Superman is moving to Smallville and he will have a new costume! Those were the big takeaways from the Superman & Lois panel at week-two of DC FanDome on Saturday, as well as moderator and DC Chief Creative Officer/Publisher Jim Lee teaching everyone on the panel and watching at home how to draw the perfect Superman symbol. Joining Lee on the virtual panel for the upcoming CW series were executive producer Todd Helbing, and actors Tyler Hoechlin (Clark Kent/Superman) and Elizabeth Tulloch (Lois Lane).
Lee began the panel by asking Helbing to discuss how Superman & Lois will be different from Superman shows of the past. “The main way that we are going to make this different is that Clark and Lois are married in this version. They are not only married, but they have two teenage boys,” Helbing explained. “As a father who happens to have two boys, that really felt like a great way to bring in some personal experience, just to keep it as grounded as it can be for a Superman show. As a couple, we really get to lean into Clark and Lois, not being Superman and the most famous journalist in the world, but as parents. What is it like when you have jobs like that? I think a lot of working parents can relate to that and all the complexities that come with having jobs like that. With two boys, we wanted to present two brothers that have completely different skill sets, and how you deal with that as parents.”
Fans of the recent crossover event, Crisis of Infinite Earths, will remember that Clark and Lois only had one infant when it began, but thanks to events in the crossover, had two teenage boys by the end. Helbing talked about how the conclusion of Crisis helped them set up the new series. “We took Crisis as an opportunity to age up the boys and change things for them as parents,” he said. “We created two boys, fraternal twins, and made them teenagers, which is where things really get complicated for parents. So, I think Crisis, in general, gave us an opportunity to start with a blank slate and tell the story the way we couldn’t otherwise.” Lee also asked Helbing to discuss why they decided to set the series in Smallville instead of Metropolis. “I’m not going to give a reason for that just yet,” he answered. “But obviously the story of Superman has taken place in Metropolis for a very long time. We wanted to tell a story where you have the parents, after this tragic event happens, move back to Smallville and find that it is easier to raise kids in a place where life isn’t so hectic as it is in Metropolis.”
“It’s also fun that when they go back Lana Lang will be there,” continued Helbing. “Lana was Clark’s first love, and I think it’s an interesting dynamic as an adult, how you deal with that relationship? We don’t want Clark Kent ever having an affair on Lois, that is never going to happen. But that dynamic as an adult is really interesting to us. Those feelings are impossible to ignore, and I think that is a real thing for some people, especially when kids are involved. And then to see her husband and kids, and that dynamic. There are a couple of characters that we invented, Kyle Cushing, her husband, and Sara Cushing, who gets wrapped up with the boys and then they have their own love triangle. Then a character that I think is very interesting is General Lane, Lois’ father, and his relationship with Clark and Lois. He sees Superman-like his solider, and his relationship with Lois is fraught because of the way he handled his job when he was raising her.”
Elizabeth Tulloch talked about the challenges Lois Lane will face raising teenage boys while being the world’s most famous journalist. “I think that is one of the things about Lois, she doesn’t really compromise herself or her goals,” Tulloch explained. “So, I think one thing that she bumps up against is being really dedicated to her career and her job. She is doing this for good, and she believes in what she is doing. Lois wants to change the world with words, and Superman does it with his power, but how much is that alienating our kids? And how good can you really be at your job if you have two teenage boys who both have distinct needs? So, I think for me that is what was compelling, and I was really excited when I heard it would be older kids. I’ve read two scripts now and it is complicated, and they are going through a lot. So, I find the storyline with the sons really compelling.”
While Tulloch mentioned that she has not seen any of the previous Superman TV shows, she is a big fan of the Christopher Reeve films and drew inspiration from Margot Kidder’s performance as Lois Lane. “I think one of the things that I always found memorable is that she didn’t know who he was, but on some level, did she? There is a thing about the way Margot Kidder played it,” Tulloch explained. “She just gets him, which is why there are such a great couple. I remember moments where she was looking at him and I was like, wait, does she know? Or does she just understand something about him, who he is, and what he represents? I think why Lois is the perfect woman for Clark is because she gets why Superman is so important for the world. She is happy to make the sacrifice as a result.”
Tyler Hoechlin has been playing Superman on the various CW series since the season two premiere of Supergirl, and the actor discussed the pressure that comes with playing the iconic role. “I think there is a heightened awareness,” he explained. “There is a moment that always stands out when we were on the set and there were fans around who wanted to meet us. Just to be in the suit, and have a parent bring their five or six-year-old over to ask if they could meet Superman, that is where you do realize that to the kids, you are just Superman. You are wearing the suit and that is all they know. That is what changes the most, just that awareness when you are around kids. What I love about this character is what he stands for really just grabs on to an impressionable audience, these kids that look at him like a hero and everything he stands for. It is something that gets me excited about playing this character.”
“For me, anyone can be Superman,” continued Hoechlin. “I think what makes Superman so important in my eyes is that he is someone that without fail chooses to do the right thing and all the good that they can do. That’s really all it is, whether that is saving one person from getting hit in the street, or saving people from a falling skyscraper, it’s the quality of the effort and the work, not the quantity.” Hoechlin also described putting on the Superman suit for the first time as “the most surreal moment” of his career, while Tulloch recalled seeing him reveal the iconic “S” from underneath his flannel shirt for the first time during the Elseworlds crossover and letting out an audible gasp along with Flash star Grant Gustin.
Finally, Lee asked Helbing if fans can expect to see Superman wearing a new costume on Superman & Lois. “Originally, Tyler came on for the crossovers, and that suit just wasn’t built to sustain a series, so since we have this fresh slate, we thought, let’s make a new suit. So, there is going to be a really bad-ass new Superman suit on this show that I’m pretty excited about,” the executive producer confirmed.