‘Legends of Tomorrow’ Boss Explains That Heartbreaking Episode 2 Twist

legends of tomorrow hawkman dead carter
Courtesy of The CW

Spoiler warning: Do not read on unless you’ve seen the second episode of The CW’s “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.”

When you’re tasked with changing the future, the stakes couldn’t be higher, a lesson that the “Legends of Tomorrow” team learned the hard way in episode 2, when Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) succeeded in killing Carter Hall (Falk Hentschel), just as his reincarnated soulmate Kendra Saunders (Ciara Renee) was finally starting to come to terms with her feelings for him.

Why Carter? According to “Legends” executive producer Marc Guggenheim, the painful choice also seemed to make the most sense, from a storytelling standpoint.

“The first thing we were searching for was, how do we establish very quickly the stakes of the show, particularly when you have all these people who are so powerful? The idea of losing one of their own spoke to us very strongly,” he told Variety. “It’s always a decision based on what’s gonna give us the most story, and the idea of Kendra losing the person who is helping guide her through this brand new experience of being a reincarnated hawk demigoddess, taking that support system away from her so that A: she’d have to deal with it and B: she’d have to lean on the other members of our team… that really spoke to us. We realized, as with all things, an idea comes up and if we start going ‘oh, then this can happen, and this can happen, and this…’ that’s when we know it’s the right idea.”

Hawkman may be dead, but this is a time-travel show, so Guggenheim was willing to concede, “You haven’t seen the last of Falk Hentschel — I will say that in episode 3 we very clearly state that we can’t go back and just save Carter’s life. Because that would be way too convenient and also, quite frankly, completely vitiate the point of killing off a character in the first place. So we’re very clear about the rules.”

Renee admitted that losing Carter just when they were starting to grow closer is a devastating blow for Kendra, but since they’ll be traveling to other time periods, she’s aware of the possibility that she might run into another version of her reincarnated lover. “It’s absolutely something she’s hoping for, but the thing is, if she finds a past Carter, would he have already found [that time period’s version of] her?” Renee pointed out. “It’s not as if the romantic part of it can be realized for her. She understands that that part, for this incarnation, is done, and that’s really, really hard. But it’s also like, ‘if we kill Savage, does Carter ever get to come back, or is that it?’ We don’t know.”

Past or future versions of Hawkman might be a possibility, but Guggenheim confirmed that, at least in Kendra’s current life, Carter is gone. “The thing about Carter is, he doesn’t resurrect, he reincarnates, and when you reincarnate, you come back as a baby. You haven’t seen the last of Falk, but at the same time, we’re not doing Hawkbaby on the show,” he promised with a laugh.

Kendra and Carter already met — and lost — a son from one of their previous lives, after he was killed in last week’s pilot, and Renee noted that while loss is undeniably an ongoing part of Kendra’s journey towards becoming Hawkgirl, it also helps to narrow her focus towards defeating Savage.

“Losing all this, and meeting [her son] in the first place, it allows her to really understand the gravity of the situation, that it does affect other people,” Renee told Variety. “There’s a big part of her that wants to protect, even if it’s not necessarily a revenge thing; she wants to protect and she’s seeing that the only way that that can really be accomplished is to destroy Savage, because he’s constantly been recklessly destroying other people. I think that sparks something in her where she’s like ‘alright, I’m in this. I have to do this, because there are people out there who are counting on us doing this.’”

Carter’s death also serves as the catalyst that brings the team closer together, now that the realities of their mission have hit home, and Renee previewed that Kendra “gets surprised by a lot of people, because she is a bit of an outlier and we have villains in this, so I think she’s wary of a lot of people, but then gets surprised that she’s bonding with a lot of people. She bonds with Sara (Caity Lotz), she bonds with Firestorm (Victor Garber and Franz Drameh), she bonds with Ray (Brandon Routh), they’re all being thrown together in different ways.”

“DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.

Were you shocked by Carter’s death? Share your reactions below.

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  1. C W says:

    He needs to come back soon!!!!!

  2. Sally Lake says:

    Carter Hall wasn’t working for me – that whole “we’re destined to be together, you have no choice” vibe was creeping me out, tbh. Anyway, they’ve tried and failed to beat Savage as a couple for 4000 years, maybe it’s time for them to try another configuration. We’ll see if Hawkgirl has the chops to go it alone (with the LoT team, obv)

  3. Joseph Zerreitug says:

    The most iconic and classic of all characters on the show and they kill him off… in episode 2! Hawkman and The Atom were the reason I was excited to watch Legends of Tomorrow; now that I’ve lost 50% of my interest in it, I’m not sure I’ll keep watching. Come on! Hawkman is a much bigger and more epic character than Hawkgirl! Just look at comics’ history! What was going through your minds?

  4. Joe rider says:

    Just watched Hawkman die. Had the first 5 hours saved on my DVR. Just erased the rest. Had high hopes for this show, guess I’ll move on to the next. This is why few of them last.

