The Arrowverse's latest in-development spin-off is Superman and Lois, which will make use of Tyler Hoechlin's Christopher Reeve-inspired portrayal of the Man of Steel - but the show will need to step out of that shadow in order to make its own mark. Hoechlin joined Greg Berlanti's massive DC TV franchise in 2016 as the latest actor to portray the iconic hero. Since the second season of Supergirl, Hoechlin has become a major favorite with fans and critics alike. The Superman presence then expanded last year with the introduction of Elizabeth Tulloch's Lois Lane in the Elseworlds crossover. Season 4 of Supergirl also introduced Clark Kent's greatest enemy, Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer.) With a demand for a Superman-centric series rising, The CW officially put a series centered on Clark and Lois into development.
In the upcoming Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover, Hoechlin and Tulloch's return will also feature the introduction of their child, the spinoff's third main character. Through Hoechlin's several appearances, the actor has garnered a positive reception for his version of Superman, and one of the consistent remarks has been how the Teen Wolf alum has kept the spirit of Reeve's Man of Tomorrow alive. For many fans all over the world, Reeve's iconic work as the character in his Superman franchise has been defined as the greatest version of the DC legend on-screen.
But as The CW is setting the stage for the next big chapter of Superman in live-action, the creative team has a big challenge to overcome. In order for Hoechlin's series to feel unique, the creative team needs to rely as little on the Reeve era as possible. What previous Superman franchises have done, such as Smallville, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and Man of Steel, is to honor the fullness of the character. Paying tribute to what has come before is different than basing a version on a past interpretation. While previous Superman actors like Cain, Welling, Cavill, and Routh may have honored Reeve's take, they still brought something fresh to the character.
Superman has evolved to great lengths in the last thirty years - whether it be in comics, television shows or movies. The essence of the Man of Steel, since his inception, is and always will be hope. Reeve's dedication and hard work in his films will always be recognized as an iconic chapter in pop culture. But as the character evolves with time, so does the way he is written and played, no matter the medium. For Hoechlin's Superman, the writers have been, in more ways than one, keeping it safe with Reeve's version being a major inspiration. Whenever a version of the hero has explored darker territories as a character, it's seen as "losing perspective" of what Superman is.
For fans of the character, it's Clark's dedication to seeing the best in humanity that is deeply loved. But expecting this character to always be perfect holds back his potential to grow. Someone as iconic as Superman needs stories where he faces complexity and challenges. With the Arrowverse clearly positioning this Man of Steel as one of the franchise's next leading heroes, the writers can't afford to be stuck too much in the past. Remembering what Reeve did for the character is an honorable tribute in itself, but bringing new layers and ideas to this character opens the door for refreshing stories that will let The CW's Superman show live for many seasons.