Firestorm is an awesome concept for a superhero. I didn’t realize it until watching Episode 4 of Legends of Tomorrow, “White Knights,” which makes a really strong case for a Jax and Professor Stein spin-off (not that the Arrowverse is in need of another). There are simply so many possibilities to explore in a young, arrogant hot-head needing an overly cautious, elder genius to be a superhero. Jax and Stein can fulfill five seasons of TV on the CW, and it’d be criminal if they didn’t.
Remember how in the Star Wars prequels (I know, hear me out) Anakin and Obi-Wan had a conflicting mentor-student relationship? That’s Firestorm, a two-for-one superhero in which the two can’t stand each other. While Jax and Stein’s conflict were a minor plot to the larger story of Vandal Savage’s foothold in Cold War Russia, Victor Garber’s powerful performance as well as Franz Drameh’s boyish expressions anchored their heavy moments that dripped with heat.
While it feels tired since the two were thought to have already squashed their quarrels, they revisit aspects of their shared predicament not initially explored since Legends of Tomorrow began.
For some reason, Stein looks down on Jax’s life as a mechanic, which he took on only because the nuclear accelerator explosion ruined his college prospects. Jax counter-argues with his single mom, whom he abandoned — without his own consent! — in 2016. If Jax dies, Momma Jefferson will live until her end of days why her baby boy left her, making Jax determined to live through Vandal Savage.
Stein’s got nothing. It’s haunted him quietly and now he can’t avoid the fact: Stein endangered Jax, against his will, and now Stein feels responsible to ensure Jax lives even at the cost of his own life and his own sacrifices.
Furthermore, youth versus age is a common but rich theme that pervades DC Comics lore, like in the acclaimed Kingdom Come series from Mark Waid where Superman fought his younger, arrogant equal Shazam.
What Legends of Tomorrow showed is just one possibility of Stein and Jax’s relationship that I hope is taken full advantage of in the near future. Two people who can’t stand each other and live vastly different lives, forced to work together for a greater good is a powerfully resonant story. If Firestorm were an American cultural icon you can bet Firestorm metaphors would run amok in political essays and election rhetoric.
Thankfully, we’re not there yet. Firestorm is just two people learning to get along, and I’d watch binge the hell out of that show.