Since her introduction nearly 80 years ago, Lois Lane has been as integral to the legend of Superman as the Kryptonian hero himself. As an intrepid, whip smart reporter and sharp-tongued verbal sparring partner, Lois has always been more than just Clark Kent’s girl.
At times, she’s even been given a superheroic identity, whether it meant bearing the mantle of Superwoman, Red Tornado, or Krypton Girl. However, no matter the universe or canon, she has always been distinctly her own woman, all while being the great love of Superman’s many lives.
As Lois has been a crucial part of the DC comics canon for so long, it was really inevitable that there would be a high level of turnover for adaptations of her character.
She has been adapted in countless media, ranging from 1940s radio serials to long running live action and animated dramas to video games and animated webisodes. The character’s iconic wit and strength have also made her an aspirational and inspirational figure for girls of all ages.
Yet, it goes without saying that when it comes to beloved comic characters, not all adaptations are created equal.
Here’s our list of Every Version Of Lois Lane, Ranked Worst To Best.
15. Kate Bosworth (Superman Returns)
There’s no easy way of saying this: when it comes to the 2006 movie Superman Returns, there’s essentially nothing that works. While we could go on and on about the miscasting of Superman or the cheesy visuals and script that weighed the whole production down, we’re here to talk about Lois Lane.
When it comes to everyone’s favorite Daily Planet reporter, Kate Bosworth’s portrayal is the worst of the worst.
With a plot that dictates that her character’s arc revolve entirely around men (whether Clark, Richard White, or her son, Jason), Lois lacks any and all of the strength and independence that makes her such an admirable woman to begin with.
14. Anne Heche (Superman: Doomsday)
Unfortunately, Superman Returns isn’t the only adaptation of Lois that made the majority of her arc revolve around the fact that she was Superman’s girlfriend. It unfortunately also wasn’t the only adaptation to position her as a nagging, bitter one either.
Superman: Doomsday, a 2007 animated version of The Death of Superman arc, ultimately shows Lois as a capable investigative reporter. But before it gets to that point, Lois is presented as a nag, unsatisfied in her relationship with Clark and bickering with him to take things further. When the world is led to believe that he’s died, Lois is reduced to shambles, finding it hard to go on.
Thankfully, the movie course corrects and allows her to play a larger role in solving its central mystery, but between Heche’s monotone line delivery and the earlier out of character behavior, this Lois adaptation is one best avoided.
13. Amy Adams (DCEU)
Amy Adams is a beyond capable actress. Having been nominated for countless awards and with numerous major hits under her belt, the affable all American sweetheart actress should have been a natural fit for Lois.
However, due to the DCEU’s poor track record, bad writing, and the massive cuts made to movie after movie, Lois’s character has unfortunately once again suffered. In Man of Steel, Lois is a strong-willed investigative reporter, and for a little while, she seems like the Lois Lane we’ve all come to know and love.
In both cases, Lois is more of a damsel and a romantic interest, a savior who swoops in when she’s needed to repair Superman and that’s it. By now, it’s pretty safe to say that, unfortunately, there’s no hope for Lois in the DCEU. Whether there remains hope for the DCEU in general is a whole other story.
12. Alexis G. Zall (DC Super Hero Girls)
DC Super Hero Girls is a truly unsung hero within the trove of current DC adaptations. Aimed at younger girl fans and with dolls and toys marketed alongside it, the webisode series (soon to become a TV series on Cartoon Networks) is currently producing easily accessible and wonderfully in character animated shorts.
Taking place at Super Hero High, the series follows the daily lives and learning experiences of all of your favorite DC characters, heroes and civilians alike. And with DC Super Hero Girls‘ Lois Lane, young viewers are introduced to a witty and skilled reporter for the school’s newspaper. Her passionate commitment to telling the story is unflagging and her design is also undeniably one of the most adorable in all of the DC universe.
11. Stana Katic (Superman: Unbound)
Stana Katic is no stranger to crime-solving and no-nonsense-taking female characters. Having spent six years as Detective Kate Beckett on the ABC procedural Castle, Katic is clearly acting within her wheelhouse when it comes to portraying the voice of Lois Lane in 2013’s Superman: Unbound.
With a particularly dry and wry tone to much of her line delivery, Katic’s Lois Lane is a world-wearied one, more aware of the way things work than many other Loises we’ve encountered so far. She’s also far more unfiltered, with one particular visual gag involving a totally over it Lois flipping off the villain Brainiac with both fingers.
10. Ginny McSwain (Superman 1988)
The 1988 animated TV series Superman is one of the shortest lived Superman adaptations to make it to the TV screen. Nevertheless, the 13-episode Saturday morning cartoon put forth a version of Lois Lane that felt ripped straight from the pages of a comic book and sweetened with a bit of Scooby Doo mystery charm.
Ginny McSwain’s Lois is a true believer, committed to the belief that Superman couldn’t ever possibly do wrong and that “Superman is still our greatest hero.”
She works to preserve Superman’s good name within the press, and finds herself an unfortunate damsel to be saved quite frequently, but all the while presents as a Lois that should be familiar to even the most devoted of comics fans.
