After a long hiatus, the Arrowverse is surging back in a big way in 2021. We just met new Batwoman Ryan Wilder in the Batwoman: Season 2 premiere, and The CW will be kicking off a brand new Arrowverse series soon. Superman & Lois is a Supergirl spinoff that finally puts the Man of Steel and his family in the spotlight.
Assuming you haven’t been keeping up with Supergirl in recent years, you might be a little confused about the plot of Superman & Lois. Since when do Lois and Clark have teenage sons? Why don’t they seem to know their dad is Superman? Is Superman & Lois a flash-forward series? Read on for a full breakdown of what this new series is about and how it fits into the larger Arrowverse lineup.
Superman in the Arrowverse: The Story So Far
It’s probably safe to assume some DC fans will be tuning into the series premiere of Superman & Lois not having watched an episode of Supergirl, or possibly any Arrowverse series at all. After all, the Man of Steel carries a superhero name cache second only to a certain pointy-eared detective. With that in mind, it’s probably best to start by recapping Superman’s role in the Arrowverse up until now.
Surprisingly, Superman hasn’t actually played a huge role in this shared TV universe so far. In fact, he never even put in a proper appearance during the first season of Supergirl. He was more of an offscreen presence in Season 1, appearing mainly via text messages to his cousin Kara or as a background figure or shadowy silhouette. The series established early on that Superman has been protecting the citizens of Metropolis for years, but his story has always been secondary to that of Supergirl. It wasn’t until the Season 2 premiere and the shift from CBS to The CW that Tyler Hoechlin was cast as Superman and the character began playing a true supporting role in the series. Even still, Hoechlin has only appeared in a handful of episodes to date.
Whether because the show’s writers didn’t want Superman to overshadow Supergirl, or because Warner Bros. used to be very stingy about allowing multiple live-action incarnations of popular heroes to exist simultaneously, Superman has always been kept to the side in the Arrowverse. The same goes for most of the traditional Superman supporting cast, apart from Mehcad Brooks’ James Olsen. It should also be noted Jon Cryer’s Lex Luthor has slowly developed into Supergirl’s scene-stealing main antagonist. The Arrowverse has also featured two other Supermen, with Brandon Routh and Tom Welling both reprising their roles as part of the massive ensemble cast in the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover.
Clearly, with the announcement of Superman & Lois, Warner Bros. is eager to finally capitalize on Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch’s versions of those characters. And as it happens, their relatively low profile in the Arrowverse feeds directly into the premise of this spinoff. In recent years, Lois and Clark’s absence has usually been justified with the explanation they’re spending time together on Argo City, a cosmic refuge for the last surviving Kryptonians. Like Batman (who’s been keeping an even lower profile), the Arrowverse’s Superman has been around for a long time. Clark seems generally eager to let a younger generation of heroes shoulder the burden while he devotes time to his family, stopping by only to participate in the occasional crossover or season finale storyline.
That family has quietly been growing in recent seasons. Lois gave birth to a son, Jonathan, shortly before the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths. Among the many bizarre changes introduced in the final chapter of Crisis, that single son has suddenly become twin boys. Superman & Lois is basically the story of the duo embracing parenthood, moving back to Smallville and doing their best to raise their now teenage sons, Jon (Jordan Elsass) and Jordan (Alexander Garfin). Parenthood is rough on anyone, but it’s especially tough for a couple who are more used to fighting off alien invaders and writing Pulitzer-worthy scoops. Nor is it any easier to navigate the pressures of high school after discovering your dad is the world’s most beloved superhero.
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Who Are Jon and Jordan Kent?
Wait, they’re teenagers now? When did that happen? Does this mean Superman & Lois is taking place in the future?
Frankly, we don’t have definitive answers to those questions yet. It’s unclear what exactly has transpired between Lois and Clark’s last Arrowverse appearance in 2020 and the premiere of Superman & Lois. Like most current Arrowverse shows, production on Supergirl: Season 5 was cut short due to the pandemic. It’s entirely possible those unfinished final episodes were intended to directly set the stage for this spinoff. We won’t really know until that series returns for its final run of episodes later in 2021.
It is worth noting that the Superman comics have their own track record of mucking about with the DC timeline in order to give Superman a teenage son. While Jordan Kent appears to be an original character created specifically for the Arrowverse, Jon has taken on a very prominent role in DC’s comic book line in recent years, whether in the pages of Superman, as a member of the futuristic Legion of Super Heroes or in his frequent “Super Sons” team-ups with Robin.
