Silly, sensual and shameless, there was nothing quite like “Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” when it debuted on ABC 30 (30!) years ago.
A lot can be said about the campy, romantic comedy drama that aired for four seasons, giving DC one of its most lighthearted adaptations ever. Goofy? Plenty. Ridiculous villains? Weekly. But there’s an undeniable magic in “Lois and Clark’s” first two seasons anchored in the dynamic will-they-or-won’t-they magnetism of the show’s stars Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher. Despite dated effects and a Superman suit that was far from a Michael Wilkinson original, the pair’s it factor makes the show incredibly rewatchable in the age of streaming. (“Lois and Clark” is streaming on Max.)
Almost a decade before the dawn of Hollywood’s modern comic-book era, Cain and Hatcher set a standard for superhero power couples that has yet to be topped. Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst’s Spider-Man and Mary Jane? Nope. Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow’s Iron Man and Pepper Potts? Not even close. Chris Evans and Hayley Atwell’s Captain America and Agent Carter? On your left. Tom Holland and Zendaya’s Spider-Man 3.0? Cute. But no.
Cain and Hatcher’s Clark Kent and Lois Lane were so dreamy it didn’t matter that they weren’t officially a couple until the show was practically over. Just the thought of them falling for each other powered most of “Lois and Clark’s” core story.
Sometimes overlooked in the Superman canon, “Lois and Clark” captured parts of the character other adaptations miss. Far from melting away behind glasses, Cain’s Clark Kent stood out. He was allowed to be a stud with eyewear — a far cry from the legendary Christopher Reeve, who used slouching, a comb and oversized spectacles to cover up his Superman’s charisma and charm.
Cain’s character made Clark Kent dare to be more appealing than his alter ego, even reversing the hairstyle. His Clark sported flowing locks and the trademark S-curl. His Superman pulled out the hair gel,a slicked-back look that departed from the comics and films until it was used years later by Henry Cavill in his turn as the Man of Steel. “Lois and Clark’s” producers didn’t dull Cain’s Clark Kent down in favor of a super-dreamy Superman, creating an unlikely love triangle between Clark Kent, Superman and Hatcher’s Lois Lane.
Cain, perhaps more than anyone else who has ever played Superman, managed to capture that Clark Kent was the real man — not someone Superman pretended to be.
In the pilot episode of “Lois and Clark” when Cain (a former football player at Princeton who brought a muscular physique to his superherorole years before it was en vogue) answers the door shirtless, Hatcher’s line — “I thought you’d be naked … ready” — plays as a laughable and believable Freudian slip.(When she snoops through his cabinets and finds nothing but junk food, her awe turns to comedic disgust.)
Hatcher’s iconic role has a strong case for the greatest Lois Lane ever, right up there with the late Margot Kidder who starred alongside Reeve in the original 1978film. There’s a reason the name Lois is in the show title as well. Heck, her name is first. “Lois and Clark” was just as much her show as it was Cain’s, and Hatcher did a lot of the heavy lifting despite not playing a Kryptonian. Hatcher’s Lois Lane was definitive and influential. Her world bled into the pages of DC Comics, too: Shortly after Hatcher flipped her legendary ’90s bob cut on-screen, the hairstyle appeared on the comic book version of Lois Lane.
This Lois’s beauty drew the attentions of the two most powerful men in Metropolis, Superman and Lex Luthor (played devilishly deceitful by John Shea). Her wit kept them both in their place.
Hatcher’s superpower was her eyes. She looked at Cain’s Superman in sheer awe but squinted at his Clark Kent with an almost siblinglike annoyance, as they became newsroom rivals and eventual byline partners. She glowered at other women who noticed Clark was hot stuff. When Lois began to look at Clark Kent the same way she looked at Superman? Viewers had to start wiping down their television sets from the steam.
This Lois defied decades of comic-book convention that marked her as a fool regarding Clark’s dual identity. In a cliffhanger ending to season 2, Clark asks her to marry him. In the opening moments of season 3, she looks into his eyes, swipes away his glasses in the rain and says, “Who’s asking? Clark … or Superman?”The show did away with Lois’s shock, depicted in the comics only a few years earlier when Clark Kent revealed his alter ego in “Action Comics” No. 662.
Alas, “Lois and Clark” lost a little of its oomph when Clark’s secret identity came out of the bag. Call it a “Moonlighting” moment, if you will. The show began focusing more on Superman’s adventures. But the heart of “Lois and Clark” was always the love story that gave the show its first spark and a chemistry that has rarely if ever been matched in comic culture.
“Lois and Clark” dared to be super when it wasn’t chic. It laid the blueprint for how love and sex appeal have its place among capes and superpowers.
Metropolis hasn’t been the same since.
The DC Universe was rarely if ever as sexy as it was during Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher’s stay in Metropolis. Read More