Tuesday, February 23, 2021

REVIEW: 'Superman & Lois' - Clark and Lois Struggle to Find the Perfect Balance Between Their Work and Family in 'Pilot'

The CW's Superman & Lois - Episode 1.01 "Pilot"

After years of megalomaniacal supervillains, monsters wreaking havoc on Metropolis, and alien invaders intent on wiping out the human race, the world's most famous superhero, Superman aka Clark Kent, and most famous journalist, Lois Lane, come face to face with one of their greatest challenges ever - dealing with all the stress, pressures and complexities that come with being working parents in today's society.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of The CW's Superman & Lois.

"Pilot" was directed by Lee Toland Krieger with story by Greg Berlanti & Todd Helbing and teleplay by Todd Helbing

What are the expectations for who Superman is suppose to be? People feel entitled to take parts of his identity because he serves as a superhero with incredible abilities. Clark always feels the need to be of service to others. He saves the world and countless lives whenever they are in danger. However, him fulfilling that space can take him away from other aspects of his identity that are equally important. He is a husband and father as well. Those parts of his life don't have to distract or take away from his willingness to serve. They have the potential to further expand his worldview. And yet, it's also apparent that he feels a growing distance with his sons. He has been away for portions of their lives. He always comes back home to them and Lois. The balance is a near constant struggle though. The world is in danger. Someone is attacking nuclear reactors. Clark is the only hero capable of averting disaster. He is facing off with an enemy who seems to know almost every single thing about his identity. This stranger knows the limits of Superman's powers and how to injure him in battle. It's a daunting threat. One that can do quite a bit of harm to the world. Clark rallies back to life because he has something on Earth worth fighting for. He loves his family and must protect them no matter what. However, he has kept his alien identity a secret from his twin sons. Clark and Lois have had concerns about the boys developing their own powers. They feared that it would become present in one and not the other. They didn't want to contribute anything more to the anxiety issues that plague Jordan's life. Jonathan is perceived to be just as powerful as his father. Clark bonds with him more easily. They have similar interests. Jordan has problems that Clark can't connect to or understand. It's difficult. He fears his son is pushing him away. Learning this secret could bring the entire family closer together. A family tragedy forces that into happening. Clark's mother dies and the family returns to Smallville. They see an opportunity to embrace a different life. One that is smaller but no less rewarding. The people in this town are happy. And yet, it has changed a lot since Clark was young as well. It's a dying piece of small town USA. This is part of the American story right now. Rural areas are dying because the sense of community can no longer overcome financial disparity. Instead, it has become home to more unseemly elements that aren't all that hidden under the surface. It only takes a small amount of digging for Lois to learn that Morgan Edge has a financial interest in the further development of this town. His interests are much more than buying the Daily Planet and laying off a significant portion of the staff. His actions change so many lives. Clark and Lois have some stability because they have options about where they wish to raise their family. It's different than what they expected when the twins were born and they got married. It's still a happy and loving life. And yet, Clark still has to share himself with so many people because of the expectations of Superman. People target him. It is dangerous. His family could be harmed. He has a responsibility to them as well. Tragedies can occur because Jonathan and Jordan don't understand the strange things happening in their lives. Clark and Lois eventually tell them the truth. They still act erratically. The volatile nature of being a teenager is amplified further by this secret and not knowing what powers actually lay dormant inside them. Those are the challenges they face. That's just as crucial as whatever Captain Luthor has planned next for Superman. It's a different tone than what The CW audience typically expects from the superhero genre. It's not the first time an emphasis has been placed on the burden of family and the life of a hero. Black Lightning has covered that story already. It's unique in this instance because it's a version of the Superman and Lois Lane story that hasn't been done a million times already. That's refreshing. It should leave the audience curious about the future because the pacing is so different. The narrative could easily revert back to those familiar patterns. Or it could truly try to dig a little deeper to share a unique perspective while still providing all of the thrills the viewer comes to expect from this property. Navigating these ambitions will solidify how Superman & Lois fits into the universe at large. Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch have played these roles in other shows on the network. Those crossover connections and opportunities aren't addressed here. Instead, it's about the individual story of this particular family and the struggles they face. The scope can expand at any time. Right now, it's important to remain grounded in this moment with this family even as Superman battles his new enemy while ascending to space. The family fuels him. That drive is vital and powerful. It needs to be nourished as well. That complexity fills the heart of the show even though Clark and Lois are also tracking villains and unraveling massive conspiracies.