The series takes a grounded approach, prioritizing family drama over nonstop action, providing a refreshing take on Superman’s story.
Superman & Lois embraces DC’s weirder side, featuring diverse and original villains, while still maintaining a strong focus on the chemistry between Superman and Lois Lane.
Superman & Lois has been a well-received series, and in some ways, it’s been a more faithful adaptation of the characters than many DC films have been. Born out of the CW Arrowverse’s Crisis On Infinite Earths storyline, the series wound up creating its own separate canon to tell a more focused story, taking place outside of the Arrowverse’s Earth Prime. Though Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch return as the titular characters from the CW’s Supergirl, they aren’t the same exact characters, instead standing in as alternate versions of their previous roles.
While the DC movies have sometimes had a difficult time characterizing Superman, Superman & Lois has become one of the best Superman TV shows by managing to accomplish some critical storytelling beats to the duo and their universe that the movies have sometimes fallen short of. While a portion of this success can be attributed to being a TV series with the benefits of a longer time to spend on characterization and endearing an audience, it’s hard to ignore the choices deliberately taken to reach a new level of faithfulness in adapting DC’s most iconic couple.
10 Superman Isn’t A Savior Figure
One criticism of the DCEU’s showings of Superman is his status as a savior figure. Instead of being characterized by a literal, down-to-earth life story, films such as Man of Steel turn Superman into a Christ allegory. While this gives a lot of opportunities for interesting symbolism, it takes away some of the “relatable farm boy” elements that are so important to the character’s journey. It’s hard to relate to a hero that’s more of a symbol than a fleshed-out person.
Luckily, Superman & Lois has plenty of time to characterize Clark Kent as a husband and a father, as well as Superman. Rather than being an unattainable god, the Superman of the series is a kind and charismatic person with a strong moral code that is taken with him into his responsibilities as Superman. Superman is still undeniably powerful, but it’s underlaid by a very human person beneath it all.
9 Superman & Lois Is More Grounded
For a world as fantastic as the DC Universe, taking a more grounded approach might seem like a strange choice. The Arrowverse leaned into the wackier side of DC storytelling, making Superman & Lois‘ grounded family drama stick out even more. In the series two-hour premiere, Superman only appears in costume for a mere two scenes, with the majority of the pilot’s time spent mourning the death of Martha Kent and challenging Clark’s relationship with his sons.
This focus on family is the heart of the series, a welcome breath of fresh air compared to the nonstop action and world-ending crises of Superman’s various films. Getting to see more of the character out of action and learn more about his relationships is a privilege a Superman film has yet to provide as satisfyingly as Superman & Lois has. Unsurprisingly, it works well and makes the action scenes all the more impactful.
8 The Show Isn’t Afraid To Embrace DC’s Weirder Side
Despite its humble roots as a character-focused drama, Superman & Lois still isn’t afraid to embrace DC’s wilder side. From Bizarro being featured as a primary villain to the show’s many dips into alternate realities, the science fiction trappings of DC’s lore can still be seen on full display despite the grounded direction. The show succeeds as it doesn’t spend too much time retreading overused Superman villains.
While DC’s cinematic fare certainly doesn’t shy away from this, Superman’s stand-alone films tend to avoid the unrulier parts of DC canon. There’s never been a live-action film adaptation of Bizarro, and The Stranger’s arc from a villain to a friend has no real cinematic equivalent. Just because Superman & Lois is more grounded doesn’t mean it never strays into the bizarre.
7 Superman & Lois Has Explored More Diverse Villains
When it comes to antagonists, the Superman films tend to obsess over Lex Luthor. Obviously the most iconic of the Man of Steel’s rogues gallery, having film after film feature him as either the primary antagonist or the one behind characters like Superman IV: The Quest for Peace‘s Nuclear Man or Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice‘s Doomsday. Lex Luthor is an engaging villain and interesting foil, to be certain, but a healthy variety of villains goes far in keeping Superman stories from getting stale.
Lex Luthor is certainly present in Superman & Lois, but he’s only one small part of the picture within a diverse roster of villains. From The Stranger to Bizarro to Tal-Rho, the series manages to keep Superman on his toes by taking heavy liberties with characters from the comics and putting a new spin on them, creating original rivalries perhaps more engaging than the films.
6 Superman Cleans Up His Messes
A recurring criticism of many films featuring Superman, especially within the modern DCEU, is his propensity for collateral damage. The climax of 2013’s Man of Steel leaves Metropolis scarred with billions of dollars in damage. It’s hard to imagine Tyler Hoechlin’s Superman flying away in the face of so much damage after witnessing how he handles crises.
