As the CW winds down with several of its current shows not being renewed for another season, Superman & Lois continues to chug along, wrapping up its second season a few weeks ago. I’ve enjoyed this show overall and have wanted to write a review of it for quite some time, and it seems I’m not the only one as every review I see about the show online is positive.
How did season 2 compare to a strong season 1? Let’s start with the positives:
It boggles the mind how the CW can churn out show after show of a new DC property and effortlessly make a faithful adaptation of the characters. I haven’t been a huge fan of a lot of the CW shows overall, as it seems they target a predominantly Gen Z audience (I’m a millennial, and can’t believe that makes me old now), and take more liberties with the properties than I’d care to, but all in all they really do nail a lot of the characters. Superman, Lois, and all of the supporting cast seem so in character, and I really feel like what I’m seeing on TV is what I read in the books. It’s not perfect, but after a decade plus of adapting these shows, overall it feels like they’ve done a really nice job. One wonders why it’s so hard to get it right with the movies!
By far, the strength of this show has been, and continues to be, Superman and Lois themselves. Tyler Hoechlin and Bitsie Tulloch seem like they have a firm grasp of their characters and really get what makes them tick, and they are written well. Hoechlin’s portrayal of both Clark and Superman are up there with some of the best all time, for my money, and Tulloch’s Lois is as good as any who have come before. In addition, they have great chemistry with each other, and really sell me on being a married couple. I’ve always said that allowing these characters to progress in their lives makes for some compelling stories, and good actors elevate a story even more. The family dynamic is one that has never been seen before, and definitely something that comic book fans and general audiences could enjoy.
The boys and the rest of the supporting cast are good as well, including Sam Lane, the Langs and all the bad guys (more on them later). How Clark and Lois interact with all of them adds more layers to their characters, especially when it comes to their children. Although made just for the TV show, Jonathan and Jordan do seem like kids that would have the Kents as their parents. Even when struggling with teen stuff (more on THAT later, too), they seem to have a good balance of strength, character, integrity and vulnerability. The scrapes they get into also allow Clark and Lois opportunities to shine as parents, and the way they handle their challenges also seem very much in character. The interactions of the Kents as a family is undoubtedly another strength of the series as well.
Other strengths for me include the cinematography, which as I’ve mentioned before does seem like a more big budget streaming show than network television, the nods to the comics (Bizarro’s family!), and most importantly, the amount of heart, so important for any Superman story. The Bizarro world plot lines, featured a bit in Peter Tomasi’s Superman Rebirth run, was a lot of fun to see in this show (even if they had to make it a tad less comic book-y), and were the latest in a string of pretty good villains for the series.
This much alone makes the show worth watching, and as long as they keep this basic formula, I will watch the show for the long haul, no question. It’s very refreshing to get a loving adaptation of Superman, even if it’s only the small screen. With that being said, was this show perfect in its second season?
I felt this season was weaker than the first for a number of reasons. First and foremost is the level of teen drama, which felt like season 1 on steroids. I understand that each year the stakes need to be raised to keep the characters on their toes and keep the audience interested, but this was a little too much for my taste.
Three teenage characters- the Kent boys and Sarah Cushing- in season 1 provided for plenty of CW-esque teen drama already, but introducing an extremely emo Natasha Irons along with even more of the previous three was just over the top for too many episodes. I’m baffled as to why she was even introduced, and the decision to make John Henry her father and a dead Lois Lane from another Earth her mother. Did the writers feel their wasn’t enough whining and looking depressed already? Quite frankly, a stretch of later episodes where she is not present allowed the show to breath a lot more freely.
Which leads me to the next huge weakness- the Irons family, in general. I’ve loved Steel in the comics since he first premiered, but am not crazy about him on this show, where he seems to be a combination of Tony Stark and James Rhodes from the MCU. As much as the character might seem to be DC’s version of Iron Man, that is not exactly who he is. For one, I would have liked to have seen a taller, more physically imposing actor, and to pronounce his strength of heart in the stories even more. As for Natasha, I haven’t read a whole lot of her in the comics, but I can tell you I much prefer her as Steel’s niece than an I’m-mad-at-my-father-all-the-time fifteen-year old. I get that John Henry was meant to be a part of the red herring villain reveal this show loves to do, which is effective, but too much of this iteration of the character is tied up in stories about reconciling with his daughter, and it started to get a little old as the season went on.
The Langs’ arcplot was less than thrilling for me this season, as well. I love the decision to not portray Lana as a loser on this show, but the heavy drama of her family falling apart was a bit much, I thought. I like the scenes where Kyle is portrayed as a good dad to Sarah, supporting her by coming to her performances and giving her relationship advice. Perhaps having his relationship with his wife and daughter breaking up over the course of two seasons, rather than both imploding at the same time, might have been better. Then again, maybe it’s because of all the added teen drama that my threshold was just much lower.
There were a couple of smaller things that I could talk about, but I’ll conclude by saying I wasn’t hugely thrilled with Ally Allston as the main villain for the season. She’s not in the comics and I never got far enough into Supergirl to know who the character was, so maybe I’m just behind, but she just seemed a bit boring and non-threatening, at least for a Superman baddie. To be fair, villains for Superman are always tricky, as they have to be seen as powerful enough to go against him without being universe-ending every time, which is a tough balance. I would have preferred Bizarro and his family to have been more of the threat center stage, but I guess I’m too much of a purist.
Even though I preferred season 1 to season 2 overall, I did enjoy this season of the show and hope it goes for many more. The positives definitely outweigh the negatives, especially when considering the chemistry between Superman, Lois, and their family. Jack Kirby once said that if you make a reader love the characters, they will follow them anywhere, and I definitely feel that’s the case here. This alone would be able to carry the show for many years, and I’ll be here for it.
If they tone down the teen/family drama just a bit, I think the show would be stronger, but even if they don’t, it’s still a good show about Superman, and one of the best ever for the character.
Now, all we need is some Krypton cameos and we’ll be all set!
Capeage Meter: 7 out of 10