'Legends of Tomorrow': Unpacking the Mythical Unicorn in "The Virgin Gary"

Legends of Tomorrow returned tonight with a very magical season premiere, so magical that you might not ever see unicorns the same way again.

Spoilers for tonight's Season 4 premiere of Legends of Tomorrow, "The Virgin Gary", below.

Tonight, the most heroic band of misfits in the multiverse found themselves facing off with the first magical, mythical creature accidentally let out in the process of defeating Mallus at the end of Season 3 -- a unicorn. While unicorns are generally seen as beautiful, sparkly, truly special creatures full of rainbows and joy, the unicorn the Legends dealt with was sparkly and rainbow-tastic for sure. But it was also downright evil, goring out the hearts of hippies at Woodstock and eating them.

That's right, the unicorn on Legends was a beast literally from hell, one that needed to be sent back there as soon as possible in a team effort by the Legends, Gary, and Constantine.

It turns out that when it comes to unicorns there's a pretty interesting range of stories and myths attributed to the creatures and Legends of Tomorrow played up some of them in some very clever ways. For starters, there's not one general myth or legend about unicorns. The one-horned legendary creature exists across multiple cultures and has appeared in stories since antiquity. Unicorns even appear in the Christian Bible, with the animal called the "re'em" that is frequently translated to mean "unicorn".

And not all iterations of unicorns are horse-like. Iranian legends depict the creature as a winged aurochs -- aurochs were a now-extinct species of wild cattle -- while Chinese mythology describes a hybrid, chimera-like animal complete with green scales and the head of a lion plus the horn. The beautiful, horse-like creature has most of its roots in European folklore which frequently depicts the unicorn as a white, horse-like creature with a long, beautiful horn.

It's European mythology that "The Virgin Gary" appears to draw from when it comes to the beast the Legends faced tonight. In stories from Renaissance period Europe, unicorns were said to be wild creatures that could only be tamed by a maiden -- read: young female virgin. According to those legends, a once tamed by the virgin, a unicorn who is naturally a vicious, wild, and lethal beast, would calm down, lie its head in the virgin's lap, and in some stories, would suckle at the virgin's breast before falling asleep.

Of course, the virgins were usually used to tame the unicorns, so they could be brutally slaughtered by hunters. It's a story that Legends turns on its head by having the unicorn be a tame and beautiful creature who lures in the unwitting only to gore them to death and eat their hearts. And when it comes to how Constantine and the team manages to send the unicorn to hell? That feels very much like the idea of the tamed unicorn at the virgin's breast turned upside down with the "virgin" Gary having his nipple ripped completely off by the unicorn.

And while this unicorn experience was an insane way to work with myth and kick off Season 4, according to Adam Tsekhman who plays Gary Green on the series, there's more to come.

"Oh bonkers," Tsekhman told ComicBook.com about the episode. "I loved it. I couldn't believe it. It was just like, and Gary loses a nipple. Like, wow. This is amazing. Like how did you guys come up with this? Yeah, I mean I'm so for the crazier the show goes. But at the same time I was like, 'Wow this is so wild. I hope the fans enjoy it' but that's kind of the brand of the show. Go bold."

Tsekhman also said there was more "super fun" packed in the rest of the season.

"Yeah, and I think that they're sort of introducing these mythical creatures is turning out great," he said. "I think the season has been awesome. Really exciting and just super fun. Super fun."

What did you think about Legends of Tomorrow's interesting twist on unicorn mythology? Let us know in the comments!


Legends of Tomorrow airs Mondays at 9/8c on The CW.