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Superman and Lois

I’ve had some time to kind of process what I saw in Superman and Lois. I’ve also heard some other opinions on it, some I agree with, and some that I don’t. What was my reaction?

It’s Fine. That’s all. Just fine.

Look, I like Superman and I have been screaming at the CW for years that in addition to Supergirl, they really ought to make a Superman TV show. Superman for me, has always worked better on television. The thing is, a movie is about spectacle, and a TV show can be about character. The movies are about super, where is the TV show is about man. And superman is really a lot about character, far more so than spectacle. The powers are secondary. They’re just a mundane fact of his existence. what’s really interesting about him is the person, the character. It’s one of the reasons why Smallville worked as well as it did, despite never showing him in the costume.

Being on the CW always worries me. At least these days, they’ve traded a lot of their storytelling for social justice. Supergirl started out as an excellent series. I loved it from the pilot. The first season was amazing, but then they jumped networks… And in the process lost Calista Flockhart‘s character of cat Grant. It’s almost as if they immediately found themselves in an identity crisis and and with no clear vision as to where to go, they plug the holes with social justice. LGBTQ, anti-gun, orange man bad, etc, and little else. It ultimately sunk the show… at least for me it did. (Me and a lot of other people apparently as the ratings went into freefall). Recent offerings like Batwoman, Legends of Tomorrow and even Black Lightning haven’t fared much better; focusing more on identity politics and social justice then actual character development. That’s not to say that there’s no place for those things, but there is a tendency in modern entertainment to make it about only about those things, and lean on them instead of any sort of storytelling. There’s an audience out there for that, certainly. But it’s not a big one. Less than half a million people according to the ratings.

So when Superman and Lois was announced, I had my worries. The Flash is still fairly untainted by agenda, but it is running out of steam. Stargirl on the other hand, surprisingly great… An actual call back to those happy, excited feelings I had when Supergirl first burst on the scene. It’s enough to give me hope for Superman and Lois.
I’m glad to see that the CW didn’t drop the ball here… At least not right out of the gate. They pull off a trick I thought they had forgotten, they manage to make Lois a strong, well done female character, and do so without tearing down her male counterpart. She doesn’t have to be strong at the expense of the male characters, instead, she is their equal… And isn’t that really what we’re supposed to be going for? Elizabeth Tulloch is shockingly good in the role too. The more I see of her, the more I buy her as Lois Lane. I really enjoy her more and more.

Superman for his part, is well characterized. I’ve always enjoyed Tyler Hoechlin in the role, he’s every bit as good as Henry Cavill… And while I’m tempted to say it’s better than man of steel, it’s really not an apples to apples comparison. They’re different types of stories with different purposes. Superman retains his integrity, and really works as a father. That’s a dynamic I really was enjoying in the comics… in many ways, this feels like the ideal successor to Smallville – with Clark now finding himself in the same role that Jonathan Kent played, lo those many years ago. It works for this kind of a character and I have to give them props for trying to do something new. They’re exploring a different time of life for Superman and what we normally see, and that’s appropriate. They warned us ahead of time that they were going to do it, which I do appreciate. I’m not big on spoilers, but knowing that this wasn’t going to be Lois and Clark in the city went a long way towards adjusting my expectations. If I hadn’t known this is going to be the Superman family moving to Kansas, I might’ve been a little upset.

I like the new suit well enough. The fact that we see Superman’s had diffrent suits over the years actually makes me like it more and retroactively imprives my opinion of the one we’ve seen in his cameo appearances. I am amused at bits – at times they’re just lifting scenes STRAIGHT from Superman Returns and Man of Steel. I also really liked the (brief) recap (origin, story till now, ect), and thought the golden age costume and the video game (you’ll see what I mean when you watch it) were nice touches. Not sure I’m on board with the mopey teenager. Then again, Smallville had its share of angst and I DID like the interaction with the jr Kent brothers. Not sure why Lana Lang is being played by a low budget Jennifer Tilly. Seriously, though, if those nitpick are my only beef? We’re on some pretty solid ground here.

Here’s the thing, the CW has a great opportunity here. Superman shows are a license to print money. I’m not even kidding. Superman has a proven track record on television, it always works. At least, it always works as long as you stay true to the character. People love Superman for the same reason they love Captain America… It’s a pure character, with virtue and aspirational values. The moment you start deconstructing him it all falls apart. For all the dismissal of Superman as unrelatable, a big boy scout, too corny – there’s a real LONGING for that in entertainment – again, I point to the Captain America films, not to mention the beautiful blended family with a surprisingly strong father figure in Stargirl. Indeed, the family aspect works extraordinarily well in this context, and this has the potential to be something great.
 
I hope the CW is up to it. I’m optimistic as to where it goes from here.

 

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