(Photo by Katie Yu/The CW)
The CW’s latest superhero show, Superman & Lois, treads familiar ground on the network — not only is it the latest spinoff to come from the DC Comics Arrowverse, but it’s also the second show about the Man of Steel to find a place in the primetime lineup (Smallville, an origin story beginning with teenage Clark Kent’s high school years, ran from 2001 to 2011, first on The WB and then on The CW).
This time, Tyler Hoechlin dons the cape and tights as our titular superhero. Although he’s played the role since 2016 on Supergirl and other DC shows, he and Elizabeth Tulloch, who plays wife Lois Lane, introduced this version of their characters in the 2019-20 mega-Arrowverse crossover “Crisis on Infinite Earths” — only then, they were parents of newborn baby Jonathan.
Here, they’re parents to 14-year-old twin boys Jonathan and Jordan (played by Jordan Elsass and Alexander Garfin), and the show will focus on the titular duo as they adjust to life as working parents — Lois as a superstar journalist, and Clark as a journalist/you know who — as they move from bustling Metropolis back to small-town Smallville.
Hoechlin, Tulloch, and the rest of their castmates joined journalists for a virtual Television Critics Association winter press tour panel on Monday, where they teased what viewers can expect from their new series when it debuts February 23.
While Superman & Lois is technically a part of the CW’s Arrowverse world, the show has an entirely different tone than the rest of the network’s superhero fare. This one is more like a family drama in the vein of Everwood or Friday Night Lights, showrunner Todd Helbing said on the panel.
“Whenever you do any of these shows, you want to make them slightly different,” he said. “We just approached this as much as we could like a feature — from the aspect ratio to the cinematography everything — the look to the design of the house and farm. We’re competing with the shows on streamers and cable networks and we wanted do that and be able to offer the audience something of equal quality.”
(Photo by Dean Buscher/The CW)
Who is Superman without evil to vanquish? The big bad played by Wolé Parks is simply known as “The Stranger,” a “fresh and new and completely different” take on a character we might’ve seen on screen before, Helbing said.
Added Parks, “We’ve seen this character a lot before, but the difference between this one and the other ones is his backstory … he’s not just a bad guy for bad guy’s sake because we need a bad guy. There’s a reason why he’s doing these things. Every bad guy is the hero of his own story, and this guy has legitimate reasons, and I think people will hopefully empathize with … what he’s doing.”
Clark dabbles in journalism while also doing his other day job being Superman, but Lois is a titan in her industry who doesn’t stop searching for truth just because she’s living the small town life.
“A lot of what she’s writing about is what capitalism is doing to these small towns, Smallville in particular,” Tulloch said. “Superman is doing his stuff with his superpowers, and she’s fighting against these injustices with words.”
(Photo by Dean Buscher/The CW)
One of the reasons Lois and Clark move back to Smallville is because they realize that maybe they need to reprioritize their lives. Being parents to their sons is just as important as saving the world, after all.
“Kids do need boundaries, and they need structure,” said Tulloch, but they also need to be treated with respect. By moving the family, Lois and Clark are “putting the boys first and the family first. And I think one of the cool things about the way Tyler and I play Lois and Clark is that our relationship, too, is one of mutual respect and admiration, and I think we treat the boys the same way.”
Hoechlin said that his performance is a way to “to pay tribute to the moms and dads out there who give up so much for their kids.” The fact that he’s 33 and playing dad to teens? Don’t think too hard, it’s TV magic.
Speaking of those kids, they’re dealing with typical teenage stuff — being the new kids in town, dealing with emotions and hormones that they don’t know what to do with. But instead of being cliches, the boys are dealing with mental heath issues and other layered, complex subjects that some TV teens don’t get to tackle.
“I was so happy to see intelligence written into the characters,” Garfin said.
And while the brothers might sometimes be at odds, they also care for each other deeply.
“We get into fights, and we can hate each other sometimes, but it’s built on a very deep and wide foundation of love,” Garfin said.