Stories Left to Tell

Tonight brought the premiere of Superman & Lois, the latest attempt at bringing the story of Superman to the small screen.  The character has been floating around on the CW for a few years now as a special guest.  Last season’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” story gave the network an in-road for telling a different kind of Superman story.  Ironically, it’s the kind of story that been told for the last few years in the comics.

One of the odd realities of American comics is that they’ve been around for 80 years and that “continuity” is something that has mattered.  Every few years, of course, a reboot comes along that tries to tighten things up, start things over.  That happened back in 1986 with DC Comics, and it set a trajectory that their characters would follow for about 25 years.  Readers watched Wally West become THE Flash.  We saw Hal Jordan replaced as Green Lantern and then saw him return to the role.  And we saw characters like Superman and Batman “grow up.”  For Clark Kent, that meant engagement and marriage.  And then came another reboot, one that sucked the sense of history and legacy out of the stories in hopes for something more modern and crisp.  It didn’t really work.  But in a “throw away” story tied to the “old continuity,” Clark and Lois had a kid: Jonathan.  And then, over the course of a year, the timeline got “reset” and the classic Lois and Clark (with Jonathan in tow) became the status quo.

All to say that tonight’s Superman & Lois premiere draws from the best parts of that dynamic while adding a wrinkle or two of its own.  And it mostly succeeds at what it tries to do.  The season will be short, I believe, with about a dozen episodes.  The villain is bland so far (but the name-drop at the end should be promising).  But it’s ultimately the human moments that make or break the episode.  Sure, some of the drama feels forced.  But there’s something about a farm house in Kansas that elicits real emotion.  And while “Dad, you’re wrong” is already a little worn thin, it can be put to good use if they can temper things.

Here’s the opening scene from tonight’s episode, which attempts to brings viewers up to speed on the story.  It’s actually kind of risky to tell this particular story.  It’s a step beyond the Superman we’re used to (and a far cry, I would argue, from the one we’ve seen on the silver screen lately).  It lives in the shadow of Smallville, of course, so we’ll see how well it can differentiate itself.

And here’s the “coming this seasons” preview for the next few weeks:

It’s nice, of course, just to have another CW super-hero show to watch.  And with The Flash coming back next week, it will feel a new television season indeed.

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