DC Comics is majorly active on television, with The CW currently running four comic book shows, The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow, while FOX has the Batman prequel series, Gotham, and we might be getting Black Lightning (on FOX) and Krypton (on SyFy) next year. But before we got to this point that we are at with DC TV, there was Smallville, the 10 year amazing journey about Clark Kent before he became the legend that is Superman.
While Smallville ended in 2011, the show hasn’t been available on streaming services, but finally will be as of this Saturday when all ten seasons becomes available on Hulu as it was previously announced that they had picked up the streaming rights to the series. The show, created by Al Gough and Miles Millar, was an re-imagining of the iconic Man of Steel as we follow Clark (played by Tom Welling) throughout his teenage years and eventually his early years in Metropolis before he suits up.
The show is near and dear to a lot of people in the world, including this journalist who grew up on the show from the age of six. As Smallville is arriving on Hulu this weekend, we wanted to go through 15 reasons why new fans should check out this series or even why old viewers should re-watch the show, if they haven’t done it in a long time. With that said, hit the NEXT button below and let’s get started.
15: One Of The Best Casts On TV
While we will be going individually into some of these cast members and their portrayal of their characters, this is more focused on the cast as a whole. Smallville was Clark Kent’s story, but the supporting characters around him, had just as much of a focus as he did. One of the main reasons I tuned in every week was to not just follow Clark, but the whole ensemble with these talented actors. The cast would also evolve throughout the ten years, with former cast members leaving and new ones arriving, like Cassidy Freeman’s Tess Mercer and Justin Hartley’s Oliver Queen.
14: Original Characters Such As Chloe Sullivan & Lionel Luthor
This show was never afraid of adding its own mythology and layers to the Superman lore, and two of those original additions were the characters of Chloe Sullivan and Lionel Luthor. Allison Mack portrayed Clark’s best friend who was all about exploring the weird and unexplained that was happening in Smallville. Chloe was in many ways the eyes of the audience as she were asking the questions that viewers were asking whenever something freaky like a Kryptonite infected person would cause problem. Chloe’s evolution throughout the whole series became of the greatest aspects of it, from the many roles that she played throughout the show. The best part though was that she, like Lois, was her own character that wasn’t purely there just to assist in Clark’s journey.
John Glover, a legend in many ways, portrayed Lex Luthor’s complex father because you would never know for sure if he was a good or bad guy throughout the seven seasons he was on the show. Even when you start see him shift towards the side of the allies, Clark would always have to keep a close eye on him. His role on the show was also a key factor to leading Lex down the villainous path that he was destined for.
13: Appearances Of Superman/DC Related Actors
Smallville, while its own interpretation of the Superman mythology, was always honoring what came before with previous Superman adaptations in the media. Throughout the show’s run, we saw several Superman related actors appear on the show, with Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, Dean Cain, Teri Hatcher, Helen Slater, Marc McClure and Terrance Stamp, having all appeared throughout the show’s run. Seeing Reeves portray Virgil Swan, the man that would introduce Clark to his Kryptonian legacy, or Hatcher as Lois Lane’s mother or hearing Stamp be the voice of Jor-El in the Fortress of Solitude, was phenomenal. Smallville did a lot of things right and this was one of them, which was honoring and celebrating the past, while also giving the viewers a special treat.
12: The Expanded Focus On The Kent Parents
In the Superman mythology, there are several key people in Clark’s life that helps shape him into the man he is known as to the world. Two of those people are his adoptative parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent, who both had fleshed out roles on Smallville where they were played by John Schneider and Annette O’Toole (who played Lana Lang in the old Superman movies). What the show did so well with in Clark’s origin story is show how much influence the Kents had on him and how imperative they are to shaping him into a hero. The writing and performances of the Kents were so inspiring and moving, that you wish they were your parents, I certainly did at many points.
11: Smallville’s Take On DC Comics Villains
Throughout the ten years, we see the introduction of several iconic Superman (and DC related) villains come to life as the show did their own takes on antagonists such as Darkseid, Doomsday, Brainiac, Zod and many others. While the producers and writers would put their own take on some of these famous villains, they always managed to honor the comic book history and lining it up with the mythology in one way or another. I will acknowledge that some of them were interesting choices purely because they showed up at a time when Clark wasn’t Superman. But again, this was the kind of change that I was OK with because as long as they featured the essential character traits of who they are in the comics, I’m all good.
