After months of mouth-watering trailers and backdoor stage-setting, "DC's Legends of Tomorrow" is finally upon us. The series, which pulls characters from "Arrow" and "The Flash" and sets them adrift in time, premieres this Thursday on the CW.

Moviefone recently screened the two-part pilot and -– spoiler alert -– it's tremendously fun.

Understandably, there are a lot of moving parts. Not only must "Legends" introduce a brand new protagonist in time master Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill), but the series also has to show him wrangle together a large group of colorful heroes and villains from the CW's other comic book shows. The premiere does a great job of weaving in each new character without ever slowing down the narrative, but there is much to digest.

How does the whole time travel thing work exactly? Does "Legends" feel more like "The Flash" or "Arrow"? And what about guest stars -– are there any of them? Don't worry; we've got you covered.

Here are the only 9 things you need to know about "DC's Legends of Tomorrow" premiere:

1. 'Legends' Is Bigger and More Ambitious Than 'Arrow' or 'The Flash'
From the very beginning, this show feels like more than just a "Flash" and "Arrow" spinoff. For starters, "Legends" is decidedly more ambitious. It's been fun watching Barry and Ollie protect their respective cities from countless Bad Guys of the Week, but Rip Hunter and his motley crew are tasked with something bigger: defending all of time and space from the immortal villain Vandal Savage.

The world of "Legends" also feels more fleshed out than its predecessors. "Flash" and "Arrow" are filled with DC Comics references aplenty, but, aside from Cisco Ramon's (Carlos Valdes) occasional pop culture riffs, those worlds feel mostly self-contained. "Legends," on the other hand, pays homage to quite a few genre shows and movies that have nothing to do with comics or superheroes.

From Rip's time-hopping spaceship, which borrows heavily from "Firefly," to his people, the Time Masters, who pretty much resemble "Doctor Who's" time lords, this feels more like a standalone sci-fi show in some ways than it does a DC Comics spinoff. There's even a clear shout out to "Back to the Future" when one character, who may have disrupted his timeline, stares at a ring on his hand as it phases in and out of existence. These are minor hat tips, to be sure, but they help the series come into its own.

That said...

2. If You Had to Compare Them, 'Legends' Is More 'Flash' Than 'Arrow'
"Legends" may already be standing on its own legs, but there's no escaping the fact that the series borrows elements from the CW's other superhero shows. With the exception of Rip Hunter, all of the show's main characters were first introduced on the network's other properties, with six of the eight debuting on "The Flash." Likewise, the tone thus far is more "Flash" than "Arrow." The stakes are high, but so is everyone's mood. It's more light-hearted than "Arrow"; these characters are too busy engaging in witty banter to brood about their inner-demons.

"Legends of Tomorrow's" action style draws pretty evenly from both shows. "Arrow's" trademark fight choreography rears its head during White Canary's melees, while "The Flash's" colorful effects take center stage whenever Firestorm appears. The other characters dabble in both hand-to-hand combat and VFX-generated freeze rays or energy blasts. Atom's fighting style, in particular, has evolved since his days on "Arrow." There he fought like Marvel's "Iron Man," but here his style is much more similar to Ant-Man," which is more fun to watch. The premiere's most memorable action sequence is a bar brawl, actually, that's far removed from anything DC's other superhero shows have ever done. But more on that in a bit...

3. A Quiver of 'Arrow' Cameos
One place where "Arrow" gets an edge is in the guest cameo department. Black Canary, aka Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy), and Green Arrow, aka Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), both appear where they help former "Arrow" heroes transition over to "Legends." Laurel encourages her reincarnated sister Sara
(Caity Lotz) to "step out of the shadows" and become White Canary, while Ollie teams up with Atom for a fun mini-adventure.

4. Even Fictional Characters Can't Escape 'Star Wars'
These days everyone has a case of "Star Wars" fever, even fictional TV characters. So, when the "Legends" crew is hunted by a time-jumping bounty hunter who looks suspiciously like a lovechild of Boba Fett and the chrome trooper from "Force Awakens," they point out the obvious. Sure, "Flash's" resident pop culture guru Cisco has name-checked "Star Wars" before, but this time it feels like it's actually part of the story.

5. Rip Hunter Is Used Sparingly
The one brand new character that "Legends" introduces, time master and de facto chaperone Rip Hunter, seemingly gets the least amount of screen time of all the regulars. Certainly the creators see value in doling out his backstory sparingly, but I expected him to be the frontman for the Time Traveling All-Stars and he instead comes across as more of a conductor for the Time Traveling Orchestra. Still, he gets some great lines in.

6. 'Time in a Bottle' Gets a Run for Its Money
Even people who didn't much care for "X-Men: Days of Future Past" recognized genius in one particular scene: Quicksilver's slow motion assault on the Pentagon, set to Jim Croce's "Time in a Bottle." Well, DC tries one-upping that with a wonderfully constructed bar brawl juxtaposed against another under-appreciated '70s song (this time from Captain and Tennille). The whole sequence is just... epic.

7. Heat Wave Gets the Biggest Upgrade
Heat Wave -- a disgruntled firefighter-turned-arsonist — made for a decent enough villain of the week on "The Flash," but bringing him over to "Legends" as a regular seemed risky. For starters, the group has another fire-spewing badass in Firestorm, so what role could Heat Wave even fill? As it turns out: comic relief.

On "The Flash," Heat Wave frequently took a backseat to his literal partner in crime, Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller), but here Dominic outshines his former "Prison Break" costar, getting almost all of the pilot's best lines. Purcell is hilarious throughout, thanks to both sharply written one-liners and his perfect delivery.

Another character that shines brighter on "Legends" than he did on "The Flash" is Dr. Martin Stein (Victor Garber), AKA Firestorm's older and more curmudgeonly half. Dr. Stein plays a major role in the premiere and he's never been funnier or more endearing.

8. Someone Gets Knocked Out With a Giant Glass Bong
Seriously. And it works. It's just that kind of show.

9. It Doesn't Overdo the Whole Time Travel Thing
Unlike most time travel and trans-dimensional shows ("Quantum Leap," "Doctor Who," "Sliders," etc.), "Legends" doesn't seem inclined to switch eras and locations every single week. Aside from the future-set intro and a quick montage in 2016, the two-part premiere takes place almost entirely in the mid '70s. And at the end of the two-parter, we're left with the impression that we might be sticking around the Disco Days for another episode or two.

It's a smart decision for several reasons. First, it allows the writers to take a deeper dive into each time period, which should eventually serve to set "Legends" apart from the aforementioned period-hoppers. Instead of a token Nixon mention, for instance, we get music from Earth, Wind, & Fire and a snippet from "Welcome Back Kotter." Second, staying in the same decade for a few episodes at a time will save producers a few bucks on sets and wardrobes, freeing up more cash for the costly but necessary stuff, like high-end visual effects and "Flash," "Arrow," and possibly even "Supergirl" guest stars.

And, for those time travel aficionados wondering whether "Legends" time-space continuum is fixed or malleable, it looks like we're getting a mixture of them both.

"Time is like cement," Rip informs his crew. "It takes a while to harden and become permanent."

"DC's Legends of Tomorrow" premieres Thursday, Jan. 21 at 8pm ET on The CW. Part two of the pilot airs Thursday, Jan. 28.

DC's Legends of Tomorrow
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Based on 22 critics

"Arrow" and "The Flash" have some new superhero company in the CW's lineup with the addition of "DC's Legends of Tomorrow." After seeing what doom the future holds, time-... Read More

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