What is it about heroes that we admire so much in this modern day culture? Is it that they give us a certain hope from the challenges that we face or take place in our everyday lives or that we just feel the need sometimes to be saved by another? It boils down to the heart and the fascinating things it can do to overcome obstacles because it’s not the weapon that fights the fight, it’s just the heart, beat by beat. Heroes are those who understand their responsibilities that come with freedom and decide to find their inner strength to persevere and endure in spite of overpowering difficulties. They are made in that moment, not from questioning the past or fearing what’s to come.
A hero that we all know, probably too well would have to be the fictional comic book superhero, Superman who first appeared in publication in 1938 by Detective Comics, later known as DC Comics. Widely considered to be an American cultural icon, the “Man of Steel” was created in 1932 by Cleveland’s Jerry Siegel and Toronto’s, Joe Shuster and made the hero’s mark on the world subsequently appearing in various radio serials, television programs, films, newspaper strips and video games. With the success and establishment of the emerging world meeting such a hero, the superhero genre was soon created.
The mythology of Superman and his alter ego, Clark Kent tells the tale of young Kal-El who was born on the planet Krypton before being rocketed to Earth as an infant by his scientist father, Jor-El and his mother, Lara, moments before the planet’s destruction. Kal-El, who lay in a pod was discovered and adopted by a Kansas farmer, Jonathan Kent and his wife, Martha who raised the child as their own, naming him Clark. Imbuing him with a strong moral compass, the young Clark started to display superhuman abilities in his adolescence and would ultimately grow into the man, Jor-El knew he would be: “Earth’s greatest saviour”.
Tonight, after 10 years of being well-acquainted with the mild-mannered Clark Kent of The CW’s network’s Smallville, audiences will see the boy wonder meet his ultimate destiny and have to say their goodbyes in a two-hour series finale that will be hard to watch. Well, it’ll be hard for me to watch, partially because I grew up with the show and it became a staple in my household. I remember sitting on the couch in the family room, watching the show while doing homework and occasionally not engaging well with my studies and ended up adding words like, “Clark” or “Kryptonite” into my essays and book reports much to my teachers’ chagrin.
What’s so appealing about Superman? He isn’t just the symbol for hope and a brighter future. He’s a lot like us and I think growing up, that’s what made him my favourite fictional character because he makes mistakes, he wears his heart on his sleeve when making decisions and most importantly, he’s thinking about others because he cares about people and it shows through his actions. Clark Kent, pre-Superman is a man of gold and he’s someone who believes there is good in all of us and that change, doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing in this world. It’s something that can form a better future and create a life we do want to achieve.
When the show Smallville first premiered in 2001, I was sceptical. I grew up on the Christopher Reeve films and I was that 16 year-old in high school whose last real experience with Superman was in the form of ABC’s Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and that was really it for me. I didn’t think it could be done again and in the form of a young Clark Kent being this “teenager” and with the way television studios portray the whole teen-genre, post-90210, I was apprehensive of this new vision in the form of Smallville. I didn’t want Siegel and Shuster’s vision to be glorified into another pointless high school network drama. However, I watched it and decided to give it a chance and it soon became one of my favourite nights of the week!
Clark Kent wasn’t just the last son of Krypton. Growing up in Smallville, he appeared to be a lot like us. He was average. He was a dork. He didn’t fit in. He got looked at differently. He was in love with the popular girl. He had that teen angst and was growing into his own before figuring out his true identity. He was just a regular teenager. When we’re kids, we just have to figure out what can be done at that moment and soon it’ll culminate into our future plans. Clark, as that adolescent teenager never figured one day he’d be “The Man of Tomorrow” wearing that distinct and iconic blue, red and yellow costume, complete with a cape, stylized with an “S” shield on his chest. He’s a lot like, all of us and that was the beauty of this show. His abilities didn’t ever define who he was. His actions did as did the love and encouragement of his parents, the support system he found with friends – that was what created and formed Clark Kent’s big heart.
After ten years and many obstacles and the many shades of kryptonite, Clark Kent will finally dive into becoming Superman in the episode, simply titled “Finale” leaving the rest to our imagination. It’s just a matter of hours until the series finale airs on The CW later tonight and it’s important to not forget about the past decade that has brought us to this point. The two-hour swan song dives into the unfinished business with regards to the “darkness” and Darkseid which has affected Oliver Queen, The Green Arrow as well as a possible wedding in the works and Clark meeting an old “friend”.
I’m going to miss this show, immensely. It isn’t just a show, really. It’s something that was such a constant in my life and lasting a decade, that’s huge. Oh boy, has time flown by -- pun intended! I have never stuck that long with a show and it just goes to prove that the writing each time improved and built up from the last, and the quality of performances gave exactly what was asked of. The show had adventure, thrill, romance and comedy, especially within the relationship between Lois and Clark. It was exciting to watch them banter and understand each other from that foundation of friendship that they had first built over the years and from their first meeting in the fourth season as Lois stumbles across a naked Clark in the fields. Another part of Smallville that I am sure many will miss and it’s a testament to the writing, is the philosophy behind life and the greater picture we each hold within it.
The executive producers, Kelly Souders and Brian Peterson wrote a letter to fans expressing how important and vital they were to the show’s history over the past decade. The final season of Smallville was shaped by every instance over the years and followed the theme of “hope” to sum up everything, especially in a world like today’s. Souders and Peterson go onto saying that heroes exist and aren’t just in red capes which is why this season’s show proved that ideal more than anything and tonight’s finale will definitely tune into that. Souders and Peterson added in their letter how lucky they’ve been, sitting with the writers and thinking about Superman everyday.
“We got to think about what inspires us. Think about why Superman is the most recognizable character in the world. Think about the most avid fans in television and the reason they tune in every week—not only do they want to believe in good, they actually do. Someone once said that you can only truly appreciate in others what you have the potential for in yourself. Superheroes are a reflection of who we want to become. Whatever impact we've had on the Superman mythos, it pales compared to the impact the fans of Superman across the globe have had on us. It's what makes us believe there's a more peaceful future out there. Being reminded of that every week for a decade has been a gift.”
The show has brought us brilliant moments and provided us with amazing talent in the likes of Tom Welling, Erica Durance, Justin Hartley, Cassidy Freeman, Allison Mack, Kristin Kreuk and Michael Rosenbaum along with Laura Vanderoot, Callum Blue, Annette O'Toole, John Schneider, John Glover and the many others who have left their mark over the years. It’s a great show and it evolved into something quite astounding year by year, especially after the departure of Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, which some fans were nervous about. There is a certain maturity in these past few seasons leading the story into another vision of how Superman will go about his destiny.
So, as the hours near, fans alike will be gearing up and gathering around their television sets once again to watch the conclusion of one of the greatest stories told and it’ll be very bittersweet. It’s a big moment in pop culture as one of the longest running shows is coming to a close. Sure, I’d love to see more Smallville over the years and see Clark don the suit and cape but I also believe there is a time and place for everything to end and begin its next chapter. The CW hasn’t been very successful in trying to bring other DC heroes to the small screen as Smallville has set a precedent for future heroes on television. This very well could be the end of an era.
There will be many moments to look forward to tonight. One of them being, will we finally see Clark in his costume flying off as Superman? All season we’ve been teased with faded images of the suit and future-Superman flying high above the city. It’d make for a great ending if we do but if not, I’m sure we’ll still all be glad to have been part of such a story.
The two-hour series finale of Smallville airs tonight at 8PM on The CW. Check your local listings.