Superman & Lois on The CW has so far been very good. It’s only been five episodes at the time of writing so there’s still time for it to fall off a cliff but so far so good. It looks great, the performances are all good to terrific and the Superman action all looks great. It’s clear that this has been given a bigger budget than any of the other CW superhero shows. The show’s biggest strength though, doesn’t lie in either Superman or Lois. The best thing in Superman & Lois is dorky Clark Kent.
There’s a common perception that Clark Kent is Superman’s disguise. That the way Kal-El acts as Clark is a performance of how he perceives humans and blend in with them so they don’t know his real identity. It’s certainly true of on-screen Superman performances. Christopher Reeve, the best screen Superman we’ve had so far, made sure that his Clark Kent was meek and awkward, with bad posture and constantly pushing his glasses up his nose like a true geek. Brandon Routh did his best Reeve impression for his performance although his Clark was a little less nerdy than Reeve. And Henry Cavill, who has the potential to surpass Reeve if he’s given Man of Steel 2, makes Clark Kent just a guy. He’s got the glasses, but his Clark isn’t that different from his Superman.
What all of these Clark Kents have in common is that it’s clear that all of them are Superman’s disguise. Clark is just how he blends in but Superman is who he is. That’s what Superman & Lois star Tyler Hoechlin does differently than the rest. His Clark is unabashedly a dork and that’s not because he’s trying to fit in so no one figures him out. He’s a dork because that’s who he is. It’s not an act that he turns on, Superman is the act that he turns on. He doesn’t act like a dork around his family because he’s hiding that he’s Superman. It’s because he is a dork. When he’s Superman, is when he’s hiding that he’s a dork.
Clark Kent grew up on a farm in Smallville. Martha and Jonathan Kent didn’t raise him as a Kryptonian, they raised him as a human. He should be dork. A guy like Clark, who grew up in a small town in the middle of Kansas should be a guy who genuinely gets way more excited over a “Harvest Festival” than any normal person should. That’s not a façade, that’s Clark Kent, Smallville’s own.
So as great as Lois Lane is, as great as the kids are, as interesting as the supporting cast of citizens is, as intriguing as Captain Luthor is, and especially as cool the Superman action in the show is, dorky Clark Kent is the real winner of the show. It’s nice to see a Clark Kent who isn’t a dork to hide, but because he genuinely is one. It’s endearing, it’s funny and it’s true to the character who was raised as a small town farm boy by Martha and Jonathan. The Superman stuff is terrific but the heart of the show is in moments like Clark geeking out over the Smallville Harvest Festival to his kids like only a real dorky dad could.