The television series, “Superman and Lois” recently debuted to strong reviews on the CW Network. If early returns are an indicator, audiences will be treated to a thoughtful program.
Iconic characters often grapple with relevance and Superman is no exception. Since debuting in 1938, the hero has been portrayed by numerous actors in a variety of mediums. Most recently, Henry Cavill has donned the red cape and blue tights on the big screen.
But “Superman and Lois” differs from previous depictions by taking a more grounded approach. Instead of fixating on action, the narrative is driven by emotion. With a contemporary focus on reality, the series is primed to explore the downside of heroism.
Imagine being Superman: He is the most powerful figure on Earth and humanity’s greatest ally. But what happens when he goes home? Can he relax? Is he happy? Well, it is complicated. In order to protect his loved ones, Superman conceals his true identity and assumes the persona of a news reporter named Clark Kent. But the stress of living a double-life cannot be satisfying. And only now are screenwriters fully exploring this dynamic.
For Superman, the stakes have never been higher. Not only is he married, he is the father of two teenage sons. Furthermore, he has left the city of Metropolis behind and returned to his hometown of Smallville. The rural setting conveys an idyllic albeit ambiguous sense of solitude.
Actor Tyler Hoechlin portrays the Man of Steel in the most relatable of ways. It is not easy to identify with someone who is faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive. Yet Hoechlin’s depiction of Superman’s struggle with parenthood adds a layer of vulnerability rarely seen in the character.
Admittedly, a similar concept aired in the 1990s. The lighthearted series “Lois and Clark” focused on the relationship between Superman and his wife. However, children were never a part of the story and the show was presented as more of a romantic-comedy than serious character study.
Whether comic fans embrace Superman’s adventures in fatherhood remains to be seen, although the future looks bright. On March 2, Yahoo Entertainment reported that “Superman and Lois” had already been renewed for a second season.
Regardless of the show’s success, the decision to humanize Superman is wise. In an era in which image is everything, a study in humility is timely. After all, acknowledging Superman’s problems doesn’t make him weak. It makes him relevant.