Super Friends and Family
Arrowverse 2021 Season: Week 20
There wasn't a lot going on with the ArrowverseWhen it was announced that the CW was creating a show based on the Green Arrow, people laughed. The CW? Really? Was it going to be teen-oriented like everything else on the network and be called "Arrow High"? And yet that one show, Arrow has spawned three spin-offs, various related shows and given DC a successful shared universe, the Arrowverse on TV and streaming. this last week. Just about everything as off the air except for Superman & Lois... and that includes Asteroid G as we took the opportunity to take a week off and enjoy a nice vacation. But we did have an episode to review, so before we handle all of this week's contents later in the week, let's go back and look at Big Blue and see what he was up to.
Come on, SupermanThe first big superhero from DC Comics, Superman has survived any number of pretenders to the throne, besting not only other comic titans but even Wolrd War II to remain one of only three comics to continue publishing since the 1940s., take us home this week:
Superman & Lois, Season 1, Episode 8: Holding the Wrench
In films and on TV, Superman is generally depicted somewhere near the start of his superhero career. He's fresh at the Daily Planet, just starting to date Lois (or even still working up to that), and dealing with Lex Luthor as that mad billionaire steadily becomes his greatest nemesis. Superman & Lois, though, has never been geared that kind of storytelling, and that's because it's a spin-off of Supergirl, and the Girl of Steel had long established that Big Blue was working as a hero for years before she took up the cape. We'd seen him already married to Lois, them having a kid, and then "Crisis" rebooting things and moving one kid up to two boys, both of whom were teenagers.
As such, this show has had to do things a little differently. Superman couldn't be the same young guy because he was already setup at a different phase in his life. I know there are probably some viewers that hate that but, honestly, I've loved it. I like seeing a different take on Superman, one that, while still drawing on the comics (as DC has been exploring "super parent Superman" in their more recent issues), gives us something we haven't seen on TV or in films before: Superman as Super-Dad. For all the grousing I do about the CW shows feeling very much the same, over and over again, this version of Superman not only bucks that trend but it also forges a new path different from any Superman production to come before (and the CW Supergirl for that matter).
I note all this because this week (and the reveal last week) brought a new complication to the show, but it also showed a new twist for the Superman material that should continue to keep this show fresh and interesting. It's the one two punch of (a) John Henry Irons (aka Steel) being brought into the show -- albeit an alternate universe one that hates Superman (for good reason), and (b) the reveal that Kryptonians (or, at least, their souls and thus their powers) are coming to Earth thanks to Morgan Edge. Any thought of Superman having to fight some version of Lex Luthor again is out; this is a whole new ball game.
It's interesting as, over on Supergirl, we've seen a lot of Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer) and his war against aliens (who steal from his own "specialness"). Morgan Edge wanting to bring Kryptonians to Earth, under his control of course, his the opposite of Lex Luthor. He's not trying to be special, he just wants their powers so he can build an army and control the world (or something as his exact plan isn't fully clear yet). It's a contrast I appreciate and it ensures that Morgan Edge, despite being portrayed here so far as a kind of Lex Luthor clone, has a different plan and a different direction he'll be headed.
Meanwhile, the misdirect of having John Henry Irons be called "Captain Luthor" for the front half of the show (due to him building the A.I. that lives in his RV and the A.I. originally being designed for that world's Lex) allows us to have another twist away from Superman's arch-nemesis. Lex Luthor always stands opposed to Superman, and having "Captain Luthor" also be a nemesis made sense... right up until he was no longer Lex. Now we have a potential ally and superhero (i.e., Steel) whenever the show puts those characters in that position.
The episode itself wasn't all about Superman, and the show had as much to say about Lois as the revelations of this episode affected her, too. When searching Steel's camper van (a delightful idea, I have to say), Lois and Johnathan come across recordings from the alternate universe, revealing not only that alternate-Lois was killed by alternate-Superman, but also that John and alt-Lois had a daughter, Natalie. Lois and Clark of our universe had been hoping to have a daughter, who they also would have named Natalie after Lois's grandmother, but Lois had a miscarriage and then just couldn't deal with the pain.
On the one hand, I'm sure some people wondered why we were getting a miscarriage plot line in the middle of their superhero show, but it helped to add layers to Lois. She's not just Superman's woman but she has her own life, her own feelings, and past trauma she has to deal with. Plus, while all the other shows deal with young characters having young adventures, Lois having had this in her past, and the trauma she's still dealing with, gives us a new take on one of our superhero characters we haven't seen in this 'verse.
I really do respect this show's commitment not only towards exploring both halves on the titular superhero couple, both Clark and Lois, but also that it constantly tries to move away from the basic formula of all the shows in the Arrowverse that have come before. I think that goes a long way to explaining why all the other shows are floundering in the ratings while this series has been a ratings smash for the CW (by their relative metrics, at least). I bet CBS is really wishing they hadn't sent Supergirl packing to the CW now.
Elsewhere in the 'Verse
- As noted, everything other than Superman & Lois was off this last week, but we'll get back to more regular coverage this week in our usual Arrowverse articles.