Superman And Lois Series Premiere Kicks Off Great Start To New Era Of Stories
Superman has a long history on television, from the 1950s George Reeves show to the Smallville series finale ten years ago this May. Now, with the Superman & Lois series premiere, Kal-El returns to the live-action medium where he works best. This new series, however, builds on that strong, Kryptonian foundation to tell a new kind of Superman story. It’s one that they’ve touched on in the most recent comics, but it’s an uncharted frontier in live action. Clark Kent, Tyler Hoechlin reprising his role from Supergirl, and Lois Lane, Elizabeth Tulloch reprising her role from the past two CW crossover events, are married with kids.
This change in their family status is one of the larger retcons from the 2019 CW crossover Crisis On Infinite Earths. Instead of being brand new parents to a single child, they had teenage boys. Of course, the show starts with a Superman origin, but one told in shorthand. It’s a story we’ve been familiar with for 80 years. In the space of 270 seconds, the storytellers gave us the highlights of this Superman’s career, his romance, and becoming a father. Thus, by the time we see Superman swooping in to save the day for the first time, we’re entering all new territory.
There are plenty of familiar things in this show. Hoechlin maintains a firm grasp on a Superman that sits in the sweet spot between Christopher Reeve and Henry Cavill. The smartest decision the show makes, however, is to downplay the super-stuff in favor of the family story. Superman’s power set always causes trouble for villains-of-the-week. The solution is that problem is let Superman be Superman, and focus instead on Clark, Lois, and the twins.
Some spoilers to follow.
The Superman & Lois Series Premiere Keeps Its Focus on the Family
Image via Warner Bros. Television
The entire first act of the series premiere focused far more on Superman than Lois. We see him handle a nuclear meltdown in an incredible sequence where Superman does everything right. The next hour or so of the double episode was all about Clark Kent and his home life. Of course, Lois is in on his big secret, but they’ve been able to keep it from their boys. Alex Garfin plays Jordan Kent, a quiet kid with a treated mental illness. Jordan Elsass plays Jonathan, a blond-haired, blue-eyed kid who looks like he belongs on a CW series.
Luckily, the secret doesn’t stay hidden for long. Clark comes clean to the kids, which leads to some disastrous consequences. Luckily, the tension within the family doesn’t come from obvious places. Sure, there is tension between the brothers. But they are more friends than enemies. Clark and Lois also seem to have a relatively uncomplicated relationship. (Though, I suspect this will change thanks to Emmanuelle Chriqui’s Lana Lang.) There is tension between them, obviously. Yet, the series premiere shows that Clark and Lois are full-on partners. She understands, probably more than anyone else, how much the world needs Superman.
So, when Ma Kent passes away, Clark and Lois ultimately decide to stay in Smallville. It will allow Jonathan and Jordan to grow up in the small-town safety Clark did. Yet, this isn’t Tom Welling’s Smallville.
Smallville, This Time With Tights and Flights
Image via screengrab
The CW’s first hit DC Comics series, Smallville, will celebrate the tenth anniversary of it’s finale in May. What that show did was take the Smallville scenes from Richard Donner’s Superman and stretch it out by ten years. The show famously ended without seeing Tom Welling in the full costume. It seems that Superman & Lois will go back to that well. A lot can happen, especially to kids, in a small Kansas town. Only now, we also get a fully-realized Superman. Of course, the distance this will put between Clark and his family when he is off saving the day is greater. My guess is that a consistent source of emotional tension will be the boys, especially Jordan. As the show says: The world needs Superman, but these kids need their dad.
I fully expect that both Jordan and Jonathan will eventually develop powers, and the Super-Family will go off saving the world together. But in these early episodes, at least, we’re going to get a very familiar story. Yet, instead of a Pa Kent who fears Clark using his powers, they will have a father encouraging them to use them right way. A good way to save a little budget on this show would be to keep the focus on the humdrum life in Smallville rather than super-heroics. With Superman’s skill set and years of experience, it makes sense that he’d dispatch most threats quickly. This way you can have your action scene and quiet, everyday (lacking VFX) scenes, too.
Of course, there’s going to be the typical superhero drama. We’re introduced in this episode to the “big bad,” Wolé Parks villain “the Stranger.” They also spent quite a lot of time talking up Morgan Edge, a 1980s sleazy businessman
What to Expect from Superman & Lois Beyond the Premiere
Image via Warner Bros. Television
The family story will take the forefront during this season. It should be very interesting since this is entirely new ground for Clark. We’ve not seen Superman have to be a father before. And a good story about family caring for each other and sacrificing to help their fellow humans is one we can use right now. Yet, this is still a Superman series, so I would expect that we’ll get to see quite a few colorful and interesting villains, both new and from this Superman’s “past.” Of course, the big question is about Parks’ character, revealed to be some version of Lex Luthor. Well, we don’t know if he’s Lex, but we do know he has attained the rank of “captain.”
Since the fallout from the Crisis On Infinite Earths Finale created this scenario, it’s a good choice to bring the DC Multiverse into it. The beauty of an infinite number of Earths is that there can be parallel versions of characters who look and sound like those we know. But there can also be completely different versions of that same character out there as well. This Luthor wants to take out Superman, blaming him for the destruction of his world. He’s also very militaristic, it seems. Perhaps he’s just the captain of his spaceship, but he might be part of some sort of military force. He dispatches Superman pretty easily, but to be fair he was having an off day. Lois will also be taking on Morgan Edge, uncovering his plans for both The Daily Planet and Smallville.
The real trick will be if Superman & Lois can maintain the balance from the premiere throughout the first season. Both the family story and the Superman-and-Lois-doing-their-jobs story have a lot of potential.
Superman & Lois airs Tuesdays on the CW, streaming on their app the next day.
What did you think of the Superman & Lois premiere? Give us your Luthor theories, reactions to the family dynamic, and hopes for future episodes in the comments below.
Featured image via Warner Bros. Television
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.