6 Times Smallville Improved Superman Mythology (& 4 Times It Failed)

A lookback at a generation's contribution to Superman.

Smallville Clark Kent Lex Luthor
The CW

At 80-years-old Superman is showing no signs of stagnation. The difference between modern mythology such as his, and classic mythology like Achilles, is that Superman adapts to the times. Each generation adds its own touches that expand and enrich the story. This occurs in tellings of Superman across a range of various mediums.

It was the 1940s radio series that gave us Kryptonite, Jimmy Olsen, and his catchphrase "Up, up, and away!". Superman: The Movie debuted a crystalline version of the Fortress of Solitude, which has frequently been incorporated into future versions. Some changes, like making Clark a TV anchorman in the 1970s comics, simply fade away. The less said about his 1990s mullet the better.

2001's Smallville was the biggest modernization to the character's origin yet. The series conceived a number of innovations that may well last the test of time, but of course, not every idea over the course of 218 stories is going to stick.

10. Improved: The Meteor Shower

Smallville Clark Kent Lex Luthor

This was a beautiful way of making Kal-El's arrival even more epic while also solving some modern-day logic problems associated with his origin. It also provided a wealth of future storytelling options. When Superman was created in 1938 it was entirely possible that an alien ship, allowing for the possibility of the existence of UFOs, could land undetected in the American heartland.

Modern technology, from military surveillance to a culture where everyone walks around with a camera, makes the possibility of the rocket sneaking in highly unlikely. This could be rationalized with a throwaway line to a cloaking device, but that sort of technicality would be underwhelming for a story with such strong mythological elements. The rocket being obscured by a Kryptonite meteor shower explains how the last Son of Krypton was able to become the Kents' secret, and adds another layer of grandeur to his arrival. It also helps propel his story forward in several ways.

The meteor shower helps reinforce his need to help his community from even a young age because of his feelings of guilt for the havoc his arrival brought. It also solves how the bad guys get Kryptonite so easily. The glowing rock has been in a thorn in Superman's side for years in the comics with no explanation for how it was so readily available. The additional new twist of Kryptonite's potential to mutate human DNA provided many threats for the teenage Clark to face in the absence of traditional super-villains in Smallville.


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