Not only does the Superman & Lois version of the character stick around after a fight to make sure everyone is ok, he even speaks multiple languages, ensuring that he’s able to help with the aftermath as best he can no matter where in the world he finds himself, only flying away after ensuring that everything is under control.
5 Superman & Lois Nails Its Titular Character’s Chemistry
Superman films have typically had a lot to cram within a two-hour runtime: From Superman’s origins to the development of his powers and code of ethics, and of course, a climactic fight or two, sometimes his romance with Lois Lane is something that can easily fall by the wayside. With the series focus on this aspect of the character being literally in the title, it’s no surprise that Superman & Lois has been able to capture its titular character’s chemistry better than ever before.
The relationship portrayed in the series is a breath of fresh air in its authenticity. Lois Lane isn’t just a damsel in distress who falls hopelessly in love with Superman because she’d been rescued, but she’s an independent, fully realized character with a quick wit and a head for crisis. Lois and Clark banter, tease, argue, suffer hardships, and binge TV shows together, making this adaptation of their relationship one of the most true to life out there.
4 Superman & Lois Get To Be Parents
Other than their fleshed-out relationship, what sets Superman & Lois apart from other Superman stories is their struggles as parents. No other live-action portrayal of the characters has ever had quite so much focus on this fascinating facet of Superman’s story. Despite the son of Superman being split into two twin boys, the outgoing Jonathan and the sensitive Jordan, the series manages the most heartfelt rendition of Superman and Lois’ adventures as parents.
One of the primary struggles of the titular couple is the raising of their twin boys. Along with the normal struggles of parenthood, Lois and Clark must also grapple with the manifestation of Kryptonian powers in their children. The fact that only one of the twins has thus far done so has been an engine for drama as Clark balances favoritism against teaching the awesome responsibility of his powers to a child, a subject the Superman films could only dream of doing justice to.
3 Superman Isn’t Overpowered
As a character, one of the biggest hurdles to overcome in writing a compelling Superman story is balancing his powers. With so much capability, it’s hard to find a balance between staying true to the character’s identity as the world’s most powerful hero and giving him something to struggle with. The format of a feature film only makes this harder, with so little time to devote to Superman losing, but Superman & Lois manage to strike an excellent middle ground.
From being beaten within an inch of his life by Doomsday in the Season 3 finale to losing his powers to Ally Allston’s power absorption, this adaptation of Superman has known defeat, keeping the stakes higher. Not only is he not invincible in a fight, but his emotional struggles with controlling his powers, setting a good example for his sons, and coming to terms with realistic struggles with his loved ones keep Superman emotionally vulnerable as well. The dramatic reveal of Lois Lane’s breast cancer diagnosis is a prime example of the vulnerability of Superman & Lois‘ titular characters.
2 Superman & Lois Is Able To Tell A More Focused Story Without A Wider Universe
In the finale of Season 2, Lois’ father and high-ranking General Sam Lane gives a speech describing Superman as Earth’s only superhero to Jon and Jordan. This confirms seeds that were planted earlier with the depiction of Clark’s proposal to Lois being different from the CW’s earlier portrayal of the scene, firmly establishing Superman & Lois as taking place within a self-contained universe. In this world, Superman stands largely alone.
This distinction as a separate continuity plays to the strengths of the show, letting the focus stay on Superman, Lois, and the Kent twins without a grander universe of characters getting in the way to steal the spotlight. While films have varied in how many other DC heroes are implied to inhabit the same world as Superman, the emphasis on Superman being the world’s core heroic force keeps him invested in threats. This helps maintain the tension of world-enders like Ally Allston and Doomsday, Superman not being able to rely on last-minute backup to take over the show.
1 The Character’s Relationships Matter More
Superman & Lois is well established for having such a touching and faithful version of Lois Lane and Clark Kent’s relationship on the screen, but the focus on interpersonal relationships of the show doesn’t stop there. The couple’s relationship with their sons, John Henry Irons and his daughter Natalie, and more contentious relationships like Sam Lane keeps the show focused on characters, not events. It’s here that Superman has always been at his best in DC movies, shows, and comics.
The depth provided by the character’s relationships to one another being the primary thesis of the series rather than the climactic events Superman must endure makes it much easier to get invested. Compared to the relatively stagnant arcs of the relationships of Superman across the films, be it falling for Lois or punching Batman for a bit until they’re buddies, Superman films can’t hold a candle to Superman & Lois as a character study. While the time for development allotted by being a series vs a 2-3 hour movie helps, it’s a lesson the character’s big-screen adventures can and should learn from.
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