There’s a moment in the most recent episode of Smallville that took my breath away and put a big smile on my face. It’s one of those moments that pushes my Gee-Whiz buttons and tugs at the heartstrings of my inner child.
I was thinking recently about how Smallville, now in its tenth and final season, will be on TV longer than any other Superman show. And then I read this blog post that blew my mind by showing how Smallville will end up with more hours of screen time than all other Superman TV shows and movies combined. Reading that blog post also made me think about how I like the show a whole lot more than the author of the post. In fact, looking back over the show, even admitting that it’s had its ups and downs, its share of lame episodes and story arcs, I have to admit I really, really love Smallville.
One of the problems with superhero movies is that so much time is spent on the origin of the hero and/or the villain, the rest of the story can suffer. There are obvious exceptions, but even Superman: The Movie, which I love with great passion, suffers a bit from too much origin and too much “Superman vs. Lex Luthor” crammed into one movie. Smallville, on the other hand, has presented the origin of Superman in long-form, weaving the big events in with shorter stories and story arcs. It’s allowed people to enjoy the story of how Clark Kent became Superman while incorporating greater character development, twistier plotlines, and loads of action and adventure. It’s grown in a really satisfying way from “freak of the week” adventure/teen soap opera into a daft and epic story with cosmic bad guys, global threats, time travel, secret societies, ancient conspiracies, cryptic prophecies & extraterrestrial weirdness. It’s made Clark Kent, Lois Lane and Lex Luthor (in particular) into fun, compelling characters.
Sure, it’s deviated a lot from traditional Superman comics canon, but in a way that’s actually made the series more fun. Yes, the show has been dark and moody at times, but it’s always managed to keep the bright, optimistic feeling, so important to the story of Superman, at its core. No matter how bad things have gotten, Clark Kent has always come back to being an optimistic person who wants to reform rather than defeat.
And for a lifelong superhero comics fan like me, the last few seasons in particular have been fantastic, as the producers and writers have introduced more bits of old-school DC Comics–the Toyman, the Legion of Super-Heroes, the Justice Society of America, Checkmate, the Suicide Squad, Darkseid–and had Geoff Johns write some terrific episodes.
This season has started out really strong, and while a part of me is sad to see the show go, I’m very excited to see how it all wraps up. Honestly, when Smallville first started, as much as I liked it, I didn’t think it would last for 10 years. And I didn’t think I’d end up saying that in many ways, this is superheroes done right. But it really is.
And that is why I love Smallville.