I always maintain you can’t have a great Superman without a good Clark Kent. It’s why the Christopher Reeve movies succeeded and the Henry Cavill ones didn’t. That’s not Cavill’s fault. The Christopher Nolan/David Goyer story all but wrote Clark out of the script to focus on a more brooding and uncertain Superman—an error on both points.
So I was not excited to see The CW was coming out with a new show called “Superman and Lois”. Superman and Lois? Great. Here we go again.
I could not, and let me repeat myself for emphases here, COULD NOT have been more wrong. This premiere was fan*uckingtastic.<p value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">For starters, it didn’t dwell on the origin story. Kansas via Krypton. <a href="https://thewanderinglostie.com/2013/06/16/superman-man-of-steel-review/" data-type="URL" data-id="https://thewanderinglostie.com/2013/06/16/superman-man-of-steel-review/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">We know</a>. I was thrilled to see them treat it with a quick voiceover before moving on to the hero’s entry as he saved a nuclear plant from sure disaster. But even that wasn’t a warmed-over version of it’s a bird it’s a plane it’s Superman. They chose to make it functional by establishing that Superman and his father-in-law have their own professional relationship and he’s in on the secret identity and the emergency at the nuclear plant was plot hatched by an unknown enemy. Bing bang boom this premier is firing on all cylinders. Let’s get back to Clark.For starters, it didn’t dwell on the origin story. Kansas via Krypton. We know. I was thrilled to see them treat it with a quick voiceover before moving on to the hero’s entry as he saved a nuclear plant from sure disaster. But even that wasn’t a warmed-over version of it’s a bird it’s a plane it’s Superman. They chose to make it functional by establishing that Superman and his father-in-law have their own professional relationship and he’s in on the secret identity and the emergency at the nuclear plant was plot hatched by an unknown enemy. Bing bang boom this premier is firing on all cylinders. Let’s get back to Clark.
Reeve’s Kent, and Brandon Routh’s to an extent, was hesitant and awkward because he’s a small-town Kansas boy with a fast-paced job in the big city. S&L gives Tyler Hoechlin’s Clark a different set of challenges: Parenting, a dual relationship with his father-in-law (hell, a father-in-law to begin with) and saving the family farm. Plus the usual bit about saving the world.
That’s a significant departure from the norm for fans who aren’t plugged into DC’s television universe. But I love it because it ensures this version of Clark Kent will remain a key character throughout the series. The premiere gives us a heavy dose of Clark having to choose between his role as a parent to his twin boys and his responsibility to be the world’s Superman. More importantly, we see him work through those choices as Clark. Love it.
When he chooses his family—which the premiere hints hasn’t happened often—he’ll disappoint the world. When he chooses his family he may literally be leaving people to die. That’s an impossible choice and gives the show plenty of ways to use it for exploring its characters.
The premiere laid the groundwork for three other storylines to expect in season one:
Jon and Jordan’s experience. The show deftly lays out Lois and Clark’s twin sons having completely different personalities. Jon is a budding jock about to quarterback his high school football team as a freshman; Jordan struggles with social anxiety. And then the boys find out their dad is Superman. At first I thought they butchered the reveal scene because Clark handled it very poorly, but then I thought about it from the opposite angle: What if Superman had to reveal to the boys that he was their father? He would no doubt handle it well and they’d be awed. But Clark was not prepared to tell his kids the secret and ended up doing it with no consideration for how they might react. But it’s not like he didn’t try. We saw multiple scenes with him convincing Lois they should never tell them in case one developed powers and the other one didn’t. That was the only way Clark could see it unfold, which blinded him to everything else. The kids started to come around later in the episode but it’s a great example of how the series will give us Clark-centric arcs. A+
Superman’s enemy. We don’t get much in this episode, and I’m okay with that. They lay the groundwork for a character who hates him the way great enemies do. The premiere seemed to heavy up in other places so I wouldn’t be surprised if we get a very enemy-centric episode coming up soon.
What happens in Kansas. I haven’t talked much about Lois so far because she is mostly along for the ride in episode one. That’s kind of disappointing, but they crammed so much introduction into 64 minutes that something had to give. We do however have an emerging storyline with a stereotypical greedy capitalist buying out The Daily Planet and the Smallville bank, which will give Lois something to dig her teeth into. Like the main enemy, I expect we’ll soon see an episode with Lois taking a more active role.
This is all such a wonderful change from the dark and dour tone set by the recent Superman movies (Man of Steel, Batman vs Superman). But wait, doesn’t that mean S&L will run into the same “dark Superman” problem? No, because this show isn’t sidelining Clark Kent and has better surrounding characters. Every character in S&L is immediately more relatable than anyone in those silver screen mistakes except Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent but he’s Kevin Coster and so dreamy even as he gets older. How does he do that?
Maybe it’s unfair to compare the way Superman is adapted across mediums. I’m going to though. Big screen or small, deep characters driving engaging stories is the way to people’s hearts. That’s exactly what we have with Superman and Lois.