When it comes to superhero media, the contemporary preoccupation with everything deconstructed, sensational, edgy, and crass has nearly obliviated the appreciation for morals, tender feelings, emotional sincerity, a sense of wonder, inspirational narratives, and relatability—the very basic elements that contributed to the globalized appeal of the genre through the ages. This contributed to the greatest fictional character being interpreted as a nihilistic, messianic figure (read Zack Snyder’s version) and the obvious outcry resulting in his exile from the live-action scene for almost half a decade. It wasn’t until “Superman & Lois” aired on the CW network in 2021 that fans could actually claim to have gotten a modern iteration of the character on par with the late great Sir Christopher Reeve’s portrayal of the Man of Steel. In fact, “Superman & Lois” did a seemingly impossible task that only a couple of Superman media adaptations have managed to do, i.e., striking a perfect balance between the assuring, inspiring symbol of positivity and at the same time highlighting his relevance in an age where deceit, egocentrism, jingoism, apathy, and hatred have torn humanity apart more than ever. As the third season of this masterclass of a series starts airing tomorrow, we will try to help the readers catch up with the established narrative as well as inform them of what to expect from the upcoming season.
‘Superman & Lois’ Season 1 And 2: Recap
It was speculated that “Superman & Lois” would be a spin-off of the CW’s “Supergirl” and thereby be connected to the larger Arrowverse. But since the pilot episode, the showrunners have made it clear that it will establish its own canon, with a few references to Arrowverse sprinkled here and there. This, in turn, allowed more creative freedom for the makers as well.
Renowned comic-book writer Grant Morrison summed up the core of Superman’s origin in a single page, with four panels and four lines. Almost similarly, the pilot episode of “Superman & Lois” sums up the most well-known origin story within minutes. We meet Superman, aka Clark Kent, and Lois Lane as they deal with the responsibility of parenthood, having teenage twins Jonathan and Jordan to look after. After Clark’s adoptive mother, Martha, passes away after suffering a heart attack, Clark visits his hometown of Smallville and reconnects with his childhood friend Lana Lang and her husband, Kyle. Later, Clark loses his job at the Daily Planet in Metropolis due to layoffs under the new management of industrialist Morgan Edge. At Smallville, the boys discover Clark’s spaceship in the barn at their Smallville home, Clark has no choice but to reveal his secret identity to them. Soon, Jordan’s Kryptonian powers inherited from his father start showing up, and the Lane-Kent family shifts to Smallville to allow Jordan some much-needed cover from the outside world. After Lois’ expose of Edge turns into a puff piece, she quits her job at the Daily Planet too. She joins the Smallville Gazette and befriends the editor, Chrissy Beppo.
Lois’ father, Sam Lane, the director of the Department of Defense, has a conflicting relationship with Clark, who is part of his family, and he still can’t fully trust Clark due to his alien lineage and his own responsibility for his country, which becomes an apple of discord between Lois and him. Morgan Edge is seriously investing in Shuster mines to harvest X-Kryptonite, a mineral that imbues people with Kryptonian powers. Amidst all this, an unknown stranger appears in his exosuit and attacks Superman a number of times. Later, it is revealed that the stranger is an individual named John Henry Irons, whose Earth was ravaged by an evil version of Superman, and his wife, Lois Lane of that particular Earth, was killed by the evil Superman. After a number of altercations with Clark and being convinced of his goodwill, Irons befriends Clark. However, Morgan Edge reveals himself to be Kal El’s half-brother, Tal-Rho, whose journey on Earth was in total contrast to that of Clark’s, which led him in his efforts to eradicate humanity by creating a New Krypton. At the end of the first season, Clark manages to defeat Tal, and just as they are about to celebrate the success, John Henry Irons’ teenage daughter, Natalie, makes her way to them after jumping through the dimensional barrier in her ship. The first season ends with confusion on the part of Natalie, who mistook Prime Earth’s Lois Lane for her mother.
In the second season, “Superman & Lois” veers to Lois’ past, as her troublesome relationship with her sister has led to a minor fabrication to incriminate a cult leader named Ally Allston. Also, Lois has a hard time wrapping her head around this different Earth’s visitor, Henry Iron’s daughter Natalie’s presence, as she had almost named her kid, whom she miscarried years ago, Natalie. Meanwhile, after Sam steps down from his role as director of DOD, his protégé Anderson takes the reins. Clark’s unwillingness to prioritize his country instead of humanity leads to him being in direct conflict with Anderson, who orders a superteam to be made from the X-kryptonite victims—those whose allegiance will lie with America alone.
Clark starts having painful episodes and visions as an unknown threat starts making its way through Shuster Mines. As it unearths itself and goes on a killing spree, it is revealed to be a distorted, inverse version of Superman, known in the comics as Bizarro. As Clark’s powers get nullified due to the pendant Bizarro wears, he finds it tough to square off with the being. After Anderson calls his team to tackle Bizarro, which results in the deaths of two of them, Clarks springs back into action, but Irons, who tries to act as a helping aid, gets severely injured during the battle. Later, Superman gets to learn from his Bizarro self how the other self of Ally Allyston in his Bizarro world wreaked havoc using the pendant of hers, and if her two selves, one in prime Earth and another in Bizarro Earth, get combined, there will be no stopping her. An X-Kryptonite-powered Anderson seeks revenge on Superman for not complying with military dictates and kills the Bizarro Superman in rage. Later, he presents the Prime Earth version of Ally with the pendant he gathered earlier from Bizarro Superman, and Ally journeys to the mines with her team and Anderson, as it is revealed the mines have become a dimensional breach.
After the deaths of both versions of Anderson at Ally’s hands, Superman confronts a merged version of Ally and gets his powers completely siphoned out, and the series cleverly introduces the popular Superman villain Parasite through the character of Ally Allyston. As Ally proceeds to merge the pendent with the one in Bizarro World, the two worlds start merging into a singular existence, and the risk of mass genocide on an unimaginable scale looms larger. Irons and his daughter Natalie close the dimensional breach by exploding their space pod inside it but get trapped inside the vastness of the dimensional gateway. Throughout the season, Superman tried to reform his half-brother Tal Rho in various ways, which haven’t changed him totally but at least softened him up enough to assist in one final task. Tal Rho takes the depowered Man of Steel and throws him at the core of the sun. In an awesome display of powers, a supercharged Superman saves the day by rescuing Irons and Natalie, separating both selves of Allie, and exerting his excess energy by releasing a solar flare to separate both Earths. In the end, after Tal Rho seeks refuge in Bizarro World and Clark creates a new Fortress of Solitude for his family in the sea, ever prepared for new adventures with his family by his side.
What Can Be Expected From The Third Season?
In the third season, “Superman & Lois” will finally introduce the series’ version of Superman’s archenemy, Lex Luthor, and Michael Cudlitz will play the character. The supervillain Bruno Mannheim will play an important role in the season as an Intergang leader, and the presence of Intergang always excites fans for the possibility of a Jack Kirby’s New Gods reference or appearance, at least in future seasons, if not in this one. In the last season’s finale, we came to know that Bruno Mannheim had killed Prime Earth’s version of John Henry Irons, and perhaps this season will throw some light on the context.