10: Smallville’s Take On DC Comics Heroes
This show didn’t just feature a young Man of Steel, but also several other heroes from the DC Comics Universe. Green Arrow, who we will talk about more later, was just one of many superheroes that Clark got to befriend in his journey. While the name Justice League was never coined, the show did introduce the league throughout the series with characters like Impulse, Cyborg, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, Black Canary, Supergirl, Zatanna and many more. But what was great about this aspect of the show was that it showed to other networks out there that the comic book genre is worth investing in, in television and not just the big screen. There was a desire to follow these characters in weekly episodes where they get the chance to be fleshed out and developed throughout multiple hours.
9: Michael Rosenbaum’s Lex Luthor
Lex Luthor, the Man of Steel’s greatest nemesis, has been portrayed in several interpretations in television and film. But Smallville’s take on Lex, with Michael Rosenbaum portraying the character, is the best version of Lex that we have seen on screen. Maybe it was the advantage of having seven years of fleshing the character out as opposed to having just 2 hours on the big screen every other year that makes me feel this way. But to me, Rosenbaum and the writers had the perfect balance in how they portrayed this iconic villain where you would actually be afraid of him, what he could do and understand why he is a formidable villain to Superman.
While great actors have portrayed Lex in film and TV, those versions just didn’t have that perfect balance and never really came off as a legit threat to their Superman. Smallville wasn’t just about the rise of Clark Kent, but also the dark path of Lex Luthor to become the man that hates Superman the most. By making the two of them friends in the beginning and slowly starting to send the characters into their respective roles as hero and villain, the show nails in making it so clear why these two men will always be on different sides.
8: Justin Hartley’s Green Arrow
Before Stephen Amell became the Green Arrow of CW’s Arrow, Smallville had introduced the Emerald Archer for the first time in live-action as Justin Hartley suited up as the iconic archer. In many ways, it was Hartley’s popularity with the character that definitely raised the character’s awareness to regular viewers and even comic fans. Hartley’s Oliver was a great contrast to Clark as we saw the TV series show us and Clark other ways of being a hero and gave him a different perspective of the role of a hero. While it wasn’t a Green Arrow show per say, we do get to explore Oliver’s background that does honor the comics and we even get introduced to some of his characters like Black Canary and Speedy. Even though there were dark periods of this character, throughout most of his run, Oliver was always portrayed as the witty and smart character that we know and love from the comics.
7: Erica Durance’s Lois Lane
I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t acknowledge that there were mixed reactions to the show deciding to bring in Lois Lane so early in Clark’s life at the start of Season 4, because most are used to seeing Lois meet Clark when he comes to Metropolis. However, it wasn’t a problem once you saw the amazing talent that was Erica Durance who is one of the top actresses to have played this character, next to Amy Adams, Teri Hatcher and Margot Kidder. Smallville’s Lois, played Erica Durance, had some new aspects added to her character, like being the cousin of Chloe Sullivan and more, but she was still everything we love about Lois. She wouldn’t take crap from anyone, always believed in what she stood for and was a force to be reckoned with. As Clark’s origin story was being told, so was hers where we see her in the early days of her journalistic career before being Daily Planet’s star reporter. Durance’s powerful chemistry with Tom Welling also became one of the show’s best aspects which also helped in portraying the iconic romance, which we will get to soon.
6: Honoring The Mythology While Taking Their Own Spin At It
When you are adapting something that is based on comic books, it’s understandable that you want to do it in new and creative ways because it wouldn’t be much fun if you were adapting everything straight off the panels. Smallville wasn’t afraid of creating its own take on the world of Superman, with changes such as Lois (being Chloe’s cousin) coming in early in the game, Clark and Lex having a brotherly friendship before their destinies arrived and more. But the show still honored the mythology by lining it up in one way or another eventually by show’s end. You can still have your own creations of stories and characters, like Chloe and Lionel, while also respecting what the mythology is. As an origin story to the Man of Steel, it was a ten year long run that was worth tuning in for every week.