  5. Dennis says:

    So, when does the reincarnation happen? If he died in 1975, does he reincarnate in a relatively short period of time? Could they come back to the present and find him here again, at roughly the same age? …Hmmmm…

  6. Jess says:

    Honestly, Hawkman is one of my favorite superheroes and probably the most recognizable hero namein the cast. I think the actor was a great cast for him and I was looking forward to watching his story. For me, there was no justification in killing him off so soon. I’m with the other commenter who said it should have been Hawkgirl. Her character is a little too angsty for me. It would have been awesome to watch her death fuel his fire and make him into the uber badass he’s meant to be. I don’t know why this series is making him such a wuss. Bring him back and give him his full powers! I’m about done with this show for this move. If he’s not back in the next couple episodes, I’m out. I don’t care about these other lame characters.

  7. beachgirl says:

    Sorry but that explanation still does not work for me. I’m gone. At least I found out early enough and have not invested too much time in the series.

  8. Jack Bennet says:

    I thought it was a little crazy to kill off a main character in the second episode. But I also didn’t like Carter. I didn’t like him on the Arrow/Flash crossover either. He had an unlikable personality. If somebody had to go, it definitely had to be him. I don’t see this show lasting very long anyways. Viewers will quickly get tired of a story of constant failures. Every episode is just going to be them failing to defeat Savage. How long can it last with them constantly having failed missions? Not very long. And if they defeat Savage, it will be the end of the show. This show will not last very long.

  9. John says:

    I’m sorry but Carter sucks. Hawkman character he’s annoying. The actor is very dull. Them killing him off was a good decision but his character always gets reincarnated. So it works storyline wise I just dont understand Europeans obsession with making Egyptians white. They could’ve hired a Latino, Asian, African, Pacific Islands, Arab, etc. etc. to play that Carter character which means waaaayyyy better actors cause not only does this guy sucks from a historical point him being an ancient Egyptian prince makes no sense. Even Vandal Savage origin is weird. He’s suppose to be of the first humans & immortal. Outside of thatthe show is great but I tried liking Carter he sucked. I hope they dont bring him back but they most likely will.

  10. ih8variety says:

    this is the last time I ever click a variety article until you fix your spoilers in your headlines. I was googling reviews to see if I wanted to watch the show and I already got hit with a spoiler.
    Im done with you and am boycotting you until you fix this crap. this is not the first show youve done this for either

  11. Annie says:

    Since Kendra is alive, she will not reincarnate but Carter will. Why can’t they simply go 20-25 years in the future and recruit Carter for the mission again? In this way, Kendra and Carter can still be together. But this Kendra has the memories and not Carter. This way Kendra will have her cake and eat it too. Get closer the the crew and win back her love!

  12. Reggie says:

    “I will say that in episode 3 we very clearly state that we can’t go back and just save Carter’s life. Because that would be way too convenient and also, quite frankly, completely vitiate the point of killing off a character in the first place. So we’re very clear about the rules.””

    It’s funny when you think about how the first 2 or 3 episodes of Arrow dealt with the return of three supposedly dead characters…
    Hawkman died because there was one hawk too many and when it came down to Kendra or Carter, it’s obvious which one would go…

  13. You realize that your URL slug “legend’s of tomorrow hawkman dead: carter killed by vandal savage” shows up in Google searches, right? Not just as the web address, but as the article title? Why bother issuing spoiler alerts at the top of your article when you’ve already delivered the spoiler … Keeping spoilers out of your URLs should be a best practice.

  14. CC says:

    I’m a lot more excited by the show now. His character was really grating and the plot points surrounding them as a couple were off putting and boring, and the men already outnumber the women on this show far too much.

  15. Sparkle says:

    I was upset by the death so early in the series. Yeah so they travel through time but that shouldn’t mean its okay to just kill off the characters because you just can just pick them up somewhere else along the timeline. I watched the Legends of Yesterday and Legends of Today and I liked Hawkman and Hawkgirl. I liked Hawkman better than Hawkgirl. Hawkgirl seemed too angsty with the this is my life now and I don’t want to be who I was before or I don’t know if that is who I want to be now. I would rather they had killed Hawkgirl and kept Hawkman. They better be prepared against Savage because now they have a new Firestorm and a reincarnated winged hero who doesn’t know how to fight.

  16. jerry lindsey says:

    It is absolutely stupid that Hawkman has been killed by Savage over 200 times and he #1. Runs carelessly toward Savage after dying at his hands over 200 times already #2 Does not remember that he can’t kill him omg Hawkgirl can #3 is the only one with memories but acts like he gets a touch of Alzheimer’s before dying yet again. I can deal with a lot but come on this didn’t even make sense to my 5 year old.

  17. Bill says:

    Thanks for spoiling it on your facebook post.

