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"It's a Bird... It's a Plane... It's Super…dad?"
When The CW’s new take on the Superman mythology premieres Feb. 23, be prepared for the domestic side of The Man of Steel, as he focuses on being a husband to Lois Lane and the father of twin teen boys.
Starring Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch, Superman and Lois will give the CW-verse edition of the couple — introduced in the Crisis on Infinite Earth event — their own series to explore the family moving back to Smallville from Metropolis.
At today’s Television Critics Association (TCA) winter panel for The CW, the showrunner of Superman and Lois, Todd Helbing, was joined by most of his cast including Hoechlin and Tulloch, as well as Jordan Elsass and Alexander Garfin as the twins, Jonathan and Jordan Kent.
Helbing told reporters that in the early days of developing this series with fellow executive producer Greg Berlanti, their goal was making a Superman story that was in general very different from what’s been presented in the myriad television adaptations that came before.
“We talked a lot about shows like Everwood and Friday Night Lights, and that this would be a family drama with Superman in it,” Helbing explained. He also said to separate it from the current crop of CW cape shows, they chased a feature aesthetic with everything from the aspect ratio to the cinematography. “We’re competing with streamers and cable nets now with big budgets, so we have to offer the audience an equal in quality.”
For her part, Tulloch says she was immediately sold when Helbing and Berlanti pitched the series idea to her and Hoechlin as more like Friday Night Lights than Arrow. “It was really grounded and real,” the actress said. “The series makes Lois Lane and Superman relatable because of lost jobs, and parenting their hormonal teenagers. Superman and Lois could be your next-door neighbors.”
Seeing super-progeny run around the Kent farm that isn’t baby Clark/Kal-El is certainly a new angle that hasn’t been a core narrative of any previous television version of the Superman story. But the actors playing the twins say that despite the two having wildly different personalities — Jonathan is the successful jock and Jordan is anxiety-ridden and more troubled — their relationship is also grounded in love.
“They have the common experiences of being the same age,” said Elsass. “They’ll bond more and get closer as they grow up. And that closeness is really important.”
Garfin added that the first conversations they had about portraying their relationship were about making sure it was clear that they love each other. “They can have fights, and can hate each other sometimes, but that’s because it’s built on a deep and wide foundation of love.”
Garfin was also quick to praise how the twins are written in the series, without the trite, teen defiance seen on many other shows. “It’s great to express teen characters in a more mature light,” he said of Superman and Lois. “The writing makes me so happy to have intelligence written into the characters and people can relate to that.”
Asked if powers manifesting for one or both of the twins will become an issue to deal with, Elsass said diplomatically: “Even if one doesn’t have powers and the other does, like Lois there will still be a superpower for the other twin. And their superpower will be [looking out] for the other twin.”
Speaking to that, Tulloch added that the series is all about showing how rooted the Kent family is, despite the rough spots all of them are experiencing in the pilot. “Moving them all to Smallville is about Lois and Superman realizing they were prioritizing the wrong things,” the actress said. “The kids are out of control and they need help, and maybe it’s a small town with fewer distractions that will be good for them. The cool thing about how we play them as a couple is that their relationship is all about respect and admiration.”
Superman and Lois debuts with a two-hour premiere event Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 8:00 p.m. ET on The CW.