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One of the benefits of a long-running shared small-screen storytelling landscape like the Arrowverse is the potential for new heroes and villains to constantly emerge, delighting longtime comics fans and surprising new viewers with reveals and developments with the potential to reverberate through each series for years to come. This week, we got one of those on Superman & Lois, and star Tyler Hoechlin seems just as excited about it as viewers.
*Spoilers for the Superman & Lois episode "The Thing in the Mines" ahead *
Over the past few weeks, Superman & Lois has been teasing a reveal from the depths of the Shuster Mines, something that's been making a lot of noise but never actually shown its face. This week, the thing in the mines finally revealed itself, emerging from the depths to battle Superman only to reveal that...it is Superman. Sort of. In a backwards, twisted way.
That's right, folks, Bizarro has arrived on Superman & Lois, which means Hoechlin is now playing four different personas on the series including Superman, Clark Kent, Bizarro and the alternate universe Superman from John Henry Irons' world.
"I remember the conversation I had with Todd Helbing, our amazing showrunner," Hoechlin told TVLine about the reveal. "I was insanely excited about it when he told me. With TV, there’s always the fear that sometimes you’ll get locked into doing the same thing over and over to the point where you feel like it’s Groundhog’s Day. This was a really cool chance to do something different — an opportunity to play on set and really let go."
First introduced as a Silver Age foil for Superman by writer Otto Binder and artist George Papp way back in 1958, Bizarro is depicted as a twisted, backwards version of Superman who battles the Man of Steel while talking in his own strange, opposite language. The character has since become a fan favorite, and various depictions have varied widely from all-out comedic to a kind of dark mirror of Superman to a meta-textual commentary on Superman's current place in the DC Universe. We don't yet know exactly which direction this version of the character will go, but for Hoechlin, it's a chance to play with a character that resembles him, but very much isn't him, creating a new experience not just for the audience, but for the actor.
"There’s a bit of a mix going on of practical and what they can do with VFX these days, which is amazing," Hoechlin said. "The moment you don’t see yourself in the mirror is a really freeing experience. You realize that one else is seeing you, either. They’re seeing this character. So it gives you the freedom to be a little more cavalier and just let go. That was really cool. Our makeup, hair and wardrobe teams collectively did a great job with this."
Of course, Bizarro's emergence from the mines also throws certain other potential developments for a loop. For a while now, fans had assumed the creature making noises in the mines was actually Doomsday, the Kryptonian monster most famous for killing Superman in comics in the 1990s. Bizarro's appearance puts that theory to bed, but it doesn't necessariliy mean we'll never see Doomsday on the show.
"When it’s a movie, it’s a lot easier to say yes it was this or no it was that as the actor," Hoechlin said. "On these shows, I never want to say anything definitive because I don’t know. There are certain things they keep from us too. I think it is what it is at the moment, but who knows what it leads to. Only Todd and the writers have that answer."
Superman & Lois airs Tuesdays on The CW.