The next generation of Earth’s heroes, the Legion of Super-Heroes, have become synonymous with iconic DC Comics legacy groups, bearing dozens of comic runs since the ’50s and several animated plus live-action appearances (including their own show!) However, this time around, the Legion makes way for Supergirl, replacing the presence of Superman from the comics in this movie. In doing so, it provides a new, fresh perspective on the Legion and this world, but does it do enough to deserve its place in the latest continuity of animated films? Almost, just almost.
The latest addition to DC’s Tomorrowverse, Legion of Super-Heroes, follows Superman’s cousin, Supergirl (Meg Donnelly), as she struggles to adjust to this new world protected by the Justice League. As a way to properly prepare her for this world, the two take a trip to the 31st Century where the Legion helps train Kara. Meanwhile, a dark conspiracy around the group known as the Dark Circle and the untrusting descendant of a longtime League rogue, Brainiac 5 (Harry Shum Jr.), threatens the stability of the Legion. Faced with a dangerous threat, combined with her own clinging to Krypton’s catastrophe, Kara must choose whether to adapt and grow in these newfound circumstances before darker times come to fruition.
As you could have probably guessed, Legion of Super-Heroes focuses on developing Supergirl’s personality and her trustworthiness towards the present-day, non-Kryptonian environment of Earth through the lens of a hero-filled future. However, this mostly unique perspective of the world through Kara’s eyes provides the beginnings of an interesting relationship between her and Brainiac 5, who the Legion remains wary of. As the movie continued, Kara and Brainiac 5’s relationship began to feel more essential, sweetening the movie’s straightforward plot while also playing on an unorthodox dynamic that most fans and readers would never think of. Through this special connection, Supergirl not only better accepts her newfound Legion friends, but she’s better able to move on from the past and accept this new world, which almost touched me in a heartfelt way. The curious writing and growth of the Supergirl-Brainiac 5 dynamic, provided well enough by Josie Campbell, makes me genuinely wonder how the Tomorrowverse will continue this in the future.
In terms of the Legion, it honestly feels like the Supergirl-Brainiac 5 relationship sidelined the personal growth of the team, which didn’t balance out well enough with me. Luckily, some members of the Legion like Dawnstar (Cynthia Hamidi) and Triplicate Girl (Daisy Lightfoot) play bigger roles, but the plot’s need to move forward limit their interactions with Supergirl and general personalities. They only get to fully express themselves and their powers in the third act, so expect the Legion to be mostly here for namesake.
The movie’s weaknesses mostly show within the story itself, with surprise twists you could sense a mile away and villains that slowly wash their intimidation away. This appears as Mon-El (Yuri Lowenthal), whose pride and loyalties are understood through simple steps, and the once-elusive Dark Circle. The movie diverges from relying on Legion rogues like the Fatal Five, last seen in 2019’s Justice League vs. the Fatal Five, and exposes the Dark Circle’s origins in an attempt to dramatize a bigger threat (which was honestly pretty surprising to realize after the fact). Sadly, this Mon-El felt like a somewhat dull version of his comics counterpart and the exposing of the Dark Circle near the end of the movie made them less threatening than they already were. Mixing this with a quick ending and an open-ended post credits, Legion of Super-Heroes leaves a disjointed movie with missed potential to make the Legion a mainstay in this continuity.
In the end, Legion of Super-Heroes feels more of a Supergirl-self discovery movie marked with the title branding of the Legion to reel in comic readers and fans alike. While the movie deserves its highs in developing Kara’s character with Brainiac 5, it sacrifices for a straightforward, somewhat weak plot with slight underutilization of its titular team. If fans are to ever return to the futuristic world of the 31st Century, hopefully we could see the whole Legion back in action and better explore that side of the DC Universe in this ever-growing Tomorrowverse.
DC’s Legion of Super-Heroes is available on Blu-ray and Digital February 7.