  18. I’m devastated and I don’t think I can keep watching the show. TV shows are very important to me, they allow me to forget pain and suffering for a while. I’ve been chronically ill since I was a little kid and almost all the good things about life are denied me. One of the few things I can still do is watch TV. I love superhero shows but so far they’ve all been too dark and angsty and brooding and earnest. And my fave characters usually get killed off or turned evil. And then LoT came along and the EPs were going on about how it was going to be a crazy fun show and lighter than the others and I thought FINALLY!!! And I was really loving the show and so happy to have a new fun show I could look forward to every week. And now I just feel like I’ve been stabbed in the back. Hey come watch our really fun show we’ll make you happy every week, Oh look at that, we killed off your favorite character before the second ep was even done. I’ve always loved the Hawks story and it was the part of LoT I was most looking forward to. If the pay off is to watch Kendra emote all the time, that’s exactly what I don’t want to see. And I don’t think I can sit through that, feeling sad and angry they killed off my favorite character and ruined my new favorite show, and not able to enjoy anymore the other parts I liked. I’m crushed, I can’t even get a fun TV show out of this miserable painful life.

  19. “Legends of Tomorrow’s Hawkman Dead: Carter Killed by Vandal Savage
    Variety‎ – 19 hours ago” Fantastic headline guys. Wonderfully followed up by the spoiler warning popping up once you are actually reading the articale. Here’s a tip if you dont want people to see spoilers dont put them in the freaking headline so you will see it straight away when scrooling through google.

    *Shakes head in disapointment.

  20. Seven Costanza says:

    Thanks for spoiling it in your headline. But whatever, I would have found out anyway

  21. Mr Grumpypants says:

    — LEARN HOW TO HEADLINE–
    You title this “Legends of Tomorrow’s Hawkman Dead: Carter Killed by Vandal Savage ”
    *** THEN*** You start with “Spoiler warning: Do not read if”????????????

    Congratulations! YOU ALREADY SPOILED IT.
    To answer your closing question, NO, I was *not* surprised by Carter’s death, because your article is headlined the way it is.
    You may be asking “Den y u reed dis?” I didn’t. I type “thecw legends” into Google so I can go straight to their site to watch it, and naturally, your article is right up there on the top in huge bold print spoiling everything.

    Sincerely, someone who would never comment if not for your absolute carelessness.

  22. Carter Hall says:

    It is what it is. Carter’s death will help Kendra focus on defeating Savage, and it also gives her an opportunity to get to know the other members of her team. If Carter were still alive, she would be spending most of her time with him. It’s a team, right? Carter’s unfortunate death will bring her closer to everyone, and together, they’ll form a true team.

    • Osirian35 says:

      I am so disappointed with this episode, killing him off was horrible. I kinda wanted to see their relationship flourish, well this is definitely the last episode I’m gonna watch the show is ruined for me now and i really had high hopes, sigh.

      • I feel the exact same way and no one was a bigger cheerleader for LoT than me. I was so excited to finally have a FUN superhero show that would make me feel good to watch and instead they just gave me a ton of negative feelings.

      • Carter isn’t the center of the show. There is still more to be seen on the show, such as when Captain Cold meeting his younger self, when the team travels into the future in episode six (Star City 2146) and see Oliver Queen (Green Arrow) in the year 2046 without an arm and with a goatee, when they meet Connor Hawke (new Green Arrow) in the year 2146 and see him take the helm of an old hero (the Green Arrow), and more. Legends of Tomorrow isn’t dead without Carter. If you want to see him so badly with Kendra, there will be plenty of that in Kendra’s flashbacks into her past, which will happen regularly throughout the show.

  23. Jar says:

    Honestly a very bad thing to do, you made carter look like a wimp while he is powerful. This kind of made me feel like not watching the show anymore. Show is just beginning and this was a very bad idea to do.
    Additionally you should change the title of this post because you are spoiling it for the rest of the people who didn’t have a chance to watch it.

    • We’re already attached to Carter because the characters have existed for decades before LoT came along. They may have thought it’s just ep2 they won’t be that attached but we’ve loved these characters for years before they got their homicidal claws into them. We know them well and we hate to see them belittled and killed.

      And it does ruin the show for those who are attached. Other people can say there are other things on the show, but you can’t enjoy those other things because you’re mad and sad and the writers have lost your trust. And I really don’t want to see Oliver with an amputated arm anyway.

  24. Robert McClafferty says:

    Completely unnecessary. Bad writing idea.

  25. Ojaswin Jain says:

    Change your title tag…..theres no point in giving spoiler warning if you already display it in people’s news feed…..you guys suck

  26. Nikia says:

    Well, this show just lost me as a viewer. The relationship between Carter and Kendra is the reason why I was so excited about this show. Sigh…. Killing Carter was a mistake.

  27. I am heartbroken and livid. LIVID! It’s only episode 2! COME ON!

  28. Observer says:

    Now we’re just wondering if you haven’t got someone else you can feed of for a change instead of this women who has been victimized and exploited every day for six years by predatory stalkers working for huge studios, PR companies and agencies.

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