The second episode ever of Legends of Tomorrow ended in a big twist. Hawkman, otherwise known as Carter Hall, also known as Prince Khufu, died once again at the hands of Vandal Savage. It was a surprising death for a character that was heavily featured in the promotional material for the show and was big part of the first season’s central mythology. Surprising in this case also means excellent. Killing Hawkman off was the smartest thing that Legends of Tomorrow did in its two part series premiere.
Someone Needed to Die
I detailed before the second episode aired that Legends of Tomorrow would be best served in killing off one of the members of their large superhero team. I theorized then that Hawkman was the most likely target. I wasn’t right about just that, if you’ll excuse me tooting my own horn, everything went down almost exactly as I hoped. The death gave the series a real sense of stakes and consequence. Everyone on the team rallied together because of the death. It gave them all a personal motivation to take down Vandal Savage.
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The truth is though that the death of any member of the team would have served this purpose. Heatwave is far more enjoyable on Legends of Tomorrow than he ever was on The Flash. He’s still completely overshadowed by Captain Cold though and his power set is kind of useless. Even though Heatwave is a villain, his death would have caused the team to come together. It’s also possible that Heatwave, or any member of the team, still could die. It was smarter on Legends of Tomorrow’s part to kill off Hawkman first. There’s something very beneficial and unique to it being Hawkman who paid the ultimate price.
Kendra Is the Better Hawk
The character who benefits the most from Hawkman’s death, besides Vandal Savage, is Kendra. Kendra has always been the more interesting Hawk…person. Since Kendra first appeared on The Flash she has been the audience’s point of view character. She’s our eyes and ears for the wacky Hawkpeople mythology and the craziness that is the Hath-Set. Ciara Renee didn’t always seem comfortable in the role but she’s grown into it and Kendra has always been written as more relatable and likable.
While it was silly how quickly Kendra went from creeped out to desperately in love with Carter, it did work for the story. Kendra now has emotional motivation to go after Vandal Savage. She remembers all her past lives with Carter just as he is taken away from her in her current life. There is a real tragedy there. It’s also a much more sympathetic story (for us) than that Rip’s story of his dead family. We saw Kendra’s whole relationship with Carter in this life whereas Rip’s son and wife were only briefly featured before they were killed off.
Hawkman Can Always Rise Again
Legends of Tomorrow would be best served in keeping this iteration of Hawkman dead forever. Perhaps they can even add some extra conflict to the Vandal Savage showdown by making it so that when Kendra kills Savage, Carter will never reincarnate. Yet because Hawkman is Hawkman there is always opportunity for him to show up again without undermining the power of his sacrifice.
Carter has lived for millennia in a number of different lives. Legends of Tomorrow being a time travel show means that it’s more likely than not that the team will run into one of Carter’s past lives. There is an opportunity for an interesting role reversal there as well. Carter could be reborn completely clueless about his destiny and it could be Kendra who teaches him all about their shared history. It would be a nice moment for Kendra’s character to come from full circle turning from the skeptical disbeliever to the passionate mentor.
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The nature of superhero and comic book deaths is that they will always been transitory. The world is just weird enough that death is a temporary inconvenience, characters will usually reappear in one way or another. Killing off Hawkman allows Legends of Tomorrow to have their cake and eat it too. Legends of Tomorrow can have their big dramatic death scene with very real consequences for the characters. Yet they can always bring the actor and character back when needed or wanted because of the time travel nature of the show and Hawkman’s semi- immortal life.
But what do you think? Was killing off Hawkman a smart move? Will you miss the character? Do you think we will see Hawkman again in this life or another?
Legends of Tomorrow season 1 airs Thursdays at 8pm on The CW.
(Images courtesy of The CW)