Comic books are enjoying a lucrative Renaissance thanks to increased exposure over the last decade due to blockbuster films and critically and commercially acclaimed television shows. Who thought you’d ever see the day when not only your mother recognizes Thor but also finds him attractive? Young adults may struggle to think back to a time when comics were just a niche market appealing to diehard fans hoarding boxes of cardboard-reinforced, plastic sleeve-protected magic. These days, you’re the outcast if you haven’t seen the trailer for the next Captain America
, binge-watched the first season of Jessica Jones
, or weighed in on Jared Leto’s incarnation of the Joker. Now that comic book-based media has been embraced by the mainstream so fervently, it’s interesting to see how current hot topics, such as marijuana use, come into play. With America’s growing acceptance of cannabis, it was still a surprise when DC’s Legends of Tomorrow
, a show featured on the teen-friendly CW network, introduced us to some weed smoking superheroes in its second episode.
D-List Heroes Elevated to the A-Team
Legends of Tomorrow
is a grab bag of colorful comic book tropes rolled into a weekly hour featuring a rag tag team of classic DC superheroes and a couple of anti-heroes for good measure. As if that weren’t enough, the series also finds this unlikely group travelling through time on a mission of vengeance, earning it the popular comparison of Justice League meets Dr. Who
. Add in a few character cameos from the already-popular DC-based shows Arrow
and The Flash
, also broadcast on the CW, and you’ve got almost a surefire combination.
A Door Opened by the Conflicted Hero
In most cases, it has already been established that the protagonists of Legends of Tomorrow
are conflicted heroes to say the least, if not outright villains gesturing toward redemption. However, one of the more popular members of the team, Sara Lance a.k.a. White Canary, was mainly viewed as one of the good guys throughout several seasons of Arrow
. Her time as an assassin painted her as more of a light-leaning anti-hero and her moments of rage can actually be credited more to a mystical handicap than any actual fault in her character. She does enough questionable acts to play the “not a role model” card while still remaining firmly on the side of the heroes when the dust settles. That being said, she also quickly outs herself in the second episode of Legends of Tomorrow
as the most down to smoke some weed. She is emphatically joined by the young and excitable Jefferson Jackson, half of the 2-in-1 superhero combo Firestorm.
Weed Smoking Legends
The episode finds the group time travelling to the ‘60s and quickly fracturing into odd-couple factions with Lance in pursuit of the younger version of Professor Stein, another member of the team often defined by his stuffiness and reservation. Of course, the younger version of Stein is revealed to be a pothead, much to Lance’s amusement. Perhaps the most telling moment comes when, unable to coax answers from the younger Stein, Lance decisively clocks him with his glass pipe before hitting the road. But on the way out, she hesitates to snag 3 joints from the younger Stein’s lab, proving that the weed smoking wasn’t just a product of “when in the ‘60s, do as the hippies do” mentality.
Spider-Man’s War Against Marijuana
In the end, White Canary and both halves of Firestorm have shown that they have not only smoked weed but enjoyed it. Among the Legends of Tomorrow
gang, these aren’t the villains moving toward redemption. These are the more heroic elements of the group, smoking weed like it’s no big deal. It’s a far cry from the anti-drug PSA propaganda that historically punctuated the pages of our comic books. This always seemed to be more of a trait of Marvel comics, culminating in the much-derided Fastlane
inserts of the late ‘90s that found Spiderman trying to save an intern from his own drug use. The beautifully-illustrated interruptions found everyone from Iron Man and Captain America to Wolverine and the Fantastic Four preaching about the life-destroying pitfall of smoking weed. The Office of National Drug Control Policy had their hands all over this storyline which added more than a whiff of Reefer Madness
-style hysteria. It’s all compiled in the awkwardly titled Spider-Man Fights Substance Abuse
The DC Cannabis Club
By contrast, DC as a whole has often been ambiguous about any stance on weed smoking, if not quietly in favor of it. The DC/Vertigo imprint, known primarily for horror-based comics aimed at an adult audience, featured an issue of Hellblazer
in which, at a birthday celebration for protagonist John Constantine, Swamp Thing offers a gift of a fast-growing cannabis plant of which all of the partygoers eagerly partake. Hellblazer
was the basis for the Keanu Reeves film Constantine
as well as the TV show of the same name which aired for one season on NBC. In October 2014, DC also published The Harley Quinn Annual
#1 designed around the highly popular supervillain with a not-so-subtle nod to her favorite plant. Bleeding Cool
covered the issue, announcing “The U.S. version will contain smells including leather, suntan lotion, pizza and what’s referred to in the story as ‘cannabisylocibe 7-A.’ The smell of cannabis, that is.” Harley Quinn is one of the most anticipated characters in DC’s forthcoming Suicide Squad
Will weed smoking superheroes become more commonplace as we move ever closer to cannabis legalization in America? While that remains to be seen, it’s still telling that joints are turning up between the fingers of some rather prominent superheroes and, in the case of Harley Quinn, a much-loved supervillain. Perhaps it takes a few “legends of tomorrow” to light a joint in these prohibition days and show that smoking weed does not render one an inept waste of life. Even superheroes can enjoy a joint.