Co-showrunner Phil Klemmer Discusses New Season of ‘DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, the wonderfully wacky and zany sibling of the Arrowverse, is coming back for its sixth season on May 2. The season five finale left fans on a cliffhanger with Sara’s abrupt abduction by aliens after the team drunkly celebrated their victory over the Fates in 1970s London. Even besides the capture of their leader, the Legends have many other team dynamics going on, and Nerds of Color was able to speak via phone call with co-showrunner and Executive Producer Phil Klemmer on what fans can expect for our ragtag group this upcoming season.

Mild plot and setup spoilers for the end of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season 5 finale and Season 6 follow

This interview has been edited for length and clarity

First off, I’m a huge fan of Legends, and part of why I love it is it’s seems to have done it all! Time travel, horror, fantasy, sci-fi, superheroics, and now we have aliens in Season 6! So I’m just curious for where you see the team going in future seasons, including the recently announced Season 7! Congratulations on that by the way!

Klemmer: Thanks! You caught me at a very vulnerable part at the end of this season where my impulse is to always say “Oh God we’ve got to simplify [the show], we’ve got to rein it in! We’ve got to find ways to make our lives more livable by fewer visual effects! Fewer moving parts! Fewer characters! Fewer stunts! Spaceships!” Again, we broke the conceptual conceit for this episode before there was a pandemic, then there was a pandemic, and then we had this moment where we could have abandoned it or followed through, and we decided to follow through! But the consequences of that is that it’s our most ambitious season ever that was created during the most challenging time that I’ve certainly worked through. The fact that we made to this finish line, or thereabout, the five-yard line, now I’m overcome with this feeling that next season is going to be so incredibly simple, but I guarantee that once we get the writers room together and somebody has the first wacky idea, we’re all going to run with that and find a way to complicate things! For whatever reason that’s like the way you’re describing the show. It’s got a little of everything in it! I don’t know why we have that maximalist mashup impulse but it’s hard to give up!

Yeah! It’s like the DNA of the show, which I and the rest of the fanbase love so much! Moving on, my favorite character is Zari, partially because I’m Kurdish American and she’s Iranian American (which are related) and the first time I’ve ever seen myself represented in superhero media. So, I wanted to ask about some of the dynamics going on with the Tarazi siblings. So, we had Zari 1.0 return to the Air Totem at the end of last season, so, in effect she is still with Zari 2.0 and Behrad. So, I’m curious if we’ll be seeing her again and what we’ll be getting of this sibling trio’s relationship this season?

We’re definitely going to see Zari 1.0, The interesting thing is we didn’t get a lot of face time between Zari 2.0 and Behrad last year because he died again, and they brought him back. This season, we find they don’t actually know each other very well! She was a global superstar, he was a stoner lying to his parents, and now that they’re kind of living under the roof of the Waverider, we wanted to really dig into the sibling dynamics, and find out what it was like for Behrad to grow up in the shadow of a global superstar. You know, he doesn’t resent being eclipsed by her starpower, but in the second episode we learn about his summer job flipping burgers in a restaurant and Zari’s going to have to take a job flipping burgers! Again he’s had this sort of “live in her world” dynamic and now she’s going to have to live in his. Obviously now they’re sharing the totem, so they’re going to have to learn how to share powers, and then Zari’s on the precipice of an ill-advised romance with Constantine, which is a red flag even for a peace loving happy guy like Behrad!

What can you tell us more of Zari’s romance with Constantine, or as the fandom knows them, “ConstanZ”?

Yeah! I mean they both clearly have terrible taste in love! (Laughs) All of Constantine’s lovers get sent to Hell and Zari dates DJs for money. So all of her romances have been fabricated for social media potential, and all of his romances have been doomed because Constantine seems to drag everybody down into the same darkness that he lives in, but that’s what makes them so irresistible to one another. Zari is a woman who controls everything in her life and she’s not daunted by the idea of controlling her relationship with John, but that obviously becomes a lot harder to do if you’re in sort of like an easy-breezy “friends with benefits” relationship that turns into something real. Which I don’t think Zari’s ever had the luxury of knowing anything real like that, you know?

Yeah it’s definitely going to be a challenge for her this season. One more question on Zari and Behrad: Will we be seeing more of their family as we’ve seen in the previous season, and get maybe more exploration of their Iranian culture and heritage?

Yeah! We’re going to get to see their mom again, we’re going to learn about the pressures of being a Persian American young woman whose mother desperately wants her to get married, but that’s not what Zari wants to do. We’ll learn about what it’s like when Mom finds out that she’s dating a weirdo magician with bleached hair from North Enland! We’ll also get under a bit of Behrad’s origin story. We played light [previously] that he likes to smoke weed, and doesn’t have any materialist ambitions, but this season we have an episode that kind of explores what made [him] Behrad! It all goes back to a sitcom that starred another Muslim-American that kind of gave him permission to be the guy that he is. We’ve explored the importance of pop culture [before], we’ve had an episode where Nate and Ray Palmer’s life courses were changed when George Lucas decided not to make movies, and we’re doing a sort of similar thing that talks about representation in pop culture and how that affects Behrad Tarazi to have something that inspired him, and then to lose that based on some weird alien that comes and upsets the timeline! We previously did bit of a riff on Friends in a previous episode, but this is a whole episode that lives in a multi-cam sitcom! It was Behrad’s favorite show when he was growing up.

Now that she’s made peace with her mother’s passing last season, what’s next for Astra?

We’re sort of positioning Astra as someone who’s trying to make a go at living in the real world, after she’s been in Hell for so long. This sounds really sad but I’m saying it out loud, but she’s going to discover that living in the real world is in a lot of ways not that different from living in Hell. There are vile people who treat her in horrible ways, because they’re racist, or sexist, or classist, etc., and it’s an eye-opening experience for Astra to learn that she has to deal with hellish people on Earth, but at least she had power when she was the Queen of Hell. So it’s her re-entry kind of shock and having to come to terms with the fact that the world topside is as flawed as it was below.

What can you tell us about the new Legend, Esperanza Cruz/Spooner, and the dynamic she’ll bring to the team?

She’s our resident alien expert! She believe that she was kidnapped [by aliens] so she’s the sort of best lead that we have to try to find out where the aliens took Sara. She’s grappling with a lot as well. She doesn’t understand why she and her mother were taken together and that her mom wasn’t returned. It’s really the search for her to understand what happened that fateful night. We’re shooting the finale [now] and really that’s a Spooner story. It all comes back to her and she’s just dynamite. I love [her actress] Lisseth, I love [Astra’s actress] Olivia too, and we’ve just been so lucky with all these new performers we’ve brought on to the show!

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow returns this Sunday, May 2, airing and streaming on The CW.