot of special effects.)

So, Legends Of Tomorrow season 2…

How does this all fit together? A 1940s superhero called Hourman has just crashed a Waverider in 2016 and namedropped The Justice Society Of America. As none of the present day Legends know who this guy is, but he knows them, it’s fairly obvious that they originally met at some point in the future (from the modern-day Legends’ point of view).

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Perhaps, in the continuity of The CW, The Justice Society Of America is a team of heroes from different time periods that Rip Hunter and his crew recruit to keep an eye on history. After all, in lieu of The Time Masters, someone’s got to protect the timeline and stop any further villains from conquering the world and murdering anyone’s wife and child.

But, obviously, something goes badly wrong after both the events of Legends Of Tomorrow season 1 and the first meeting of the Waverider crew and The Justice Society Of America. Mick sends Hourman back to May 2016 to stop the gang from getting in The Waverider. Because they’ll all die if they do.

It’s pretty clear that we’re seeing a screwed up timeline here. Hourman is popping up and claiming to know Mick, but Mick and everybody else has no idea who this hooded chap is. In the future, things must have gotten very out of hand. Perhaps the Legends and The Justice Society Of America have met their match, and the drastic decision has been made to intercept Rip Hunter’s Waverider crew at an earlier point in the timeline in a bid to stop a lot of death.

Only time will tell exactly how this plotline shakes out. The only other real tease we’ve had about the future is that an invasion from the Thanagarian alien race is coming in 2175. Apparently, unless Vandal Savage is there to stop them, the Earth will be destroyed. Maybe this is the threat that the Legends and The Justice Society Of America have failed to stop, necessitating Hourman’s trip back to 2016 to try and change history.

In the comics (but not in the TV show, as far as we can tell), Hawkman and Hawkgirl were from the planet Thanagar. Thanagarians traditionally have elongated life spans and heightened durability.

A full-scale Thanagarian invasion, then, could prove quite a struggle for any group of superheroes. At our best guess, this will probably be the disastrous event that sets Legends Of Tomorrow season 2 into motion like Vandal Savage’s rise to power did with season 1. We’ll have to wait and see.