Brandon Routh on Flash vs. Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow & How Superman Prepared Him to be The Atom

Photo Credit: The CW Network
Photo Credit: The CW Network

After his stint last season on Arrow, former Superman Brandon Routh makes his return to the series tonight as billionaire and aspiring superhero Ray Palmer. In 2016, Routh’s character will be making his permanent home of the highly anticipated new series DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.

Pop-Break sat down with the actor to discuss how this show will differ from The CW’s other superhero shows, how Superman Returns prepared him for wearing the A.T.O.M. suit and more.

Talk a little bit about the concept of the show and how the show is different than The Flash or Arrow.

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The concept of this show is we have heroes and villains coming together to try to save the future, the world at large. [They are] brought together by Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill), a time traveling Time Master who’s got a rogue’s gallery, we’d call it, I guess, of people trying to work together to overcome their differences and ultimately do good. We may mess up along the way every once in awhile and then we have to go back and try to figure out how to right our wrongs as we trudge through time.

So far Arrow and The Flash have built themselves around serious family drama, things like that, this is a more unique set up. How does that formula kind of fit the format of your show with different people coming together?
Yeah, I mean, the basis of what makes Flash and Arrow work is the relationships, is that team, is the who’s Team Arrow, who’s Team Flash, what are the relationships? and making story work through interacting with the characters and creating a strong emotional bonds that the audience can relate to so that when you’re in peril, it feels real. You’re connected because you really care about these people. And that’s holds true to what we’re doing here. We have 8 people that we’re doing this with and they’re all very different. So that’s very unique for us, plus I think that the stakes are even higher, the scope is even bigger, the villains we’re facing even badder. Time traveling Vandal Savage (Casper Crump).

Is it fair to say it’s kind of an Avengers set up?
We’re definitely a team. We’re a team. At this point, it’s loosely titled as we’re fighting amongst each other kind of, not trusting everyone, both the villains not trusting the heroes and the heroes not trusting the villains, in a way. There’s a lot of push and pull, which makes for exciting fireworks as we’re still trying to still put out fires around time.

You already played Superman in the movies, what from your experience playing superheroes has helped you play this part?

It’s helped in amazing ways. I don’t even know if it’s so much as onscreen as just Brandon working through and dealing with the trials and tribulations of filming something like this. The stresses, the time constraints, the physical constraints, being in the suit and all these things. Superman really helped me prepare for this and while that was an amazing experience for me, that was a lot at a very early age, so I wasn’t always able to sit and relax and go, “wow this is amazing.” I was just like, one day after the other, gotta get through this day, gotta get through this day, there’s so much that I have to handle. And this, I can sit back and go, “Aw, this is pretty awesome and I know I don’t have to worry about this. I know I can advocate for myself and say, “you know what, I need a little bit more time. I need to do this, whatever.” You just learn those skills as an actor that don’t have to do with the acting. But pay off, pay dividends for the acting so I can be more relaxed on set and just go, “oh, ok, now it’s time to really do my job.”

Were you expecting to play another superhero on TV?
No! A superhero period. Especially not in the DC Universe. 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. So when Mark [Guggenheim] and Andrew [Kreisberg] and Greg Berlanti wanted to meet with me, I thought, “well, this is unique. I should at least hear them out.”

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Are you guys dealing with one villain over the arc of the first season?
Yeah, it’s a serialized show. We’re after Vandal Savage. He’s the Big Bad, essentially, for the season. So it’s all related to capturing him or killing him each episode. He may be in focus more in some episodes and less in focus in some, but that’s always the main goal that we’re achieving. The other would just be working together as a team and establishing relationships. Who’s the leader on this mission, who’s the leader on that mission, which is kind of a cool think, kind of trading off as we go along. Nobody’s in power the whole time, even Rip, who’s the one supposedly bringing us together isn’t always the leader.

Arrow is a very dark show compared to Flash. What would you say the tone is on your show?
We’ve only done [up to] the third episode so it’s hard to know for sure, but I’d say it’s definitely more in line with Flash. I would say overall, much more like Flash. We’ll have a couple scenes that are definitely dramatic stuff that happens, but even the way it’s shot is maybe a little bit darker, but it’s warmer. The scope is different. The cinematography is a little bit different. So even though there’s levity, and a lot of lightness, it’s…I don’t even know the work to explain it. We’ll see it, I guess, when we see it because I haven’t seen much yet, I just feel it. But it will be different levity than in Flash.

Given where we left your character on Arrow and now that you’ve accessed this new kind of power, how is it getting over the technical challenge of presenting his powers in the context of now Marvel’s Ant-Man?
Thankfully, I don’t personally have to deal with that. Our awesome special effects guy [he said the name, but I cannot for the life of me figure out what it is and Google is not helping] will do all that. I’ve seen some animatics of some cool stuff that is really pushing the boundaries for TV. I think what we do on Arrow and Flash has been really impressing me. I think they’re gonna step it up even more. There’s going to be a lot of A.T.O.M. in his element now that that’s the focus of the show. We did that on Arrow a little bit–the trailer you saw–and that will be utilized in Legends. So will A.T.O.M. exo-suit, but definitely a lot more miniaturization, which is gonna be fun stuff.

Catch Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer on Arrow tonight, and then in 2016 in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.

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By day, Marisa Carpico stresses over every detail of America’s election system. By night, she becomes a pop culture and celebrity obsessive. Whether it’s movies, TV or music, she watches and listens to it all so you don’t have to. You can find her risking her life by reading comic books while walking down the crowded streets of New York City, having inappropriate emotional reactions at her iPad screen while riding the subway or occasionally letting her love of a band convince her to stand for hours on end in one of the city’s many purgatorial concert spaces. You can follow her on Twitter to read her insightful social commentary or more likely complain about how cold it is at @MarisaCarpico.
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