Superman & Lois 1×01 Review: “Pilot”

Superman & Lois pilot
Image: The CW

Superman has returned to television full-time. Tonight’s extended Superman & Lois pilot laid the groundwork for the show’s first season, establishing not only the Big Bad but also the journey the Kent family will be undergoing as they uproot their lives from Metropolis to Smallville and deal with at least one of the boys developing his own powers.

The Superman & Lois pilot hits all the necessary beats. Aside from the opening sequence, with a series of flashbacks showing Clark’s arrival on Earth up through the birth of his sons, Clark’s mother dies, which brings the Kent family back to Smallville. There is also the establishment of what looks to be the first major arc of the season, involving a mysterious villain with a grudge against Superman (revealed in the last scene to be a Luthor – we’re going to assume Lex because who else would it be?), and the Kent boys discovering that not only is their father a superhero, they will potentially get powers of their own.

OK, but is “Captain Luthor” Lex? Because we’ve already met Lex in this universe and I don’t think that guy is him. (Is not being caught up on any of the other Arrowverse shows going to be an issue? I knew I should have been using quarantine to binge them.)

Not only does Superman have to deal with this super powerful bad guy who seems to know everything about him – including his weakness, there is a very tense scene near the end when Superman gets stabbed with a piece of Kryptonite and almost falls to his death – but Clark and Lois have to deal with shady shenanigans happening in Smallville.

There is a scene in the Superman & Lois pilot where Clark and Lois have a beer with Lana and her husband, Kyle; Kyle and Lana allude to something happening with the farm, and there is very sinister music. I thought it was overkill until they established that the bank for which Lana works offered reverse mortgages to senior citizens in town – and the bank was recently purchased by Morgan Edge, an antagonist from Supergirl Season 3. The sinister music was your hint that something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Or Smallville, as the case may be.

This brings me to one of the things that confused me in the Superman & Lois pilot, which is the timeline. All Earths were combined into one in the last DCTV crossover, “Crisis on Infinite Earths”. In the last part of the crossover, the heroes returned to their homes to discover that aspects of their lives were very different. For example, Clark learned that instead of their one daughter, he and Lois now had twin boys. Yet, in the flashback sequence at the beginning, Clark clearly had memories of their sons. Did his consciousness merge with that universe’s Clark so that he got those memories? Superman & Lois can’t exist in a different universe – there aren’t any more.

Also, last I checked, Morgan Edge was in prison. I chalk this up to one of those “minor changes” caused by merging all the universes.

Overall, I enjoyed the pilot. I have never made a secret of the fact that I’m a huge fan of Tyler Hoechlin, and his being cast as Superman is the main reason I started watching Supergirl in the first place. I absolutely love his portrayal of both characters and the way he is able to contrast them so well. Clark Kent is goofy and awkward – he runs into people and drops things and has a general “aw shucks” persona. (I legitimately loved the scene where he apparently first saves someone, and the little boy says he likes his costume, and Clark responds, “Thanks, my mom made it.”) But Superman is confident and charismatic and utterly unlike his alter ego.

The dynamic between the members of the Kent family is great. I already enjoyed the relationship that Clark had with Lois in her few appearances in the previous DCTV crossover events. Lois already knows his secret, so that doesn’t get in the way of how they interact. I like that they’re established as a couple, because it allows the show to explore aspects of their relationship that haven’t really been dealt with in previous media.

Superman & Lois pilot
Image: The CW

It also means that the focus of Superman & Lois can be on developing the relationship between Clark, Lois, and their sons – Jonathan and Jordan. The family element is something we’ve not yet got the chance to see, and I’m eager to watch it happen. The Superman & Lois pilot shows us that Clark’s relationship with his sons is strained due to his work as Superman, and this all culminates in a massive argument when the boys discover Clark’s pod in the barn and learn the truth about who and what their father is. (Side note: when will people learn to put something heavy on top of their secret trap doors?)

This scene struck me as a little melodramatic, mostly because Clark just blurted everything out and it didn’t sound like an organic confession. The boys’ reactions felt very genuine, because these are two teenagers who just learned that their parents have been lying to them their entire lives. Still melodramatic, but they’re teenagers so that’s par for the course. It’s almost unbelievable how quick they were to forgive Clark and Lois, but I suppose the sudden emergence of superpowers was enough to put things in perspective. I do appreciate that Clark apologized to Jordan for not telling him sooner; it’s always refreshing to see a parent admit to their child when they made a mistake.

I have always found it hilarious how Superman’s disguise is a simple pair of glasses. When I was younger, I thought everyone in Metropolis must be completely oblivious. Then I got contacts after seven years of wearing glasses, and more than one teacher didn’t recognize me at school. Still, I find it very difficult to believe that neither Jonathan nor Jordan ever looked at Superman and went, “Hey, doesn’t that look kind of like Dad?”

(What I find most unbelievable is Hoechlin being a father to two high school freshmen. He’s younger than I am! I know it’s possible and there are people my age with even older kids but it makes me feel old. Stop it.)

In general, I liked the Kent boys. The Superman & Lois pilot very unsubtly establishes right away that Jonathan and Jordan may be twins, but they are nothing alike. Jonathan is the stereotypical jock – he announces that he’s starting varsity quarterback as a freshman (which is virtually unheard of), he has a girlfriend, and he generally seems to be the more outgoing of the two. Jordan is the stereotypical gamer – he plays video games while listening to loud music, he has no idea how to talk to girls, and he makes “nerdy” pop culture references. (It is 2021, can we please stop acting like being interested in Star Trek makes a person weird? If you want to give someone a weird nerdy interest, you have to make it something obscure, not one of the most popular and well-known franchises on the planet.)

Now, props to this show for giving Jordan social anxiety, but it bothered me a little how Clark’s voiceover made it sound like he’d been diagnosed with leukemia.

But the important thing that we learn in this episode is that, though the boys may be different, they still love each other and are fiercely protective. Jonathan rushes to save Jordan from the falling pipes and the bullies at the party, even though it ends up being Jordan who saves him. Jonathan also keeps trying to wingman his brother with Lana’s daughter.

I was a little surprised at how grim the Superman & Lois pilot was. Perhaps I was expecting something a little more along the lines of Supergirl, which has its darker moments but tends to be brighter – more upbeat and hopeful. Superman & Lois is extremely cinematic – there are sweeping landscape shots and powerful orchestral scores – but it’s dim and loud. I sometimes had trouble following the action because I couldn’t see what was going on (they seriously need to take the Instagram filter off some of the scenes), and occasionally I couldn’t hear the dialogue because the music was overwhelming it. During the pivotal fight with Superman and Mysterious Bad Guy, I kept going, “But what are they saying?” and it reminded me of why I usually watch with the closed caption on.

For the most part, though, I think the Superman & Lois pilot did a great job of setting the stage for what is to come. I’m looking forward to the family dynamics almost as much as I’m eager to unlock more clues to the mystery villain.

Author: Jamie Sugah

Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.

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