“DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” which is now in its third season, is upping the ante on pop culture references.
After a second season that included an episode with a young George Lucas getting some ideas for his iconic “Star Wars” from things he ended up witnessing the Legends do, this third season is paying an homage to “E.T: the Extra-Terrestrial” with a trip back to the 1980s to save a young Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh).
“I like that we’re starting to do this more with the show,” Brandon Routh tells Variety. “In the first season, we did more hints of dialogue of pieces of catchy phrases from old movies. That was fun, but I like that we’re going more whole hog and making episodes that are themed like this.”
The fourth episode of the third season, entitled “Phone Home,” finds the Legends returning to the 1980s to find that a younger version of Ray has befriended a baby Dominator – the same alien species that threatened the planet during last year’s big crossover episode.
Here, Routh speaks with Variety about Ray interacting with his younger self, his impressions of Zari (Tala Ashe) and what movie he’d want to pay homage to next.w
How does Ray handle meeting a version of himself he can actually talk to and interact with?
He’s a little bit shocked. Young Ray is not acting normally, not the way that the older Ray remembers acting – because young Ray is helping the baby Dominator, a la Elliott and E.T. He becomes a little judgemental of himself.
Going back to the place you grew up can be very nostalgic – in both good and bad ways. How does Ray handle it?
He’s excited to go home, it’s a place he never thought he’d revisit. He sees his mom and himself at that time, and he also comes to understand his relationship with what he thought were his friends – the older kids that were his bullies. He’d made that into a story that they were friends and were just playfully teasing. He comes to understand as an adult that that wasn’t quite the way it was.
Will going back home bring back any bad memories, or did he truly just convince himself everything was OK and even the bullies were really his friends?
Ray is such a glass half full guy most of the time, and maybe it’s because he couldn’t deal with all the bullying so he glossed over it. It tends to happen with people who say ‘it wasn’t that big of a deal. It didn’t affect me’ but in a positive way. I think that’s the way Ray envisioned a lot of his youth. He was more lonely than he wants to accept as an adult.
Ray and the rest of the Legends have experiences dealing with Dominators, but how do they react to seeing a cute baby Dominator?
Ray’s pretty fascinated from a science perspective, and also it’s a cute creature as a baby. But he’s quickly whisked away by the baby as mini-Atom and is more worried about being ripped apart. The cuteness factor dies pretty quickly for Ray.
What is Ray’s read on Zari, the newest member of the team?
They’re kinda at both ends of the spectrum – where Zari sees the world as a more dark, unforgiving place, and Ray’s the opposite of that. They clash a bit in their viewpoints on that, but they definitely can connect on the science and programming side, and the geek/tech side, which is what happens further into the season as well. Where Ray tends to be a little to hard on himself sometimes in the episode, Zari is there to be the more comforting, reassuring, compassionate side to Ray’s younger self.
If the writers came to you and asked what movie you’d want the show to do an homage to next, what would you choose?
“Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” Our show gets that schticky sometimes, and that’s fun, and that’s one of my favorite comedic movies of all-time. I think it would be something that could fit within our show to do something that absurd.
“DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” airs on Tuesdays at 9 pm on the CW.