The CW has become the de facto home for DC Comics superheroes on television in recent years, and after the past two weeks, it’s obvious the Man of Steel deserves his own spot on the schedule. Full-time.
The CBS outcast Supergirl is quickly turning into a solid ratings hit for the network, certainly helped along by the introduction of Tyler Hoechlin (Teen Wolf) as the small-screen version of Superman for the opening two-parter. Hoechlin is everything the big-screen Superman is not these days, and we didn’t really realize what we’d been missing until we saw him flash his pearly whites and save the day with an aww shucks grin.
Hoechlin’s Christopher Reeve-evoking take on the Man of Steel also created a major problem for the series he was guest-starring on — the dude is just too good. Supergirl spent its entire first season tiptoeing around the idea of Superman, showing him in the distance doused in lens flare, or having Kara communicate with him via text message. (Which is just so dumb. They can literally fly and meet one another in under 10 seconds. This is infuriating, sorry.) They finally pulled the trigger (and scored clearance from Warner Bros.) to introduce the character outright this season, a move the producers said was designed to essentially put a face to the name so viewers can “imagine” Hoechlin on the other end of that text message. An innocent motivation, to be sure.
Instead, they accidentally went and introduced a live-action version of Superman that has instantly been accepted as a much better version of the character than what Zack Snyder is doing in his big-budget blockbusters Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. You know, the movies Warner Bros. and DC are pinning all their hopes and dreams on. Oops. This version of Superman is hopeful, funny and everything people actually like about Superman. It seems obvious, but here we are. When the studio agreed to let Supergirl introduce its own Superman, the writers have alluded to some stipulations in the deal. For one, the approval was only for this two-parter (at least for now), and the character cannot be a series regular on Supergirl under the current agreement.
Of course, this isn’t the first time Superman has shown up on television in the modern era. You had the long-running Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman back in the mid-1990s, and then The WB’s Smallville stayed on the airwaves for a decade (and ended its tenure a mere five years ago). We’ll note Smallville was in the middle of its run when Superman Returns hit the big screen — so there’s certainly precedent for parallel versions of this character. Heck, we already have Grant Gustin’s TV Flash and Ezra Miller’s big-screen Barry Allen running around. So why is this such a big deal?
Like any contract, it can always be changed under the right circumstances. A crossover between Flash and Supergirl seemed like a pipe dream, and so did the idea that Supergirl would ever actually introduce its own version of Superman. But they both (obviously) happened. And here we are.
So when The CW looks to potentially expand its DC empire a step further in the future (and you know it’ll happen), we believe Hoechlin’s Superman deserves his own spinoff series. It’s not just a great idea because it’d be a heck of a lot of fun, but it’d also be a benefit to Supergirl. Here’s why: Despite the best efforts to avoid it, Superman absolutely stole a whole lot of Supergirl’s thunder during her network debut. With him flying back to Metropolis at the end of the episode never to be seen again (unless they can work out another one-off agreement), it leaves a strange void in this series.
We’ve seen how close they are, and we’ve seen them team-up to take on villains … so why wouldn’t that happen a bit more often then? Not every week, obviously, but a few times per season would make sense. Introducing him once then shuffling him back to a chat icon does a disservice to the character, and to the world of Supergirl. Superman exists in this world, we’ve met him, it only makes sense he’d pop in on occasion. Much like the subtle crossovers between Arrow and Flash the past few seasons, where a relevant character might jump shows to lend a hand. If you want us to believe it’s all one big world, it actually has to be one big world.
So if they went ahead and gave Superman his own series, it could take the pressure off Supergirl to address the fact that he’s also out there saving the day in Metropolis. Because we could actually see him do it. The companion series format could obviously still facilitate crossovers when relevant, and you wouldn’t have to worry about Superman stealing Supergirl’s spotlight. He’d have his own show to go off and battle Lex Luthor in and annoy Perry White with his small town witticisms. It would just take the right creative approach to ensure Superman has his own strong, supporting cast and unique problems in Metropolis (much like Arrow and Flash have their own tone and stories, but still mesh together).
You’d have to imagine Marc Guggenheim and the creative team would be into the idea, and considering the DC fare remains the highest performers for The CW (and Hoechlin’s Man of Steel was a bona fide hit the past two weeks), you’d think the network would almost certainly be game. As usual, it comes back down to Warner Bros. and DC. They already loosened the death grip on Supes by letting Hoechlin show up at all, and with Geoff Johns holding more power than ever now, it sounds like the CW shows are getting a bit more flexibility (i.e. Deadshot’s return in a recent Arrow episode).
The Supergirl premiere essentially served as a backdoor pilot (even if it was by accident), and I’d argue it’s past time for a live action version of Superman we can actually enjoy watching. If Zack Snyder won’t give it to us, let Guggenheim and The CW.