Legends Of Tomorrow: Who Is Rip Hunter?


The heroes and villains on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow didn’t assemble by chance. As we saw in the series premiere, the unlikely group of eight is brought together by Rip Hunter, a former Time Master who journeys to the present in order to stop the immortal Vandal Savage from conquering the entire world 150 years into the future of the world seen on The Flash and Arrow.

Though Hunter’s stated purpose is heroic enough, his true motive is personal, and both the other characters and viewers discover that he not only lied to the Atom, Captain Cold and company — telling them they become legends in his time when he actually chose them because they are “unimportant” to the timeline — but also became a renegade from the Time Masters, who are now hunting him down for stealing his timeship, the Waverider.

As you might imagine, the Legends of Tomorrow team didn’t invent Arthur Darvill’s role from whole cloth. The time-traveling man with the given name Richard has been around in the pages of DC Comics for nearly 60 years, sometimes operating as a straight up hero and other times operating on an enigmatic agenda that he keeps mostly to himself. The one constant in his publication history is that whenever there’s a problem with time, you can almost guarantee Hunter will get in on the action.

A Brief Comic Book History of Rip Hunter

Hunter was created in 1959 by Jack Miller and Ruben Moreira as part of a mini-wave of DC characters inspired by science fiction. His gimmick was always that of a time traveler, initially in a Time-Sphere of his own design. After a few trial appearances, he was given his own comic book series, Rip Hunter … Time Master, which lasted 29 issues and saw him journey through history accompanied by his best friend, his girlfriend and his girlfriend’s kid brother, a pretty typical supporting cast for the 1960s.

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In the 80s, Hunter hooked up with the awesomely random team known as the Forgotten Heroes, a group that also featured Animal Man, Dolphin, Rick Flag Jr. (yes, the same one from the Suicide Squad) and Immortal Man. Like I said, random.

They got their moment in the sun during the seminal Crisis on Infinite Earths when they helped a large group of DC heroes travel back to the dawn of time, a place Hunter and his friends had already journeyed on their own. They also joined forces with Adam Strange, Captain Comet and Brainiac to visit Apokolips and make a plea to Darkseid to aid in the battle against the Anti-Monitor. It worked, as Darkseid channeled his power through Alexander Luthor at a critical moment.

After Crisis, things got a little confusing in an “only in comics” way. Hunter survived and remembered the pre-Crisis DC Universe, but another Hunter was also introduced who was also a time traveling sort. Version 1.o got involved with a group called the Linear Men (another member was Waverider, the hero whose name is referenced by Hunter’s ship on TV), discovered the cool but ultimately short-lived approach to DC continuity called Hypertime, and eventually was killed off.

The other Hunter was probably most famous for his blackboard full of cryptic clues, which first appeared in the 52 weekly series. It became a running plot device in the Booster Gold series, where Rip showed a more sinister side at times while guiding the adventures of Booster, who eventually gets the reverse Darth Vader treatment when he discovers that he is Hunter’s dad. Or will be. Time travel, man.

Hunter’s other big contribution was helping to retrieve the time-lost Batman following the events of Final Crisis. He was thought to have been wiped out of existence during Flashpoint, but a Rip Hunter has been seen in the New 52 DC Universe, so it would be somewhat foolish not to expect him to keep popping up going forward.

What We Might See Carry Over to the TV Version of Rip Hunter

Though Darvill’s Hunter doesn’t appear to be an exact match for any of his comic book counterparts, he does share some characteristics with several of them. His falling out with the Time Masters recalls the original Hunter’s disagreement with the Linear Men, and the time bubble first seen on The Flash (and whose invention was credited to Rip on that show) is analogous to the Time-Sphere from the comics.

The other thing that has translated from print to TV is the idea of a feud between Hunter and Vandal Savage. The 1990 comic series Time Masters saw Rip and his friends in an ongoing battle to defeat a group called the Illuminati, which was led by Savage. It also introduced the concept of Vanishing Point, a time/space that exists right before the heat death of all of existence, and if the Legends of Tomorrow showrunners really want to get wild, they could have Hunter take the team there at some point.

Next: Legends of Tomorrow Tidbits: Pilot Pt. 1

Like the most recent comic book iteration, the TV Hunter clearly has no qualms about using deception and manipulation to accomplish something he thinks needs to be done. Whether this determination and disregard for the “rules” of time end up as a net positive remains to be seen, but at the very least, he’s going to keep things very exciting for his hand-picked team while trying to stop Savage once and for all.