For the first time in a decade, a live action Superman show is once again on TV.
That is pretty awesome.
I’ve watched all of Tyler Hoechlin’s appearances on Supergirl and enjoyed them, and definitely enjoyed Crisis last year, which teased a new, upcoming storyline for the Man of Steel. When a new series was announced for 2020, fans unfortunately had to wait until this year due to COVID-19. Finally, the day has come, and we are underway!
Pros: In other posts, I’ve covered how I think Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch are good casting choices for Superman and Lois Lane, and play their parts well. Hoechlin exudes “nice guy,” both as Clark and in the red cape, a necessity for any actor playing Superman. Bitsie Tulloch portrays a confident, no nonsense girl while not feeling overbearing as she pulls off the role of mommy in this show as well. The groundwork was already set in previous shows, but we were off to a good start right away here. Jordan Elsass and Alexander Garfin, as Jonathan and Jordan Kent seem good as well for their roles, although admittedly it’s too early to analyze them too much. The rest of the supporting cast seems to work well with Hoechlin and Tulloch, and play their parts believably too. I love the Rebirth comics, and anything that has that as its starting point is going to interest me right away. Plus (and this is where it gets tricky), as far as the different Superman shows that we’ve seen over the years- adventure, rom-com, teenager, etc- having him as a parent is a fresh take for the casual or non-comic fan that works too.
Somebody needs to build some kind of a monument to Dan Jurgens one day for giving Superman a momentous addition to his mythos. AGAIN.
On top of cast and premise, it cannot be understated how much the widescreen and overall cinematography adds to this show. The sweeping vistas and scenic landscapes almost feel like something more out of a movie than a show on CW, giving a more epic quality that, for me, sorely lacks from the other Arrowverse series. This show has a look and feel that is intentionally different from what has been done in the past by WB, and that is a good thing. In various interviews I read leading up to the premiere, the creators said they knew they were competing against streaming services and movies, and needed to up their game. Geoff Johns, in the post show special says that they were deliberately making a new era to the Arrowverse, and I can’t tell you how much I enjoy that as a fan.
There’s lots more I could write about this, but I’ll just wrap this part by saying the setting and premise, coupled with the natural tension that comes from stories about balancing personal (and family!) life and being a superhero makes for some great fun and great adventure. I can see myself getting into this series for a long time, something I’ve really missed since the cancellation of Krypton.
Cons: As much as I really wanted to, I find that there’s not as much to nitpick about as I thought there would be here.
What complaints I did have were more general non-pluses about the Arrowverse-it’s done on a tv budget, which seems a bit jarring in our era of a dozen superhero movies a year and streaming shows galore, but it holds its own. The real trouble for me though, starts with the other characteristics of being on CW, mainly the placating of the teen audience, which didn’t grab me that much even when I was a teen. This is likely a huge reason for making Superman and Lois parents to two teenagers instead of one toddler or elementary kid. Inevitably, we get a few scenes- and probably plenty more in the future- that REALLY ratchet up the teen drama. It’s not the worst I’ve seen, but it still doesn’t have to be there, in my view.
Second, where are they going to draw villains from going forward, as Supergirl has already used them all? The mysterious man in the space suit in the first episode has my attention, but it still feels as though the show has been backed into a corner. Thankfully, this is one area where teen drama may serve a purpose- to provide conflict, or perhaps even a villain, where there wasn’t one before. Perhaps most importantly, I’m also not a fan of the costume so far. Hoechlin’s previous one wasn’t perfect, either, but the one used for this show so far just looks way too padded. I know there is precedent for that in the character’s live action history, most famously with George Reeves but even Brandon Routh and others, but there has to be a more believable way to do it here. Tyler’s head looks disproportionately tiny when he’s wearing the suit in action scenes. I imagine they’ll probably tweak some things mid-season or next season, as they usually do. I hope.
Conclusion: Overall, I must say that this show has distanced itself just enough from other CW shows, while still maintaining the clear love and expertise the show’s creators have for the source material. This was a strong opening to the show, and one that grabbed me right from the get go. Whenever a new Superman show comes around, it feels like you’re hanging out again with an old friend. And that’s a good thing.
Count me in for this season!