Son of Krypton: Superman & Lois - S01 E01 - Pilot - Reviewed

images courtesy The CW

At the risk of alienating people right out of the gate, Superman has never been particularly interesting to me. Not that I have anything against the guy, but as a hero he always just seemed bland, without much at stake aside from Kryptonite and rescuing Lois Lane.

Okay. Now that it’s out of the way, I can also admit that I was wrong. I started doubting myself when Supergirl premiered in 2015 andmuch to my surprise and delight, I fell in love with that show and the character. (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Melissa Benoist as Kara Danvers aka Kara Zor-El aka Supergirl is nothing short of remarkable.)

In season two of Supergirl, Superman/Clark Kent made his first appearance and was played by Tyler Hoechlin. His performance hooked me, and I found myself being interested in the character for the first time in my life. Nothing against the previous iterations of the character and the actors who have played him, but there was something about Hoechlin that made the character work. He wasn’t playing Superman; he was Superman. 

"Yes. Lunch WAS great."

Happily, the producers of Supergirl and the other Arrowverseshows seemed to realize what they had with Hoechlin and have decided to take flight with Superman & Lois, a lovely, charming,and refreshing show that takes these characters in a welcome new direction. 

In an opening montage that highlights the best and worst moments for both Clark Kent and Lois Lane’s (Elizabeth Tullochstoried lives and romance, Clark brings the audience up to speed on everything that’s happened in their lives and how, in the present, the happy-ish couple still lives in Metropolis and are navigating the tricky waters of raising to teenage sons, Jonathan (Jordan Elsass) and Jordan (Alex Garfin). When tragedy strikes, the Kent family returns to Smallville and eventually decide that they’re meant to be there, for reasons I won’t spoil here. 

Like Supergirl, I was surprised by Superman & Lois because both shows hit me in a similar way, almost like love at first sight, if that’s not too cheesy of a comparison. Both shows take their respective characters seriously, but also aren’t afraid to wear their hearts on their sleeves. I got a bit nervous when the pilot started shifting its focus to Jonathan and Jordan, but their storylines worked remarkably well, too. In terms of father/son moments, Superman & Lois checks every box in just one episode. 

I’m so used to seeing Clark miss his adoptive father (he does appear briefly) that I was not prepared for Clark himself being an absent father to his own sons. I suppose it should seem obvious, given his day job, that he would miss a lot of important moments, but the way that series creators Greg Berlanti and Todd Helbing handle it in this first episode is quite moving. Going back to my initial underestimating of the Man of Steel, I always thought he’d be the perfect father because, well, he seemed perfect at everything. In other words, Berlanti and Helbing have given the character depth, or at the very least more depth, than I’m used to seeing. 

The same goes for all the characters in the series thus far, but it’s especially true for Lois. Like HoechlinTulloch’s version of Lois was introduced on Supergirl, and I instantly loved what she did with the character. The chemistry between Hoechlin and Tulloch is up there with the David Duchovny/Gillian Anderson dynamic as Mulder and Scully, respectively, but Tulloch brings a lot to the role. She’s someone you pay attention to right away, and she takes command of every scene she’s in without taking away from everyone else. Like Clark, there’s a humanity to Lois that I’m not used to seeing. I feel like previous versions have leaned a bit too heavily on her being a journalist that they forgot to add a human element.

It’s also refreshing to see a modern take on the state of the newspaper industry – Clark and Lois are reporters in the digital age, after all – and how modern ideals of a city paper clash with a rural town like Smallville. There’s a lot going on in the pilotmost of which is good, but I hope Berlanti and Helbing continue to handle the politics and ideological differences between the Kent family and the townsfolk of Smallville as well as they do in the premiere. There’s a message at the heart of both Superman the character and Superman & Lois: Even in these divided times, we still can care for and love one another, even if we disagree or don’t even like the other person. 

As I’ve come to learn, that’s what Superman is supposed to represent. He’s the best of us. As I write this, it’s clear to me that everyone involved with this show understands that what makes Superman work as a character is Clark Kent. In point of fact, most of the 90-minute pilot doesn’t include Superman, rather, it’s his Clark persona, front and center. He still dons the cape and has some fun moments, but the action isn’t the focus, rather, the characters and their individual plights make the pilot stand out above other shows like this. 

Welcome back, Superman. I’m along for the ride.

-Matt Giles