'Legends of Tomorrow' EPs Break Down Heartbreaking Rip Hunter Twist

Executive producers Marc Guggenheim and Phil Klemmer talk with THR about what's next for the superhero/villain team after that shocking death and reveal in the series premiere.
Jeff Weddell/The CW

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the series premiere of Legends of Tomorrow.]

Legends of Tomorrow? More like Losers of Tomorrow

The heroes at the center of The CW's new DC Comics series Legends of Tomorrow all thought they were being recruited for the superhero team because of their larger-than-life fates. But it turns out that Time Master Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) lied to them: he sought them all out because they actually had minimal effect on the timeline, and thus would create the least amount of ripples on time if they failed in their quest to stop immortal villain Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) from taking over the world. They weren't legends in the future ... they didn't even matter enough to be remembered past their time.

And the lies didn't stop there: Rip also was on the run from the organization of Time Masters he used to work for. Turns out he broke the rules by falling in love and having a son of his own. Time Masters are supposed to remain impartial to the timeline, but Rip created a family. So when Vandal Savage killed his wife and son, he was motivated by selfish reasons to go back in time and stop him, with the help of a team. 

So now that the Legends know the truth, they're going to continue their quest with Rip -- although with a little less trust and respect for their leader now that his lies have been exposed. Carter (Falk Hentschel) and Kendra (Ciara Renee) have just lost the son they recently discovered thanks to a Time Master bounty hunter named Kronos hunting down Rip and his team. And Vandal has a nuclear bomb in his possession. 

The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Legends of Tomorrow showrunners Marc Guggenheim and Phil Klemmer about where the team goes from here in light of all these revelations.

That twist with Rip Hunter's family was so shocking, but it explained why he was so personally invested in taking down Vandal Savage. Where did the inspiration come from to have Rip be on the run from his own organization?

Guggenheim: I believe that was Greg [Berlanti]'s pitch. There had to be stakes, personal stakes. That's what we discovered with Arrow and The Flash. You can save the city, but having the city be in jeopardy is one thing and having the people you care about be in jeopardy is another. It raises the stakes by making it personal. As far as Rip being a rogue Time Master, that struck us as an enormous amount of fun, especially since that was a secret he could then keep from the rest of the team. As we learned on Arrow, these shows traffic in the currency of secrets of the characters.

Klemmer: We wanted Rip to be something more than just the glue that held the team together. The fact that he is an enigma and doesn't have a backstory from Flash or Arrow, we wanted to humanize him from the outset. We'll deal with that throughout the whole series. Time Masters are these cold, calculating, detached people who are the custodians of time and don't have any emotional vested interest in the course of history or the affairs of humankind. It's almost like priesthood where they're supposed to be celibate. Rip's original sin is to have loved and fallen in love and had a family. So yes, he's a rogue Time Master and he's breaking all the rules, but he's doing it for all the right, relatable reasons.

Because of that, how much of an antagonist will the Time Masters become against the Legends team?

Guggenheim: I would say a significant antagonist, certainly in the form of Kronos. He's been dispatched by the Time Masters to hunt our Legends down. That's going to continue to be a thing throughout the series. One of the things we wanted to do is, recognizing that there's a potential for repetition if you just have singular bad guy in Vandal Savage, we very intentionally wanted to create other organic antagonists for our characters to go up against. So Kronos and the Time Masters are one, and another is, as Rip points out, is time itself. Time has a certain current to it, and it wants to flow in a certain direction. And here are our characters, trying to swim against that tide. That's going to prove to be challenging as well.

Klemmer: We want to uncover factions within the Time Masters as the season goes on. It seems so monolithic and cold and calculating in the pilot, so we're going to play with the notion that there are factions within it. It's not quite as simple as Rip broke the rules and they want to stop him. They also have selfish interests and they're not the holier-than-thou organization they pretend to be in the pilot.

Are we going to see Kronos unmasked?

Klemmer: That's a very astute question. I don't think there's anything like an automaton on our show. I'm totally evading your question in a way that should let you know you touched on something important. The goal for us is to get underneath the skin of each of the villains, whether that's Mick Rory [Dominic Purcell] or Leonard Snart [Wentworth Miller], and start understanding them as human beings. You don't have to like them but we definitely want people to pity them. At the same time, our clean-scrubbed all-American hero Ray Palmer [Brandon Routh] would be pretty boring if he just wanted to do the right thing every episode. You want to take your heroes and chip away their goodness and force them to deal with mistakes and guilt. You don't build the Atom suit unless you're trying to metaphorically protect yourself from something and you don't become Captain Cold unless you're trying to hide from something.

There was some very surprising chemistry between Sara (Caity Lotz), Leonard and Mick in that bar fight scene, but especially Sara and Leonard. What are we going to see from that dynamic moving forward?

Guggenheim: We always say that the show may have spectacle and production value, but it really lives in the interactions between our various characters. What's been fun for us is pairing up different actors and characters to see what we end up with. Snart and Sara is a standout moment in the first episode. They have a wonderful group of scenes in our seventh episode. They really have a fun – I'm a little wary of using the word "chemistry" because that implies that we're going to do something romantic with them – but there is a great dynamic between the two of them. There's also a wonderful dynamic that you'll see between Sara and Rip as well. A big part of the show is seeing how characters surprise you with the way they interact with each other.

Are you going to continuously switch up the pairings of the team in each episode, or will the team develop specific cliques that always run around together on missions?

Guggenheim: We're definitely going to mix up the pairings. That's more interesting than keeping the same cliques. But we also stay cognizant of the fact that this is a team-up, it's a team series. We delight in mixing and matching people up, like in episode five one of the mash-ups is Ray Palmer and Mick Rory. Man, it's a barn burner combination of people. We're going to play around with that.

Carter and Kendra discover they have a son in the premiere, although he was killed by the Time Masters' bounty hunter. Are we going to learn of more of their relatives in different time periods?

Klemmer: We are. We will be visiting their previous lives. Kendra's 4,000 years of memories will be returning to her throughout the season. The fact that we can travel through time opens up the possibilities of running into past incarnations of either Kendra and/or Carter. We could run into a version of her in the '20s.

In the premiere, the Legends find out they were chosen because they actually have minimal effect on the timeline. Is this revelation going to be a driving factor for the entire run of the series, or will some characters move on from it faster than others?

Guggenheim: Some characters will move on from it faster than others. It complicates their mission statement but at the end of the day, these guys are heroes. You put them in a situation and they will make the heroic choice. They'll save the world and help the downtrodden and right a wrong. So is that heroic drive going to change their fate and make them legends in the future? That's the big question at the center of the show.

Legends of Tomorrow airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.