Friday, 11 May 2018

When Death Actually Means Something

There’s an unwritten law in the world of fantasy and science fiction these days, that if a character dies he or she will inevitably come back form the dead.

They’ve all done it, from Superman to the Bucky Barnes to Gwen Stacy to Jon Snow to Vince McMahon. I’ve lost count of the number of times this has happened. Which is why the death of Professor Martin Stein in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow television series was surprising, especially considering the show’s time travel premise.

When Stein died during the Crisis on Earth-X Arrowverse crossover, and when the next Legends episode featured an appearance from his younger self, I thought that Jefferson Jackson, the other half of the Firestorm partnership, would spill the beans about Stein’s demise to the younger version so that the older Stein’s death would be averted in future.

So you can imagine my surprise when it was revealed that the younger Stein had destroyed the letter that Jax had given to him because he didn’t want to know what was going to happen in the future.

If Stein had read the letter and had avoided death at the hands of those parallel-Earth Nazis it would have seemed like a complete cop out, especially given Stein’s powerful and quite touching death scene aboard the Waverider.

Professor Stein’s escape from the clutches of death never happened, and in the grand scheme of things it showed that his death actually meant something, that it wasn’t in vain.

Although I get the feeling that given the nature of DC’s multi-verse another version of Professor Stein will probably appear sometime in the future. It will still feel like a cop-out though, even though we’d get a return from the excellent Victor Garber.