Superman & Lois Overview: A Smallville return and provocative adversary do that Arrowverse hero good
True Story: Despite being a Smallville superfan, I haven’t had any interest in Superman & Lois since the day it was announced. For one, it overlaps with Supergirl’s own run on The CW (which we now know is ending), and TV’s Girl of Steel has already done it and generously borrowed from her cousin’s comic book history. Also, this rerun of Clark and Lois is with teenagers.
Well, here is today’s headline from the Smallville Gazette: Superman & Lois Works. And it is often wonderful.
After the events of the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” of the Arrowverse, whose ripple effects (among other things) doubled the number of Clark and Lois’ sons and made them appear to be a few years old, take some time to complete – Superman & Lois stars Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch repeat their roles from Supergirl. The oversized pilot, which premieres on Tuesday, February 23, as part of a two hour event, kicks off with an extremely efficient and highly engaging montage narrated by Clark that sums up his arrival on earth as a child and several of the usual beats (including) he meets stupidly on Lois) and brings us to where we are today.
Clark and Lois are coworkers at the Daily Planet when the series opens, while twin sons Jonathan (Jordan Elsass of Little Fires Everywhere) and Jordan (Alexander Garfin) are each a confident high school QB and loner with a social anxiety disorder was diagnosed. The family life in Metropolis seems to be good enough, although Dad is “away” a lot to work, and even when he’s at home, Jordan is more likely to withdraw to his video games (where he fights Superman. #SuperAwkward) .
A series of unfortunate events shook the existence of the Kents and sets the stage for a trip to Smallville, where Clark and former girlfriend Lana Lang Cushing (Emmanuelle Chriqui of Entourage) and the two brothers and Lana’s eldest daughter Sarah (13) are reunited actually Navarrette? Erik Valdez (Graceland) plays Lana’s fire chief Kyle, who hits the right note of a cautious threat between shadowing Clark’s “abandonment” of his hometown and defending tycoon Morgan Edge (Tyrants Adam Rayner) from rat-smelling reporter Lois.
The Smallville visit also paves the way for a crisis that leaves Clark with no choice but to finally reveal his superhero identity to his sons – leading to a series of reactions that really put the series in a completely different gear and the brothers up direct different paths.
The cast is rounded off by Dylan Walsh (Nip / Tuck) as Lois’ father, General Sam Lane (here conceived more as a less militaristic than as a duly worried father, whose super son-in-law is on speed dial). while Wolé Parks (All American, Vampire Diaries) plays a menacing stranger who enters Superman’s orbit. More about him shortly.
As directed by Lee Toland Krieger, the 90-minute pilot is as cinematic as you’ve heard, and a lot more. It has nothing of the smooth veneer of, for example, The Flash or Supergirl, and it is certainly not grainy like Arrow. Instead, the earthy feel and tone (showrunner Todd Helbing wrote the script based on a story by himself and EP Greg Berlanti) can best be compared to Berlanti’s own Everwood and … the parts of Man of Steel that weren’t busy Level buildings and endanger thousands of innocent people. That said, the visual effects here are really nifty (including an Episode 2 sequence in which Supes soars through a series of concrete walls).
How did Superman & Lois convince me, despite my determination to be apathetic? For one thing, we’ve never seen this live-action story of Clark and Lois as struggling parents. And because of this, no one realized that Clark could be a crappy dad who regularly misses family events and cares about the (supernatural?) Athletic son. These sensitive topics and the way the first few episodes flow into them are different and interesting.
Second, the youth cast is pretty good – more perfect picks from Arrowverse Casting Whiz David Rapaport. As Jonathan, Alsace recalls a warmer version of This Is Us’ teenager Kevin; Navarrette wins as Sarah dealing with problems / medication similar to Jordan’s. and Garfin brings just enough light to cloud Jordan that we prepare for the boy’s turning point. Among the new adults, Rayner (an English actor) gives Edge a slightly cheeky international twist, while Sofia Hasmik (the revival of Mad About You) as Smallville journalist / Lois Lane superfan gives Chrissy Beppo a nice dash of comic book relief.
Of course, the best Superman stories have a compelling villain. I like that, based at least on the first two episodes made available to the press, we don’t seem to be on our way to being throwaway meteor freaks of the week. Instead, Parks’ character – and everything he represents, as gorgeously revealed in Episode 2 – promises a lot of history and stories that could go in directions you didn’t expect.
And on a superficial level, the design and “sculpture” of Hoechlin’s Supersuit is a huge improvement over anything he’s played before, and the camera is far more in the style of Supes’ latest big-screen incarnation.
THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE: Superman & Lois fly into brand new territory with the Arrowverse – and we are on our way.