Who Is Rip Hunter On 'Legends Of Tomorrow'? DC Comics Give The Time Traveler A Rich History & Future

DC's Legends Of Tomorrow premieres on Thursday evening; and just like that, the CW's superhero line-up owns another night of my TV watching. (Don't tell Olivia Pope.) The spinoff of established series Arrow and The Flash throws together new characters with old friends and enemies who've already crossed paths with Barry Allen, Oliver Queen or both. One of the new additions joining this world through Legends of Tomorrow is Rip Hunter, a mysterious, dashing figure in the trailers for the show. Doctor Who alumnus Arthur Darvill plays Hunter, the man whose interest in each "Legend" brings the unlikely group of allies together. So who is Rip Hunter in DC Comics history, and what will he bring to Legends Of Tomorrow?

"He's got his own agenda, and whether that fits into everyone else's is yet to be seen," Darvill said of Rip Hunter in an interview with ComicBook.com. The actor also admitted to having difficulty finding a strong, singular personality to play just by reading about Hunter's adventures in DC comics. Like many heroes with a deep comic history, Rip Hunter has had a number of narrative makeovers. The character was created in 1959 and starred in his own series not long after his debut. Rip Hunter invented a time travel device called the "time sphere" and became the ringleader of a group of adventurers called the Time Masters. Darvill couldn't tell ComicBook.com if any Time Masters would be showing up on Legends Of Tomorrow ("I don't want to say!"), but it should be noted that Arrow and Flash haven't shied away from either a crowded call sheet or digging up individuals from DC's past.

In the comics, the time traveling Hunter once saved the Earth from alien invaders as a member of the Forgotten Heroes. (Superman got in on that action too.) A crisis event that destroyed the "multiverse" stripped Hunter of his identity: no one on New Earth knew him, just the doppelganger who'd taken his place. Hunter took on immortal Legends Of Tomorrow villain Vandal Savage and his Illuminati, before he was semi-adopted by the Linear Men, a group who kept watch over the fragile timestream of New Earth. He met his fate along with the rest of the Linear Men (aka he "died"), but his post-crisis identity lived on, inventing time travel in his own reality.

Of course, Legends Of Tomorrow will have to cherry-pick which pieces of Rip Hunter's identity and history (future?) to focus on in the show. It's canon in DC comics that the name "Rip Hunter" was chosen by the time traveler in order to protect his real identity; it's unclear if The CW version is also going by an alias and could reveal his true identity.

The Legends team has already managed fan expectations for the appearance of one comic favorite with strong ties to Hunter: Booster Gold is his father, but he won't be a factor on the series anytime soon. “I wish I could tease a Booster thing but, you might have to wait a good long while at least on our show,” co-showrunner Phil Klemmer told The Hollywood Reporter. “Perhaps Booster is being groomed for bigger things." In teaser parlance, that means he definitely is.

One thing's for sure: Legends' Rip Hunter knows what and who he wants. In the preview special DC's Legends Of Tomorrow: Their Time Is Now, co-showrunner Andrew Kreisberg confirmed that Hunter has "come back in time to recruit a very specific group of people." Legends Of Tomorrow will no doubt reveal why the time traveler needs this particular crew, and shed some light on the mysterious Rip Hunter himself.

Image: Jeff Weddell/The CW