‘Legends of Tomorrow’ NYCC Interview: Brandon Routh Talks Unique Blend of Heroes and Villains

As The CW’s DC universe continues to evolve at an annual rate, with proven successes Arrow and The Flash, the network is prepping to launch another spinoff that takes minor characters from both of shows and gives them a larger platform to shine in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.

The spinoff, which has been described as a “superhero team-up show,” will focus on the team-up of a group of individuals — both heroes and villains — as they are tasked with protecting the future from the villainous Vandal Savage. This will require the team to travel through time as they try and stop Savage’s evil plans and protect the future.

We recently chatted with Legends of Tomorrow star Brandon Routh, who plays Ray Palmer (The Atom), at New York Comic Con, as he is preparing to make the transition from Arrow to Legends this midseason. When asked to describe the show, he mentioned the unique blending of heroes and villains working together in order to protect the world.

“We have heroes and villains coming together to try to save the future, the world, at large, brought together by Rip Hunter, a time traveling time master, who’s got a rogue’s gallery, as we call it, of people trying to work together to overcome their differences, and ultimately, do good,” he said. “We may mess up along the way every once in a while, and then we have to go back and figure out how to right our wrongs, as we trudge through time.”

While CW properties Arrow and The Flash are very much superhero shows, the real heart of those shows lies with the relationships that have been formed between the characters and how those relationships have cemented an emotional bond for the audience. Because at the end of the day, if your audience doesn't care about who your hero is when he/she takes off the costume and mask, then they don't really care at all.

"I think the basis of what makes Flash and Arrow work is the relationships," Routh said, "is that team, it’s the who’s Team Arrow, who’s Team Flash and what are the relationships and making the story work through interacting with the characters, and creating strong emotional bonds that the audience can relate to, so it feels real, you’re connected because you really care about these people, and that holds true to what we’re doing here. We have eight people that we’re doing this with, and they’re all very different, so that’s very unique for us. Plus I think the stakes are even higher, the scope is even bigger, the villains we’re facing even badder -- the time traveling Vandal Savage."

But suiting up as The Atom isn't Routh's first go-round as a superhero. Routh previously has played Superman, which is pretty much as big as you can get, in 2006's Superman Returns. As for whether suiting up as the Man of Steel prior to becoming Ray Palmer helped him prepare for his portrayal of The Atom, Routh said that it certainly helped with dealing with the stress that comes in the superhero genre.

"It’s helped in amazing ways," he said. "I don’t even know if it’s so much on-screen as just, Brandon, working through and dealing with the trials and tribulations of filming something like that,, the stress, the time constrains, the physical constraints of being in a suit and all these things, Superman really helped me prepare me for this."

But following his brief stint as the Man of Steel nearly 10 years ago, Routh never envisioned that he'd play another superhero, yet alone another one in the DC universe. But the opportunity was one that he knew he couldn't pass up.

"I thought maybe I’d play a villain sometime, but to have played the pinnacle of all superheroes in my mind, I never conceived of another opportunity," he said. "So when Marc and Andrew and Greg Berlanti wanted to meet with me I thought, well, this is unique, I should at least hear them out."

And it's a good thing he did.

Before you catch Ray Palmer in Legends of Tomorrow, you can see him in this Wednesday's Arrow ("Lost Souls"), as his backstory for Legends is set up.

DC's Legends of Tomorrow premieres in early 2016 on The CW.

Teacher by day, writer by every other free moment | Obsessed with sports, TV, books, movies, and superheroes | Proud shipper and supporter of strong female characters | Co-executive Editor, TV Editor and Sports Editor for Fangirlish | Contributor for Bears Wire at USA Today SMG | Contact: alyssa@fangirlish.com.