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SYFY WIRE Brandon Routh

Brandon Routh explains why he agreed to play The Atom again after that tough Arrowverse exit

Ray Palmer returned thanks to the passion of Arrowverse fans.

By Matthew Jackson
Brandon Routh, DC's Legends of Tomorrow episode "Romeo V. Juliet: Dawn of Justness"

More than two years ago, Brandon Routh and Courtney Ford, a real life husband and wife acting team, found themselves somewhat unceremoniously removed from the main cast of DC's Legends of Tomorrow, the time-hopping CW superhero series that Routh had been part of since the show launched back in 2016. At the time, Routh called the exit "challenging," and made it clear that leaving the character of Ray Palmer, aka The Atom, behind had not been his decision. It was a dark moment for a character and an actor who had been one of the Arrowverse's brightest lights for years. 

Thankfully, the exit wasn't completely permanent. Routh has since returned as Ray Palmer for episodes of both The Flash and Legends (which celebrated its 100th episode last year with a big character reunion), alongside Ford, who returned as her character (and Ray's wife) Nora Darhk. For many fans, it was a long time coming, and a welcome return for two beloved figures in a constantly shifting small-screen universe, but how did it happen after a rather sad departure back in 2019? 

On a recent episode of Michael Rosenbaum's podcast Inside of You, Routh opened up about his return to the franchise in an interview taped shortly before Ray actually returned to the show last fall. First, in discussing the departure itself, Routh framed things as an exercise in looking at the positives in his life and career. 

"You know, people make decisions, right? Sometimes people make good decisions and sometimes people make bad decisions, right? Bad decisions happen all the time… all the time… all the time," he said. "And sometimes they affect us negatively and we can choose to be upset with that for the rest of our lives or we can work to come to terms with it, I guess, and to find, as they say, [how to] make lemonade out of lemons. And that's what I've been working on doing, and I think I speak for Courtney [Ford] in saying the same thing."

But even as Routh and Ford came to terms with what happened with their Legends exit, they also found that the show's fans were still celebrating and supporting them even after they were gone, which played a key role in their decision to return. 

"And knowing, meanwhile, by fan reaction and all the love we've gotten over the last couple years, that even though one person made this decision, that it was a bad decision nobody supports," Routh said. "Nobody has supported that decision and so that's one reason why… one of the reasons why we said yes to coming back. Because we knew that the fans would appreciate it and also we made sure that in coming back that we were standing on our own worth and made our own requests to make sure that we felt lik we were being respected, and that happened this time around. So we were happy to be a part of it and also to get an opportunity to work again with Wentworth [Miller] and Victor [Garber] and Falk [Hentschel]."

Will Routh return to play Ray Palmer yet again down the line? Only time will tell, but the Arrowverse is vast, and the possibilities are endless.