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Smallville

Superman's Best Adaptation

By Alexandrea CallaghanPublished 3 months ago 4 min read
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With about a thousand adaptations of Superman in existence there is always plenty of talk around the fans of DC about which is the best. The reality of the situation is that there are many good adaptations but none as good, or as thorough as Smallville. The 2001 live action series set the bar high for all superhero media to come and yet none have lived up to the incredible nature of Smallville.

One of the many reasons why Smallville is obviously the best Superman adaptation is how they handled the development of Clark’s powers. Starting the series when Clark was in high school was a brilliant choice, it allowed for the story to have somewhere to go as well as allowing the audience to connect to Clark as a character before he became a “hero”. Clark develops some of his powers like his flying and heat vision after the start of the show, these are often linked to the fact that he is a teenager. Hormonal changes lead to a growth in his powers, this takes a Buffy the Vampire Slayer-like approach to handling herodom and puberty.

Which leads us to our second reason why this show is so incredible, humanity. Clark is saddled with the responsibility of having superpowers, something he didn’t ask for and doesn’t fully understand until much later. He struggles with the mortality of the people that he loves as well as balancing being a normal person with that responsibility. Superhero media occasionally tackles themes of humanity and mortality but none as skillfully as Smallville. The serialized format also allows Clark to interact with other superpowered people and that gives him perspective. Some people use their abilities for selfish reasons, Clark always uses his altruistically. But this then leads to the struggle of a god complex, who is he to stop things from happening? To change the course of people's lives? Even if he believes it's for the better…

One person who Clark does have a huge impact on is Lex Luthor, my personal favorite part of the show. Michael Rosenbaum not only brought new life to the character but he and Tom had incredible screen chemistry that just made their friendship and their downfall more entertaining and heartbreaking to watch. Their relationship was arguably the best reason why this show is so good, it makes Lex becoming a “villain” so much more understandable. It's also hard not to continue to root for him, Lex says early on that they are like brothers, we find out a little later that Lex had a brother who died. That detail makes every single one of Clark and Lex’s interactions carry some more weight. When Lex feels like Clark is hiding something from him, he feels betrayed because he really did pour all of this brotherly affection into Clark, he projects this longing and grief onto their relationship because of the loss of his own brother. It's honestly not just the best part of the show but it's the best villain backstory in any superhero media.

Of course one of my other favorite parts of the show is Lois Lane, no not her and Clark’s relationship but Lois herself. Erica Durance is stunningly beautiful and absolutely perfect in this role. Lois is nearly always written as the girl that fawns over Clark, sure she’s a reporter but that's always treated as an ancillary part of her personality, the thing Smallville does right is it makes her being a reporter her whole personality. From her very introduction Lois is inquisitive, strong, brilliant and she doesn’t take shit from anyone. Clark and a relationship were the furthest thing from her mind, and that is why her portrayal was incredible. She was her own person first, a reporter second and was never, ever “Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane”.

For comic book fans however the best part of the show may have been the intro of Aquaman, Flash, Black Canary and Green Arrow. Pulling in other members of the Justice League without being too on the nose about it and while keeping the team ups to a minimum was a stroke of genius. Never did another hero upstage Clark, nor did it ever feel gimmick. The interactions were always organic and as the show got bigger it made sense to introduce more recognizable heroes. It also made sense that once we moved away from Smallville a little and more into Metropolis that more heroes would be involved. I also appreciate that they always kept Clark front and center, no one they brought in was stronger then Clark, no Wonder Woman no Shazam just extended universe heroes that aided the story.

Overall there is no doubt that Smallville is the best adaptation of Superman in existence. The thought and care taken with the story continues to be unmatched and the emotion in which the cast portrayed the story is unparalleled. Add in the fact that they made Christopher Reeve a mentor to Clark and you have the most accurate and touching tribute to an iconic character.

comicsentertainmentmoviesuperheroestvpop culture
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About the Creator

Alexandrea Callaghan

Certified nerd, super geek and very proud fangirl.

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