We don’t want to get too deep into Jon’s complex origin story, but suffice it to say the TV series seems to be drawing heavily from books like 2015’s Superman: Lois & Clark and the DC Rebirth Superman series, both of which deal heavily with Superman’s struggles to keep a low profile and raise a super-powered son. In those books Jon is depicted as being around 10. However, after embarking on a time travel adventure with his grandfather Jor-El (yes, he’s still alive), Jon winds up aging several years off-page and returning home as a teenager. It’s one of many examples of superhero comics finding ways of aging up younger characters without doing the same for their parents (e.g., X-Men’s Cyclops and his ridiculously convoluted family tree).
It’s entirely possible Superman & Lois will rely on a similar plot twist to quickly age Jon and Jordan without pushing Lois and Clark into senior citizen territory. After all, the series gives no indication it’s set in the future. If anything, it seems very rooted in the here and now and the struggles of being a parent in today’s wonky social and economic climate. Plus, neither Superman nor Lois appear any older here than they did in previous Arrowverse appearances. Though in Clark’s case, he’s not unlike Wolverine in that his powers ensure he ages much slower than ordinary humans.
Further complicating matters, the trailer makes it clear Jon and Jordan are only just now discovering their father is Superman. It’s one thing to send both brothers on a wild time caper inspired by the comics, but how do you introduce that sort of larger-than-life element without either brother catching wind of the fact their father is Superman? Again, the series surely has some way of explaining away all these questions, but we’ll just have to wait for the premiere to learn how it all fits together. Let’s just assume the Phantom Zone is to blame and move on.
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Do Jon and Jordan Kent Have Powers?
However the series chooses to explain the idea of a youthful Lois and Clark raising teenage sons, the real question is how these two characters fit into the larger Arrowverse puzzle. Do they have superhuman powers like their father? Is the series basically a riff on Smallville, with Clark himself now playing the father figure to hormonal, super-powered sons? And why give Lois and Clark twin boys when traditionally Jon is an only child?
Assuming the series follows the source material at all, we’ll probably see Jon begin to manifest powers as the series opens. In the comics, he has a similar array of abilities – super-strength, invulnerability, heat vision, flight, etc. Once those powers begin to appear, Jon quickly takes up the mantle of Superboy. In fact, the recent Future State crossover shows Jon is destined to one day inherit his father’s mantle as Superman. His unique human/Kryptonian biology gives him the potential to become even more powerful than Clark.
But what of Jordan? Again, this character has no clear analogue in the comics, so it remains to be seen exactly how he fits into this family dynamic. However, what little we know about the character so far suggests some intriguing storytelling possibilities. Jordan is both more intelligent and more socially aloof than his twin. Even physically, he looks different and less all-American from the rest of his family, and we imagine that’s no coincidence. The series could focus a great deal on Jordan’s struggle to fit in, both as a member of Superman’s nuclear family and in the small town Smallville setting. What if Jon begins manifesting powers and Jordan doesn’t? What does that do to their relationship? Could Jordan wind up becoming the Lex Luthor to Jon’s Superman? That certainly seems like the foundation of a meaty family conflict. Plus, it’s always possible we’ll learn there’s more to Jordan’s spontaneous birth than meets the eye.
The series will also introduce other challenges for the Kent family. For example, Wolé Parks plays a character called The Stranger who’s intent on proving the world doesn’t need a Superman. Ruthless real estate magnate Morgan Edge will also make the jump from Supergirl (though Adam Rayner is taking over the role from Adrian Pasdar), which probably means bad things for anyone who owns property in Smallville.
Will Green Lantern Be in Superman & Lois?
One of the biggest potential selling points of Superman & Lois doesn’t actually involve the Man of Steel or his family. It’s believed the series will also finally put the Green Lantern Corps into the Arrowverse spotlight at long last.
The road to Green Lantern has certainly been a long one. Arrow quietly teased the possibility in its early seasons through Easter eggs like a glimpse of Hal Jordan’s flight jacket in a Coast City bar. Later, Arrow’s seventh season finally confirmed a long-standing fan theory that Oliver Queen’s former bodyguard-turned-superhero John Diggle is actually named John Diggle Stewart. Finally, Arrow’s series finale ended with a major Green Lantern tease. As Diggle and his family are packing up to move to Metropolis, he’s interrupted by the arrival of a glowing green object from space.
Given that Diggle is moving to Superman’s neck of the woods in the aftermath of Ollie’s heroic sacrifice, fans have naturally been assuming Green Lantern John Stewart will play a supporting role in Superman & Lois. Though there is one hitch – the series is set in Smallville, not Metropolis. Still, with actor David Ramsey set to appear in and direct episodes of five Arrowverse series this year, it certainly seems as though Diggle’s evolution from bodyguard to full-fledged Green Lantern is nearly complete.
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