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How a scathing review made The A.V. Club part of Legends Of Tomorrow

show ever seemed like it was meant to be the biggest thing in the world. As popular as Riverdale or Supernatural were at the height of their powers they were still CW shows the kind you dont watch live but rather binge over a weekend on Netflix. They werent trying to appeal to everyone they were trying to appeal to the people who got it the people who were already predisposed for whatever reason to fall headoverheels in love with whatever that show was doing.

And that was never more true than it was for DCs Legends Of Tomorrow. A spinoff of a spinoff of the Batman Beginsinspired Arrow the show seemed to require so much homework that it never had a chance to be the next Riverdale or Supernatural. But it still managed to build a headoverheels fanbase that carried it through seven seasons of stories about a found family of timetraveling superheroes who took it upon themselves to save history from aliens and immortal warlords and demons and fantastical creatures.

One of the things that made Legends Of Tomorrow special though was that it had worked hard to earn the love of its fans. The shows first season the one that was most explicitly set up by the events of Arrow and The Flash was—to put it charitably—lousy. It was the kind of mostly serious superhero action with soapy CW drama that its forebearers had found success with. But with a whole team of heroes to worry about there wasnt enough time or budget for any of it to get the attention it needed. By all rights Legends Of Tomorrow couldve or shouldve ended there but over its second and third seasons it shifted into a different kind of show one that would use superhero action and soapy drama as seasoning rather than the whole dish embracing its status as an outsider and becoming a phenomenal highconcept comedy series in the process.

But of course Legends Of Tomorrow isnt the only thing to reject the boring path to mainstream success in favor of embracing outsider status to better serve a more loyal and dedicated fanbase. Beginning life as the backpage supplement to a satirical newspaper and later setting up a home base in Chicago—a city that prides itself on rejecting the mainstream appeal of the coasts—The A.V. Club built its reputation on being a website that preferred to be a little outside. Rather than catering exclusively to the Hollywood scene or to hip New Yorkers it was made for the regular folks who wanted to read a funny Onion headline and then check out a thoughtful take on an obscure David Lynch project. So it makes perfect sense that Legends Of Tomorrow and The A.V. Club would have a shared affinity for each other. We are who we want to be and we like who and what we want to like and we want to build spaces for people who feel the same way.

We covered Legends throughout its entire sevenseason run here at The A.V. Club with reviews of every episode and occasional essays on absurd moments that went viral yes theres one where classic comics villain Gorilla Grodd attacks a young Barack Obama so youd be hardpressed to find any more thorough chronicle of Legends transformation from—as we once put it—bad superhero show to best superhero show. Like with everyone else in its headoverheels fanbase it worked its way into our hearts to become something worth loving.

The funny thing though is that Legends felt the same way about The A.V. Club. In the seasonfour episode Wet Hot American Bummer Caity Lotzs timetraveling spaceship captain Sara Lance is laying in bed with her girlfriend Ava Jes Macallan enjoying some downtime by watching a terrible horror movie called Swamp Thaaaang. You can watch this opening scene on Netflix—season 4 episode 4 around the 120 mark. Sara wonders where this movie shes never heard of came from since shes a horror fan so Ava decides to figure out whats going on by looking up a review of Swamp Thaaaang from The A.V. Club

Ava Okay Swamp Thaaaang. Apparently there are four As in the name because its the fourth film in the franchise. The A.V. Club gave it a D+ saying the production design is as lazy as the action staging.reputation that The Simpsons also once paid homage to but it goes even deeper than that The line Ava reads is actually a nearly direct quote from an actual D+ A.V. Club review written by longtime contributor Oliver Sava from the first season of Legends Of Tomorrow

That big action sequence takes place in one of the Time Masters outposts in the time stream which is just a big airplane hangar with a few lightup cylinders set up to give it a vaguely scifi look. The design is as lazy as the action staging which there is hardly any of because The Pilgrim can manipulate time in the immediate area surrounding her. Here at The A.V. Club we always took that nod as a friendly nudge in the ribs as if the show was saying we have fun together dont we? to both us and to any fans who are obsessive enough to catch the reference. But how did it happen?

To answer that question we reached out to David Geddes the episodes director and inuniverse credited as the director of Swamp Thaaaang and Ray Utarnachitt one of the credited writers to ask Does this canonically mean The A.V. Club and all of its writers and readers exist as part of the Arrowverse? Were out there somewhere getting swept up in the Crisis On Infinite Earths? Seeing a red blur from the Flash at CC Jitters? Being attacked by roving Deathstroke gangs in Star City?
Ray Utarnachitt I can only assume that IF The A.V. Club exists in the Arrowverse then you and everyone at The A.V. Club past and present must exist there too.

About Yashwa Malik

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