Superman has been the subject of multiple iterations since his inception in 1936. From the groundbreaking Richard Donner-directed Superman starring Christopher Reeve all the way to Tom Welling’s teenage Superman of 2001’s Smallville, every generation has their version of the superhero. And now, we have Superman and Lois, the latest effort to adapt the Big Blue Boy Scout for modern audiences. And man, what a job they’ve done so far!
But there have been multiple versions of Superman in the past, you might think. What exactly makes this Superman TV Show any different? And why should I keep watching? Alas, here, we attempt to answer these exact questions.
10) Superman & Lois is the Most Grounded Superman Show
Yes, Superman & Lois is a science fiction show so super-villains are still present and superpowers are on full display. However, the show ensures that it is not these aspects that receive full attention. Rather, the point of S&L is its characters. It’s essentially about the most important man in the world trying to raise a family while doing his job.
The fact that much of the drama emanates from Clark’s struggle to be a good father gives us a delightful twist on the usual Superman formula. Yeah, an alternate universe Lex Luthor is around to be the bad guy. But the main struggle is this; how can Clark Kent be a good dad and a good superhero at the same time? It’s the show’s raising of this question that makes the show compelling viewing.
9) There’s No Cheesy Superman
It’s no secret that Zack Snyder’s DCEU inspired the look of Superman & Lois. From the seemingly constant stream of grey clouds hanging over Smallville to the subdued colors of Superman’s suit, you can’t help but look back to Man of Steel. Yet, the show manages to maintain a balance between not being too dark while not being too cheesy.
This means that Superman indeed smiles (a revolutionary concept for our times) but he’s not rotating the Earth to turn back time or conjuring other random powers from the ether. He’s evidently an inspiration to the world even if there’s an evident limit to his powers compared to past incarnations. The show maintains this fine balance in the character, helping to retain its nature as one of the most grounded Superman TV shows of all time.
8) It’s Not Just Superman and Lois Fighting a “Freak of the Week”
Owing much to its family-centered nature, Superman & Lois does away with the formulaic ‘freak of the week’-type stories guilty of dominating previous Arrowverse shows. This, of course, doesn’t mean there aren’t worthy adversaries for Superman to fight – the alternate universe Lex Luthor and his power suit come to mind here. However, it means that the writers are focusing on the Kent family drama and the mystery behind Morgan Edge and his plans for Smallville. The decision to focus on family issues and mysteries concerning dodgy villains over the tiresome ‘freak of the week’-type format usually common in these shows is a good decision that lends the show some new life.
7) Tensions Between Superman and Sam Lane
The unfortunate downside of marriage? Well, you have to put up with the in-laws. Superman is no exception to this rule. But alas, having Sam Lane as your father-in-law (who knows your secret identity) is an even more complicated reality.
As Clark attempts to play family man, Sam is the stern reminder that he must also play Superman. He acts as Clark’s source of info on the baddies that run amok but also as his major buzz-kill. He is aware that Clark is Superman and that every amount of time CK spends with his family is time not being spent to save the world. As expected, his acknowledgment of this reality creates tension between him and the Kents. This creates a compelling additional layer of drama in the show, as we wonder whether Sam Lane will eventually turn on Superman.
6) Superman’s Super-Kids
Lois and Clark are raising two teenagers. As such, it’s only natural that Superman & Lois indulge in some adolescent angst – it’s still a CW drama, after all.
The potential for Jonathan and Jordan Kent to be annoying ingrates was unlimited. Thus, it’s a blessing that this isn’t the case – much the opposite, in fact. Rather, we can deeply relate to these kids’ troubles as Superman’s children.
Similar to problems explored in Smallville, the kids must attempt to live normal teenage lives while hiding their abilities and heritage. Additionally, they must put up with each other’s jealousies and insecurities. It makes for a compelling take on a Superman TV show.
5) The Mystery of Alternate Universe Lex Luthor
He’s known to the world as Superman’s arch-nemesis. However, in Superman & Lois, he may very well be the hero. The series takes no time in revealing that S&L‘s Lex isn’t the Arrowverse Lex of Supergirl fame. Rather, he comes from an alternate universe (DC love invoking alternate dimensions in their stories) where he bears far more differences than his appearance.
Superman & Lois hooks us by having us empathize with Lex. In his world, he’s the victim. And, in said world, he is actually close to someone who Superman loves. A lot is still unknown about Captain Luthor, played by Wolé Parks. But this adds a layer of mystery onto the superhero-family drama proceedings that give it an extra edge.
4) A Show for the Whole Family
As mentioned, Superman & Lois is as much about family as it is about superhero action. In the modern age, superhero TV writers realize that it’s the characters we care about. The superhero CGI fights are impressive, yes, but it’s ultimately the human drama that helps us relate to Superman and company.
Because the show is about Clark Kent and Lois Lane raising a family, it makes for great family viewing. No doubt many parents see themselves in the famous couple’s attempts to stabilize their family while attending to their other duties. And, in turn, kids can identify with the adolescent desire to fit in that Jordan and Jonathan Kent exude to a tee. And, yeah, there’s the regular dose of superhero action to boot. In other words, there’s something for everyone.
3) Different Feel From the Arrowverse
A common critique of Arrowverse shows is that they often feel similar. Perhaps this owes to the fact that most of them center on single adults fighting crime, often pining over a designated love interest. Regardless, if you’re the type of person bored by the formulaic manner of the Arrowverse, Superman & Lois is definitely worth checking out.
As already mentioned, the show’s decision to focus on the challenges of Superman and Lois being parents allows it to explore different subject matter than its predecessors. It’s a Superman TV show about the Man of Steel and Lois Lane settling down and raising kids while taking on the baddies. This differentiates it from the other Arrowverse’s shows trend to have single heroes have a will they-won’t they with their love interests while fighting a different evil each week.
2) Superman & Lois’s Cast Provide Solid Performances
When people first saw Tyler Hoechin as Superman, they had their doubts. Did he have the face for the role? Did he really embody the character? Well, if his Supergirl appearances didn’t convince you, Superman & Lois will.
Hoechin portrays all sides of Supes brilliantly. From Superman’s assertive heroism to Clark Kent’s John Byrne-esque laid-back persona, Hoechin competently plays different shades of the character. Much like Dean Cain’s portrayal from Lois & Clark, Hoechin gives his Clark a relatable everyman quality while being ‘adorkable’.
Even more surprising is how the kids’ actors turned out. Jordan Elsass and Alex Garfin portray Jonathan and Jordan Kent respectively but do so without being the stereotypically annoying kids we see in film and TV. Rather than portray their characters as whiny Supermen Jr., the young actors’ grounded performances help us empathize with their struggles to conform to ordinary teenage life in the light of their surreal situation.
1) Superman & Lois’s High Production Values
From the CGI to the camera-work, Superman & Lois seemingly boasts a larger budget than its Arrowverse predecessors. Considering both this and the show’s family-oriented message, it makes it hard to believe the show airs on The CW. And yet, that’s exactly the reality of the situation.
The quality of the show’s CGI is not too far off Zack Snyder’s DCEU films. As such, it manages to deliver action that is just as satisfying as the drama. Superman really does feel super, and a force to be reckoned with, whereas producers faced greater difficulty with this in Supergirl due to its somewhat lower budget. Similarly, the villains feel like a real match for our Boy in Blue. When you consider the often short fights of Smallville, it’s impressive to see how Superman TV shows have progressed in terms of delivering spectacle on par with their movie cousins.
If you’ve already seen Superman & Lois so far, what do you think of the series? Do you like or dislike it? Share your thoughts in the comments below.