Forget Arrow, Flash, Supergirl, and the other CW superhero shows, as Superman & Lois is taking a very different approach, and it's showing a level of maturity we're not used too from the network. Yes, the actors who play Clark Kent and Lois Lane (Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch, respectively) are the same ones that appeared in the Supergirl show and in the crossover episodes, but the CW is keeping, at least for now, Superman & Lois away of the "Arrowverse".
But what is Superman & Lois about? It is, above all else, a family drama, involving Clark Kent, Lois Lane, and their two sons, Jonathan Kent and Jordan Kent. We were surprised by the family dynamics of these four characters, approached in a very modern and sincere angle. For example, Jordan Kent suffers from an anxiety disorder, and is clearly the most tormented brother of the two, but not to the point of being too much. Moreover, while there's poking between the two brothers, in the end they really care about each other, and it is easy to get involved in their relationship - the dialogues are great, and actors Jordan Elsass (Jonathan Kent) and Alex Garfin (Jordan Kent) are sublime in the show. Nothing is forced, and no one seems to fall into typical stereotypes, as each character is multi-layered.
In this first episode the Kent family has to deal with some difficult and surprisingly emotional moments, proving that the CW was not afraid to take some risks with the show. These are genuine problems, merely amplified by the fact that Clark Kent is also Superman. Economic difficulties, absent fatherhood, psychological problems, and the rebellious nature of teenagers, are some of the subjects covered by the show, but there are others.
Superman & Lois also comments on the difficulties felt by small towns, and the need for investors to appear and create jobs, even if there's always a risk these investors are more interested in exploiting people than in creating genuine opportunities. This is where Lois Lane and her journalistic talent will come in, although there is also the feeling that her persistence for the truth could create problems for the people of Smallville and even for her family.
If Clark Kent and Lois Lane represent the adult side of a family dynamic, the two brothers will allow us to revisit Smallville's school and teenage spirit. Complicated relationships and bullying are themes that the series seems to be going to address in the future, and there are even references to drugs and the impact they can have on a family and a small town. These are themes that we never expected to see explored in a CW series, let alone in such a natural, sincere, and modern way.
That's all fine, but what about actual Superman?
Don't worry, Superman is also very much a part of the show, and we think this is a fantastic version of the character. In addition to having one of the best Superman costumes ever (there's actually two versions in the show, but one is merely a delightful reference to Action Comics Nº1), Tyler Hoechlin interprets the character as someone friendly, relatable, and approachable, more interested in saving people than in fighting villains. It's not an action-packed series, but there are some "super" moments, and even a battle at the end of the first episode against a new villain.
This villain is the weakest point of this first episode. Not that it's a bad villain, but for now, we're not convinced with what he can add to the theme of the show.
Before we're done, allow us to praise the show's cinematography, special effects, and soundtrack, all at a level of quality far above what we got used to seeing in the other CW shows. The fact that Superman & Lois is only 15 episodes, instead of the typical 23 episode format, might have allowed the channel to invest in quality over quantity, and we feel that's the right approach.
This first episode, which lasts just over an hour, is emotional, relatable, and sincere, and foreshadows a very promising future for Superman & Lois. We didn't expect something of such high quality from the CW, but the truth is this pilot episode impresses in almost every field, from dialogues to actors, from visual effects to cinematography, and even by the themes it addresses. It's an original, smart, and modern approach to the Superman mythos, and we can't wait to continue to see where the show goes next.