5: The Adaptation Of An Iconic Romance
As I have said previously, Lois did come in at a different time in Clark’s life than some fans are used to, but it was this decision, that helped make the iconic romance between Lois and Clark that much stronger. Towards the end of Season 7 and forward, we begin to see the two reporters like each other more than just friends. Before that, the show had portrayed Clark and Lois’ relationship as a butt-heading friendship that would get stronger as they grew closer. Welling and Durance’s chemistry was so powerful that any time they were on screen together, it was magical, similarly to The Flash’s Grant Gustin and Candice Patton who play Barry Allen and Iris West, respectively. The Lois and Clark relationship throughout Smallville’s run was just fun, beautiful and well executed.
4: Geoff Johns’ Episodes
Season 8 marked the first year when DC Comics legend Geoff Johns (now the Chief Creative Officer, President and Co-Head of DC Films) wrote his first episode of the series titled “Legion” which introduced the Legion of Super-Heroes to the Smallville Universe. After Season 5 of the show, Smallville started becoming more comic book-y with introducing more heroes and villains in Clark’s life. After Season 8, Johns would come back once per season to write an episode and it became such a huge deal that it became an event itself every fall when fans were looking forward to his episode. He wrote a two-part story featuring the Justice Society of America in Season 9 that was the perfect time to introduce a group like that as Clark was taking the next steps in heroic journey. The final season, Johns introduced the fan favorites Booster Gold and Blue Beetle (Jaime Reyes) as Clark was almost at the end of his journey to become Superman.
3: Tom Welling’s Directed Episodes
During Season 5, Welling took on another role in the series as he made his directorial debut and like how Johns’ annual episodes became like an event, so did Welling’s directed episodes each season. Here are the following episodes that he directed:
Episode 5.18 "Fragile"
Episode 6.10 "Hydro"
Episode 7.18 "Apocalypse"
Episode 8.21 "Injustice"
Episode 9.11 "Absolute Justice"
Episode 10.09 "Patriot"
Episode 10.18 "Booster"
Some of my personal favorite ones, were “Apocalypse”, “Booster” and Part 2 of “Absolute Justice”, but Welling as a director overall was inspiring to see. It’s always neat to see how the star of a show put his or her vision into an entire episode where they aren’t just in front of the camera, but also behind it.
2: Paving The Way For Today’s DC TV Shows
Many will say that Arrow was the show to really set off the DC TV franchise that we are experiencing today and I will agree to that to a certain degree. But in many ways, Smallville should also be credited for paving the way for today’s DC TV shows. I’m not going to pretend that Smallville was without flaws, because no TV show or film is 100% perfect. But what this show succeeded with was showing that these iconic characters are also worth telling the stories of in episodic TV and not just the big screen. During Smallville’s run, there weren’t a lot of comic book shows because network executives hadn’t realized yet that this genre was worth investing in. Smallville may be somewhat of a different DC show to the ones we have today, because it was an origin story, the show still holds up to something like The Flash or Supergirl in its own ways. As I mentioned before, it was this show that really helped put Green Arrow on the map a bit better so if it wasn’t for this show, Arrow may not necessarily have happened.
1: Tom Welling’s Clark Kent/Superman
Last, but definitely not the least, the man himself, Tom Welling who spend ten years playing one of DC Comics’ most beloved heroes. One of the most fascinating aspects of Smallville was seeing not just Clark’s journey to become Superman, but also Welling’s journey as an evolving actor and how he dealt with this character. Welling’s Clark had everything you want in your Superman: the heart, the strength, the care and true heroism, to the point where you almost forgot that eventually, this man puts on a cape. Welling did not just become a director on the show, but eventually one of the executive producers as he got to give input for the vision of the last two seasons. We have had many great actors portray this beloved legend and even though he doesn’t suit up till the end, Welling will always be one of the great actors to have portrayed Superman and that is one of the many reasons new fans should tune into Smallville when it arrives on Hulu.
Smallville will officially hit Hulu on Saturday, October 1 with all ten seasons available.