The character of Ray Palmer and his alter-ego The Atom first made his debut in the Arrowverse on Arrow. He eventually made a full transition to DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. There were many changes made in adapting Ray Palmer and The Atom from comics to television. Some of these changes were for the better, while some changes were not as great for the character.
While certain aspects are set in stone in The Atom’s Legends of Tomorrow adaptation, some changes can still be changed or added in the show in the future. Here are five changes that worked and five that didn’t.
Updated April 6, 2020 by George Chrysostomou Now that the Atom has said his final farewell, it’s a perfect time to look back over his time in the Arrowverse. While this version of the character was different from the comics, not every change was an improvement.
14 Worse: Love Triangles
Upon being introduced into Arrow, Ray Palmer quickly became a love interest of Felicity Smoak and a rival of Oliver Queen. While the conflict provided drama for the show, many fans did not appreciate Ray coming between Oliver and Felicity. The triangle ended with Ray and Felicity breaking up.
However, Ray soon found himself on another love triangle in season one of Legends of Tomorrow. After Carter Hall/Hawkman’s death, Ray ends up becoming engaged to Kendra Saunders/Hawkgirl. However, their relationship ends once Carter reincarnates. While these love triangles are long over, they were definitely not great storylines for the character.
13 Better: Finding His Happy Ending
Ray Palmer’s had a lot of difficulties in his life. From the early death of his fiancee to the many struggles he has faced during his super hero life. The boy scout deserved a happy ending and luckily the show managed to give him one.
After falling in love and getting married to Nora Darhk, they decided to leave the Waverider behind to start a life together. It’s a satisfying conclusion for the character and one that he’s definitely earned throughout the course of the show.
12 Worse: Lack Of Legacy
In the comics the Atom actually disappears, leaving behind his technology for another to use. Ryan Choi takes up the mantle of the Atom and therefore replaces Ray Palmer, carrying on the legacy of this heroic character.
The Arrowverse, despite introducing Choi, doesn’t seem to be running with this story. That’s a real shame as not only is Choi a pretty great character, he also would be a constant reminder of the legacy of Ray Palmer and everything he achieved.
11 Better: Time Travelling Escapades
One of the greatest aspects of Ray joining the Legends was that he got to go on a number of historical adventures. Whether it was the old west, battling alongside King Arthur or even in WWII, Ray had an absolute blast.
These changes made the character’s adventures even more exciting than the comics. Ray has always been an explorer at heart, even when trying to use his shrinking technology, so this time travel mission was always a perfect fit for him.
10 Worse: Villainous Turn
Throughout the show the villain Neron was slowly introduced, having been responsible for a number of magical crimes and problems. After getting released from his imprisonment, Neron actually bonds to the Atom.
While it was to save his friend, it was still a little cheesy and didn’t do much for the character. Ray Palmer turned into a villain for a few episodes as Nero took control, but luckily this was all reversed in time.
9 Better: Ray Palmer’s Personality
In the comics, Ray Palmer is hard-working and dedicated to solving problems that arise. He is a brilliant scientist and develops the Atom suit using his intellect. He is also considered a level-headed and an overall likable hero and person.
Ray Palmer’s introduction into the Arrowverse includes these qualities while also making him even more of a charismatic and fun character. In Legends of Tomorrow, he gets to have many comedic moments and drops many fun, nerdy references as he and the rest of the Legends have their adventures throughout time.
8 Worse: Lack Of Friendship With Hawkman
In the comics, Ray’s best friend was Carter Hall/Hawkman. They had a series of comics where they fought alongside each other. Hawkman even gifted Ray with a steed to ride, a Myna bird named Captain Mynah. In Legends of Tomorrow, Hawkman played an integral role in the first season but died after two episodes. Because of this change, Ray and Carter barely interacted and didn’t get to develop their friendship.
In addition, Ray temporarily entered a relationship with Carter’s longtime love Kendra. Though the story of Hawkman and Hawkgirl didn’t last long on Legends of Tomorrow, it would have been nice to see a little more interaction with Ray and the rest of the team before they left.
7 Better: Becoming The Atom
Both versions of Ray Palmer built their version of The Atom suit. The comics version of the story had Ray experimenting with white dwarf star material. He soon found out that he could shrink items with the material and built a suit to shrink himself. When out spelunking with his girlfriend, he found himself trapped in the cave.
To escape, he had to use the suit to shrink down and open a hole in a rock. The Arrowverse version of Ray was motivated by the loss of his fiancée and built the suit to prevent further attacks against innocent people. While both paths lead to Ray becoming a hero, Arrowverse Ray’s motivation was stronger.
6 Worse: Lack Of Metagene
In the comics, Ray’s experiments led to every item he tried shrinking exploding. When Ray himself doesn’t explode upon shrinking himself to escape a cave, he assumes it is due to his genetic makeup. It is later implied that Ray has the metagene that allows his body to withstand the effects of shrinking.
In the Arrowverse, Ray survives an explosion during testing his suit but doesn’t seem to have the metagene himself. While the show’s Ray shares comics’ Ray’s intellect, it would have been cool to see him also possess the metagene as well.
5 Better: A Fresh Start
During the initial testing of the Atom suit technology, the suit explodes, and Ray is believed to be dead. After he is revealed to be alive, Rip Hunter eventually recruits him to join the Legends.
Because he is presumed dead, Ray is able to leave his former life behind and fully embrace his role as the Atom and an integral part of the Legends team. The comics version of Ray also leaves his old life behind after his divorce but ends up living alone on an alien planet instead.
4 Worse: The Lack Of Sword
In the short Sword of the Atom mini-series of comics, Ray wields a sword and shield as he spends time fighting aliens in gladiator battles. Upon escaping, he continues to use the sword in battles during his time on the aforementioned alien planet.
While Ray has wielded a sword a couple of times during adventures on Legends of Tomorrow, the sword still hasn’t made its way into Ray’s tool belt. It would be really fun to see Ray wield the sword in his suit on a full-time basis and would fit in well with the rest of the Legends’ team.
3 Better: The Suit
In the comics, the Atom’s suit is comprised of blue and red spandex with an atomic symbol on the head. He wears a belt that contains all of the Atom’s shrinking abilities. The suit looks nice, but a little dated and doesn’t really set itself apart from other spandex suits.
The Atom’s suits on Legends of Tomorrow are more modern and high-tech looking while maintaining the color scheme and symbols from the original costume. While both versions of the costumes are both great, the TV version of the suit is an upgrade for a modern audience.
2 Worse: Ray’s Profession
Ray’s introduction to Arrow made Ray a foil to Oliver Queen. Ray became the CEO of Palmer Technologies, formerly known as Queen Consolidated. In the comics, Ray was a science professor who worked on the Atom technology in his spare time.
The DC Universe already contains many businessmen and CEOs that take up crime or crime-fighting in their spare time. Ray’s position as a professor is more relatable and allows him to mentor his eventual successor, Ryan Choi. Even though Ray leaves his life as CEO behind, the comics role of professor worked better for his character.
1 Better: Found Family
Over his time with the Legends, Ray has formed many lasting friendships and relationships with other team members, especially Nate Heywood and Mick Rory. Ray was a lonely child who was a victim of bullying, as an episode involving his childhood reveals.
After the Legends, including his future self, step in to save his life, Ray assures his younger self that he will eventually find people he will fit in with. The message and theme of found family is an important one, and the addition adds to Ray’s character on Legends of Tomorrow.
DC hero The Atom appears on the hit show DC's Legends of Tomorrow, with both good and bad changes made to his character.