Superman hasn’t necessarily been out of the limelight these past few years. With Henry Cavill as the new ‘Man of Steel’, the farm boy turned hero has never been more popularized in everyday conversation; that is, unless you were tuned into a little TV show on the CW fifteen years ago called Smallville.
Smallville gave life to Superman’s past as more than just his life as Clark Kent, son of farmers. The show introduced the relationship that Clark had with characters like Lana Lang, Pete Ross, and even Lex Luthor. In fact, the show defines the intimacy of Clark and Lex’s relationship far before Clark even donned the red and blue costume. Of course, this is only a single iteration of the acclaimed superhero, but this one paints the perfect picture of a simple boy who is destined for greatness.
The first season really only serves as a platform for the different relationships that define the comic book hero. His soon to be best friend, Lex Luthor, smashes his car into Clark and drives off a bridge and straight into the water. Being the ‘Man of Steel’, Clark is unhurt and pulls Lex out of the water, calling it a simple rush of adrenaline that saved them both. This drives Lex to owe Clark his life and does all he can throughout the series to prove to the Kent family that he is much more than just another Luthor, seeing as his father drove most farms in the area to the ground in crippling debt. Their relationship builds after that event, with Lex being Clark’s window of advice for things bigger than the farm and Clark providing Lex with that glimmer of friendship and trust that he never received.
Despite that, Lex, through the duration of the season, focuses on finding out about the events of the crash and how Clark wasn’t hurt at all. He believes that he should have died in the impact but simply didn’t because of Clark. He uses several people at his disposal to discover the reason behind the crash but continuously drops the subject in order to preserve his relationship with the Kent’s. While all this happens, he develops a much stronger relationship with Lana Lang, the girl who was left behind in the comics. Their relationship deepens as it becomes clear that they both have fallen for each other, however Lana is dating Whitney, star football quarterback at their high school.
Clark spends his time at the school newspaper with his friends, Chloe Sullivan and Pete Ross. Of the two, Chloe is the only character that never appeared in a Superman comic and was created solely for the purpose of this show. She is the editor at The Torch, said newspaper, and does everything in her power to attain an internship at the Metropolis Daily Planet, conveniently where Clark Kent will be a reporter at in the future. Clark doesn’t necessarily show an interest in journalism this early on but the show does capture his research skills and his competency in the major.
Each episode acts sort of like a ‘monster of the week’ type of deal with every episode capturing a different antagonist and how Clark has to put justice in front of all else. In almost every case, the antagonist’s anatomy was somehow disrupted by the meteor rocks, (an early rendition of what I assume will be later known as Kryptonite), and possess some kind of powers.Clark finds out very early that the meteor rocks make his sick and that he has to find alternate ways of defeating these enemies without making it seem as though he is more than what he appears to be. Several people begin to discover his secret, namely those who work for Lex, but they never manage to pass on the information to him.
Each episode develops his sense of selflessness just a bit more while mixing in a flair of teenage angst that you would believe and high school boy has. He disobeys his parents, he speaks out for what he believes in, and he goes out; leaving Martha and Jonathan Kent to fear for the son’s secret. There are no glimpses of Superman, aside form very under the radar jokes and a few references, but the season does act as a incredible beginning to the life of the Superman that we all know today.
Smallville’s first season acts as more than just the beginning of Clark Kent’s life as Superman. It acts as a sort of coming of age for him and it is the first step towards developing the nobility that the Superman we all know has. It’s very present this early on in the series, considering the ten seasons and the eleventh season comic book, but it is very clear that this Clark Kent is the embodiment of more than just a powerful human but an average teenager. The show features an incredible soundtrack and incredible acting, despite a few awkward stands and visible special effects, but great nonetheless. It is a show that any unabashed comic book fan should definitely watch before it is off of Hulu.