Five years after making his debut as the Man of Steel, Tyler Hoechlin is finally receiving the Berlanti treatment with the latest addition to the Arrowverse.
Superman & Lois kicks off from where we last saw the eponymous duo following the catastrophic events of Crisis on Infinite Earths. Worlds literally collided when the multiverse came under threat but thanks to DC’s mightiest heroes, plans for mass genocide were foiled and the planet lives to see another invasion (or several). Hey, no one said the Arrowverse meant an easy life.
Flash-forward (no pun intended) through an expositional backstory of the pair’s love story to Clark (Hoechlin) and Lois (Elizabeth Tulloch) living in domestic bliss with their teen twins, Jordan (Alex Garfin) and Jonathan (Jordan Elsass). Or at least as blissful as it can get for a Kryptonian on earth. All is well until the Metropolis dream is suddenly swept from beneath their feet by arbitrary mogul, Morgan Edge (Adam Rayner).
The return to Smallville is a nostalgic one at that as Clark often reflects on his youth throughout the series. For what was once the neighbourly town of serenity is now a run-down economic nightmare on the brink of destruction. In the time Clark has been away, Smallville has lost its heart and with twisted irony, Clark’s return is at the cusp of his own personal tragedy. It’s a dark debut for Hoechlin’s first solo adventure but aptly balances the tone. This is Superman as he has never been seen before and the change is welcome.
At its core, this is a story grounded by family. Not only must Clark and Lois battle unearthly beings and uncover a mysterious stranger’s (Wolé Parks) agenda, they are tasked with navigating the woes of parenthood. For the Man of Steel, nothing appears impossible – except finding a common ground with his teenage sons it seems. Both boys represent the two sides of Kal-El; Jonathan is the classic all-American jock (the Superman complex) whereas Jordan is reserved, shy and struck with anxiety (the persona of Clark). Though, there is more than meets the eye with the twins.
Hoechlin and Tulloch share an indelible chemistry. The former has already proven himself a valuable addition to the Arrowverse with his debut in Supergirl as a guest star but never quite had the chance to layer down the character. His performance is warm and familiar; Hoechlin embodies optimism and is without a doubt one of the strongest portrayals of Superman to date. Tulloch graces the screen with an impressive, dignified interpretation of Lois Lane; she is full of charisma that floods naturally. The pair are thoroughly charming – individually and together.
Continuity with its siblings shows is extremely minimal – luckily they can rely on Crisis to justify most resets. There is really nothing to link the characters or the narrative with the Arrowverse, including mentions of Clark’s Kryptonian cousin, Kara (Melissa Benoist). The lack of references – bar an unexpected cameo – is peculiar but assist in establishing the series’ own foundation. One noticeable difference that makes Superman & Lois stand out is the visual elements, which are more cinematic than anything shown on the Arrowverse before and have certainly set the standard for the future of this television universe.
Superman & Lois goes above and beyond the conventional quality of previous adaptations; this isn’t a reimagining of Superman, instead, it is an energising exploration into the dynamic between the Kent family. If the first season is anything to go by, Hoechlin and Tulloch’s future in the Arrowverse looks like a promising, long-lasting fixture.
Superman & Lois will premiere in the UK on Saturday, December 4 at 5:40pm on BBC One with all 15 episodes available on BBC iPlayer