• Sat. Apr 1st, 2023

Superman & Lois continues DC incompetency

ByMichael Manny

Aug 3, 2022

After two seasons of speculation and confusion, the recent season finale of The CW’s Superman & Lois finally gave a definitive answer to its biggest questions.

Does Superman & Lois take place in the Arrowverse?

Not really. 

In June 28’s season two finale, Dylan Walsh’s Sam Lane, the former head of the United States Department of Defense, explained it to his grandsons Jordan and Jonathan.

“I’ve been working for the DOD for a long time,” Lane said. “I’ve seen things you would not believe — glimpses of other worlds and the leagues of superheroes they have on them. And even though we only have your father on this planet, thank god that we do, because he’s the finest of any Earth.” 

And with that, Superman & Lois officially separated itself from Earth Prime. This is further confirmation that the versions of Tyler Hoechlin’s Superman and Elizabeth Tulloch’s Lois Lane that were seen on Supergirl are not the same as the characters we see on Superman & Lois. 

The CW now has DC Comics shows on three different Earths, with Superman & Lois undesignated, The Flash on Earth Prime and Stargirl taking place on a new Earth 2. The Flash‘s final season, airing next year, will mark the end of the Arrowverse.

In the months leading up to the season two finale, Superman & Lois showrunner Todd Helbig teased that fans would find out “where we all fit in everything,” and receive an answer to the series’ timeline. After the finale, he gave further clarity. 

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Helbig said they originally planned for the show to be part of the Arrowverse, until the COVID-19 pandemic complicated plans for a crossover with “Batwoman.”

“At some point in season one I had a conversation with DC, and we clearly wanted to put our own stamp on the show and our take on the Superman mythology,” Helbig said. “The original intent was to be part of the Arrowverse, but the further along we got and now, unfortunately, with the other shows being off the air, it just felt like the best decision was to have our Superman & Lois not be on the same Earth as the Arrowverse.”

Helbig later said in the interview that it was DC’s decision to wait until the season two finale to confirm it, not his. 

It is unclear when this decision was made. However, season one gives several indications that it was not. In the show’s original pilot script that leaked online, there are references to Grant Gustin’s Flash, Supergirl and life changes resulting from 2019’s “Crisis On Infinite Earths” crossover. Helbig also revealed last year that a picture of Melissa Benoist’s Kara Danvers/Supergirl with the Kent family was cut from the pilot. Plus, Arrow alumni David Ramsey made a cameo appearance as his character John Diggle. 

In the scene, Diggle references fighting alongside Superman, as well as Stephen Amell’s Oliver Queen/Green Arrow and others. It is unclear whether Diggle was talking about the same Oliver from Earth Prime. One assumption is that he was referring to the other members of the Arrowverse’s Justice League formed at the end of Crisis — Black Lightning, White Canary, Batwoman, The Flash, Supergirl and Martian Manhunter. 

Diggle also makes a passing reference to a glowing green box he found in the series finale of Arrow. The box’s design seemed to allude to a Green Lantern ring, a storyline that played out across Batwoman, The Flash and Supergirl over the past two years. 

It’s understandable that real-world circumstances such as COVID-19 got in the way of greater connectivity between the shows in the beginning. Just as it is that S&L wanted to put their own spin on the Superman mythos. Most of the Arrowverse is also off the air now, something that was not the case just two years ago.

The problem is the lack of communication regarding its setting. Real world circumstances aside, why did DC decide and the producers change their mind so late to begin with?  The show could have followed what Stargirl, a fellow CW DC show, did by announcing that the show was not on Earth Prime. 

Instead, it appears that the show led Arrowverse fans along for two seasons, hinting, but not providing a definitive answer. 

John Diggle’s appearance, and the connectivity it created, makes the decision look like it was a recent retcon, rather than a planned decision. Placing the show on a different Earth, while having Diggle appear and reference his ongoing Arrowverse storyline, makes zero sense.

There is no problem with the show itself. The show has done an outstanding job showing Superman in a light we have not seen in live action. And just as he did in Supergirl, Hoechlin perfectly captures the spirit of what Superman should be — a symbol of hope and optimism for all — much better than any film has in some time. Tulloch has also continued to be fantastic as Lois. 

What does not make sense is DC not allowing the producers to announce sooner that the show is not set on Earth Prime, if that truly was the case. Though DC is not intentionally trying to hurt fans with their decisions, it almost feels a bit disrespectful to fans that have supported the Arrowverse for a decade to leave them hanging for two seasons. 

If DC made up their mind about this sooner, not only would Arrowverse fans have not been led on, it would have made the show less confusing to watch. Week after week, things happened in Superman & Lois that contradicted storylines and events established in Supergirl. Though The Flash and other Earth Prime shows mentioned Clark, Superman & Lois never mentioned Kara or any of Clark’s other “Superfriends.”

The CW is now up for sale, with the buyer rumored to be cable TV station giant Nexstar. In different circumstances, perhaps the Arrowverse would be celebrating its 10th anniversary this year with another crossover event. Instead, it will end next year with The Flash, likely without a special finale. 

If Batwoman and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow‘s cancellation did not signal the end, this decision does. When “Crisis on Infinite Earths” brought all of The CW’s heroes together on one Earth, the crossover potential was beyond exciting. Now, the potential story beats, from the new Justice League, to Diggle becoming a Green Lantern, are left hollow.

The Arrowverse broke new ground and changed the live action TV superhero game forever. It created a unique universe more connective than any other in its medium. As great as Superman and Lois is, and as perfect as Hoechlin and Tulloch are, DC’s television live-action universe has no satisfying conclusion. Though this is understandably due in part to COVID-19. It still is a disappointment.