Producers tease Smallville season nine

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

Way back in 2001, when the creators of The CW's Smallville, Al Gough and Miles Millar, first introduced their take on Clark Kent's origin story before he turned into Superman, the pair laid out a very stringent mandate—"no tights, no flights." They held fast to that edict until they left the show in 2008, and now, two seasons later, there's going to be a bit of a crack in that hard-and-fast rule. (Major spoilers ahead!)

Yes, Clark Kent (Tom Welling) is finally donning a super suit, though it's not the iconic yellow, blue and red suit the world has come to recognize. Rather, it will be more of a snazzy black and silver number. But according to season nine show runners Kelly Souders and Brian Peterson, it's a step closer.

Promoting the upcoming season at San Diego Comic-Con last week, the pair told a small group of reporters, including SCI FI Wire, that the time was right to see Clark slowly inch closer toward his superhero identity this year.

"He isn't a guy who is going to put the tights and the boots on yet," Souders said. "He hasn't gone as far as Green Arrow or Black Canary. He's still on his path to becoming that man. But he is definitely recognizing that there is a second identity for him. As much as he knows what Clark Kent looks like, he needs to figure out what the Superman part looks like. So it might not be the costume everybody is used to seeing, but it is one step closer to that."

The suit represents just one part of Clark's acceptance of his otherworldly origins this year. "Up until now Clark has seen himself as human, and he's seen his Kryptonian identity as something to hide," Peterson said. "This year he's embracing his Kryptonian identity and seeing himself solely as a hero, almost to the detriment of living as a human. It's really the pendulum swinging a little too far in the other direction as he finds his ground and balance between the two identities. He's really going to be pulled back into being Clark Kent by the realization that he loves Lois Lane. It's the crux of the year, his burgeoning love for Lois and the love triangle of Clark loves Lois, but Lois loves Superman."

There's also the Zod factor, with the full-on integration of the Kryptonian villain into the seasonal arc. Played by actor Callum Blue, "Zod brings a new dynamic into the show, because we are introducing him as Major Zod before he ever turns into General Zod," Peterson said. "We get to see his trajectory. We have never had a Kryptonian living on Earth with Clark for an entire season, and we'll see how that affects his journey."

Yet they are quick to point out that this Major Zod will not be the authoritative and dominant character that actor Terence Stamp played in two Superman films. Blue's Zod will be less in command and more uncertain about his purpose on Earth. "There is a reason he doesn't know much, and when people tune in to the first episode, they will be surprised at the situation that he finds himself in," Souders hinted. "So along with the fans, he will be unraveling what the overarching mystery is."

Could that mystery involve Clark's dad, and Zod's archenemy, Jor-El?

The producers just smiled at that query. "Without trying to do too much time-jumping and alternate universes [in the first six episodes], we are going to try and explore the relationship between Zod and Clark, and what if that were different, and what if Zod and Jor-El had been different in the past," Peterson said. "And the great thing is that we do have Terence Stamp back as the voice of Jor-El."

When asked if perhaps Jor-El could also make a visit in the flesh this season, their smiles only got broader. "You might have to just tune in for that one," Souder teased. Smallville returns to The CW on Sept. 25.