Some of the key players from the fan-favorite series Smallville showed up at New York Comic Con’s virtual event on Saturday to celebrate the show’s upcoming 20th anniversary (the young Clark Kent tale debuted on October 16, 2001). Read on for the highlights from the panelists’ trip down meteor-rock memory lane, and be sure to also check out our preview of the NYCC 2020 panels we’re most excited about.
Tom Welling (Clark Kent), Michael Rosenbaum (Lex Luthor), Sam Witwer (Davis Bloome/Doomsday), and Laura Vandervoort (Kara/Supergirl) all took part in the “20 Years of Fandom, Friendship and Flying” panel, which was moderated by Garrett Wang (Star Trek: Voyager).
Welling spoke about first learning he had gotten the lead role in the show, and how even then he was resistant to the idea that he was playing “Superman” rather than Clark Kent. This would inform his mindset throughout the course of Smallville, and apparently it still does.
“I remember telling my parents that I got this role, the lead in Smallville,” Welling laughed. “And my mom was like, ‘Wait, so you’re Superman.’ And I go, ‘No, no, no. I’m not Superman. I’m Clark Kent.’ She goes, ‘But that’s Superman.’ ‘No, no, no. It’s not Superman yet.’ And that was something that carried on for me and still carries on, where people are like, ‘Hey Superman.’ And I’m like, ‘Ah, no, but yeah… no.’ So it was one of those things.”
Rosenbaum, who left the show after the seventh season (but returned for the series finale), spoke about how his character evolved over the years, and how it became increasingly difficult to sustain Lex over the course of the show’s long run.
“The development, I felt like — I have ADD,” the actor explained. “So it’s very hard to imagine seven years of doing the freaking same character. So in the beginning, I was like, ‘Nice.’ And then like, ‘A moment of a flashback!’ And then all of a sudden, Season 3, I’m in a straight-jacket going crazy! And then all of a sudden, I’m fine again for a season! So there was… it’s hard, again, for the writers and creators to write 22 episodes a year. And you’re going to get a couple of gems, some decent ones, and some that you can just throw under the rug. But for me, I think by the seventh season, or maybe before that, I was like, ‘I’m ready to just explode and be done.'”
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When put that way, it’s perhaps not surprising that Rosenbaum chose to leave the series when he did. But he said Tom Welling did have one “great” idea for an episode that never happened and that he wishes they could’ve gotten the chance to do.
“I didn’t want to stretch it out,” he said. “And I just felt like you have to. But I felt like we could have… You know, Tom always says the great episode would have been if I got his powers, and he got my brains or some shit like that. That would have been an awesome episode! Because we did a ‘Lexmas’ [episode] where Lex is good in this other world, married Lana, and has a child. You can see the sweetness that it could have been. So I would have loved to do something like that. But I think they did the best they could. And I think there were glimpses of greatness. But remember, it’s not movie where you start out good, and then like the Joker [explain] this is why he became bad. It’s like, he has two hours. We have thousands of hours. So anyway, it was still cool. I don’t have any regrets or anything.”
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It’s actually surprising that Smallville never did a Clark/Lex power swap. In fact, imagine if it had been a multi-episode story or even a full-season arc, with Clark brought low and having to resort to more creative means to defeat his enemies while Lex… well, let’s face it. Lex would’ve been flying within a couple of days and probably ruling the world inside a week.
It could’ve been cool! Also cool, and a lot of fun, is the full Smallville NYCC panel, which you can check out here. The friendship among the group, especially Welling and Rosenbaum, is palpable.