Tala Ashe as Zari Tomaz in Legends of Tomorrow
|Portrayed by||Tala Ashe|
|Affiliation||Legends of Tomorrow|
|Family||Behrad Tarazi (brother)|
Zari Tomaz is a fictional character portrayed by Tala Ashe in the CW series Legends of Tomorrow. Loosely inspired by the characters Andrea Thomas and Adrianna Tomaz, both of whom use the moniker Isis, Zari was created by Phil Klemmer and Marc Guggenheim, and introduced in the series' third season episode "Zari". She is a hacktivist from a dystopian 2042 and joins the time-travelling Legends of Tomorrow, assisting them on their numerous adventures.
Zari Tomaz is a Muslim hacktivist living in 2042 Seattle, which is being ruled by a fascist A.R.G.U.S. who have banned metahumans and religion. She is wanted for multiple crimes, including practicing religion. The time-travelling Legends of Tomorrow arrive in 2042 via the Waverider and find Zari, who demands help in rescuing her brother from an A.R.G.U.S. black site. The Legends assent, Zari retrieves her brother's mystical amulet from the site, and admits to duping the Legends. She flies away using the amulet. Ray Palmer pursues Zari to a campsite where her family was to rendezvous, but Zari finds it completely destroyed and her family not there. She tells Ray her brother was killed by A.R.G.U.S. who then took his amulet. The assassin Kuasa attacks Zari, but retreats when the Legends intervene. Mick Rory and Amaya Jiwe convince Zari to join the Legends, rather than remain a fugitive being hunted by A.R.G.U.S. Amaya explains that Zari's amulet is actually a totem, similar to her own.
Zari tries hacking the Waveriders AI Gideon's system to find a way to prevent her home from being destroyed in the future, but is unsuccessful. Gideon later tells Zari that she cannot save 2042 without the Legends. Sara Lance assures Zari it might be possible to save her brother. To kill the demon Mallus, Zari, Sara, Mick, Amaya, Nate Heywood and Wally West use their totems to create the ultimate warrior: an enlarged Beebo, and succeed.
Following Mallus' defeat, Zari continues operating with the Legends, assisting them on their missions to capture magical creatures called "fugitives", which have been released throughout time. She feels sympathy for one named Charlie, who is ultimately imprisoned aboard the Waverider instead of being banished to hell by John Constantine. When Constantine uses time travel to prevent his lover Desmond from being banished to hell, the Legends' lives are changed drastically, including Zari who is transformed into a cat. After several failed attempts to fix the timeline result in various other Legends or their allies being killed in increasingly bizarre ways, the restored Zari convinces Constantine to restore the original timeline with Desmond.
When the Time Bureau employee Mona Wu is blamed for a fugitive named Konane's escape, Nate and Zari discover that the footage of Konane's escape has been altered by Nate's father Hank, confirming Mona's innocence. After Zari is hired by the Bureau, she investigates Hank and tells Nate he is embezzling Bureau funds to experiment on fugitives. When Sunjay, a fugitive uses Kamadeva's ashes to cause Zari's sexual desires to manifest in her dreams, she dreams of having a threesome with him and Nate. Mona prevents Zari from marrying Sunjay, while Nate discovers his now deceased father was not torturing the fugitives, but training them for a proposed theme park. Sara sends Zari and Nate on a mission to 1933 without the other Legends, mainly to get them romantically involved. The mission ends with Zari and Nate admitting their love for each other, and the acquisition of a dragon egg. While Zari and Charlie infiltrate the Bureau to save the fugitives that Neron plans to abuse, the egg, accidentally left in Zari's childhood home, hatches in young Zari's possession. The dragon makes young Zari popular, inspiring the Legends to open Heyworld, Hank's proposed park to botch Neron's plans of painting all magical creatures as monsters. After Neron's defeat, by teaching tolerance, the Legends avert the dystopian 2042, resulting in Zari being replaced by her previously deceased brother Behrad Tarazi with only Nate sensing that something has changed.
In June 2017, Tala Ashe joined the third season of Legends of Tomorrow as Zari Tomaz, initially described as a "Muslim-American woman from the year 2030 [sic] who lives in a world of contradictions [...] Fear, prejudice and a lack of care for the planet have forced Zari to become a "gray hat hacktivist." She lives a double life and doesn't realize that she has secret, latent powers derived from an ancient, mystical source." The character was loosely inspired by two characters using the moniker Isis: Andrea Thomas from the TV series The Secrets of Isis, and the DC Comics character Adrianna Tomaz, a reworking of Thomas. Zari was created by Phil Klemmer and Marc Guggenheim, who said it was "very important to me that certain elements from [The Secrets of Isis] were reflected." The character is a Muslim American, and Guggenheim explained that part of the motivation for adding her to the series was the "political climate" in the United States after the 2016 elections. He added that another reason was his sister-in-law, a Muslim, once telling him about "how difficult it is to be a Muslim-American in the current political climate."
The producers decided not to give Zari the moniker Isis because of the sound-alike militant organization ISIS; instead, the character goes by the nickname Z, and a Halloween costume she wears in the episode "Phone Home" was inspired by the superhero costume worn by Thomas in The Secrets of Isis. Her actual superhero costume, introduced during the "Crisis on Earth-X" crossover event, has a yellow and gold color scheme. Zari served as the central character of the episode "Here I Go Again". Ashe described Zari's initial relationship with Gideon as antagonistic because "Zari has messed with her operating system before, as a hacker", adding that she respects Sara as the Waveriders captain, and has a "a very sweet friendship" with Amaya, despite both of them having "lived a hundred years apart." The season four episode "Séance and Sensibility" explores Zari's romantic side, with Ashe explaining, "Given her tumultuous past and that she was always essentially fighting for the life of her and her family, love was on the back-burner. So we're going to see her start to grapple with that in a very big way." Like "Here I Go Again", it was also written as a Zari-centric episode, with Klemmer saying this was done because "she's such a tough nut to crack [...] She's not like [a] Jane Austen heroine, but she is like kind of defined by just how closely she guards her feelings."
The fifth season of Legends of Tomorrow explores a different version of Zari due to the dystopian 2042 being averted at the end of the fourth season; Klemmer said the season would explore what Zari would look like if she "lived a more charmed life" and did not come from a "dystopian, authoritarian future". Gracelyn Awad Rinke portrays a younger Zari.
Reviewing the episode "Zari" in which the character is introduced, IGNs Jesse Schedeen described Zari as a "pretty generic hacker anti-hero who just happens to have possession of a mystical amulet." He added that "Nothing about her personality or background makes her a particularly compelling addition to the team" and Ashe did not exhibit "the screen presence necessary to stand out alongside the colorful cast of Legends. It's probably a good idea to throw a new wild card into this now-familiar team dynamic, but Zari needs to bring more to the table than she does here." However, The A.V. Clubs Oliver Sava reacted more positively, saying, "Tala Ashe is a charismatic actress that sells the emotional moments of this episode's script, and she has strong chemistry with the rest of the group. She's intense, but not overly so, and she recognizes that this series doesn't demand an overly dramatic performance."Den of Geek's Jim Dandy said "Here I Go Again" was a "delight at every second. The entire episode hinged on Tala Ashe's performance, and she nailed it. Schedeen said that while the episode was not a high point for the third season, it was "nonetheless a solid bottle episode that provided some much-needed growth for the team's most recent recruit, Zari."