9. Grey Griffin (LEGO DC)
Grey Griffin has quite the prolific animated voice acting career behind her, including turns on The Fairly OddParents, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and recent entries within the Scooby Doo franchise as Daphne.
She has also portrayed Lois Lane multiple times over the course of her lengthy voice acting career, including off color appearances on Robot Chicken and MAD, and a turn in 2012’s Justice League: Doom.
However, it’s her cheeky turn as Lois Lane, the broadcaster of the Daily Planet News, in LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes – Justice League: Attack of the Legion of Doom that takes the cake.
Taking cracks at villains and heroes alike in her reporting, Lois’s core reportorial instincts and witty tone are somehow impressively maintained and translated perfectly into the LEGO DC franchise’s hilariously goofy and over the top antics.
8. Phyllis Coates (Adventures of Superman)
Recasting is a fairly common process in both TV and film franchises, and has been for a very long time. Whether in the case of the two Darrins on the 1960s sitcom Bewitched, or the replacing of Terrence Howard with Don Cheadle as James Rhodes/War Machine in the MCU, recasting can be for the better or for the worse, and can be for many, many reasons, including scheduling issues and disagreements over creative matters.
In the case of the classic series Adventures of Superman, the series’ first Lois Lane, Phyllis Coates, did not return after the first season due to having other jobs lined up.
Coates’ portrayal of Lois was certainly better than most, with her strength and conviction prominently on display. She fit the mold of the more 1940s style noir investigator, pushy and bold and just a touch grating.
7. Teri Hatcher (Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman)
Long before she was a desperate housewife or an awkwardly cartoonish Daxamite on Supergirl, Teri Hatcher brought Lois Lane to life opposite Dean Cain’s Clark Kent on the 1993-1997 series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Although the series clearly operated as a romantic dramedy, its tone and treatment matched some of the old Hepburn and Tracy pairings.
While Hatcher’s Lois was a much more sexualized version of the character than had been presented on film or television before, there was also no possible way of denying the strength of her character and her commitment to her career.
As Lois worked passionately as a fully devoted investigative and undercover journalist from her very first moment in the series, it makes all the sense in the world that she didn’t have to fight for first listing in the title of the series, never mind any potential bylines.
6. Dana Delany (Justice League 2001)
Much like Grey Griffin, Dana Delany has given life to the iconic Lois Lane many times throughout her career, including turns in 2004’s The Batman and 2013’s Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox.
However, it’s one of her other appearances, in 2001’s Justice League animated series, that shows signs of a more forward-thinking adaptation of Lois Lane who’s become fully updated for modern times.
She’s unafraid of calling Clark out when he’s blinded by his own poor judgment, especially when it comes to the allure of the Superman fame going to his head.
Easily angered by threats to her ability to speak her mind and tell the truth, Delany’s 2001 Lois is able to critique the world around her with increasing clarity and sharpness, thanks in large part to the emotional weight of Delany’s impassioned voice acting.
5. Joan Alexander (Radio and animated shorts)
Nowadays, it’s all but unheard of for someone to spend almost their entire career playing a single character, especially when that task involves the mindblowing total of almost 2,000 episodes spent with that same character. However, in the case of the Lois Lane of the 1940s radio serials and animated shorts, that’s exactly what Joan Alexander did.
Lois Lane was introduced in DC Comics in 1938, and Alexander began portraying her in 1940. Identifiable with the intrepid reporter almost from the beginning, Joan Alexander gave voice to an incredibly driven and independent Lois who took dangerous and daring assignments on for herself, even without the express permission of her editor.
4. Noel Neill (Adventures of Superman)
As previously mentioned, sometimes, recasting can be for the worse– or for the better– when it comes to certain characters. In the case of Adventures of Superman‘s Lois Lane, the recasting of Phyllis Coates with the introduction of Noel Neill proved to be a creative decision that worked out entirely for the better.
Neill’s Lois Lane had some of the strongest personality traits afforded to any adaptation of the character. Frequently wittier and smarter than the men around her, she’s often unafraid of calling men out on their hypocrisy and sexism, all while knowing how to play the system and earnestly falling for Superman over time.
3. Dana Delany (Superman: The Animated Series)
The Lois Lane of Superman: The Animated Series is, in many ways, one of the most liberated adaptations of the character.
Tremendously educated and well-read, Lois drops references to Nietzschean psychology, asserting her place as the more qualified member of the Kent and Lane duo seeing as Clark is just “some yokel from Smallville” who just drops in out of nowhere and “suddenly get[s] every hot story in town.”
She’s also one of the more sexually suggestive Lois versions, as her dialogue is filled with boldly forward innuendos and self-confidence. Dana Delany’s masterful delivery of the lines sparkles with noir-style mystery and feminist strength in equal measure, creating a fully-realized and lively Lois even in her animated form.
2. Margot Kidder (Superman I-IV)
From her introduction in 1978’s Superman, Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane is everything that a Lois Lane adaptation should be. Fiercely committed to ensuring that she receive fair treatment and the best stories, her wit is on display from the moment she meets Christopher Reeve’s perfectly geeky Clark Kent.
She’s able to more than hold her own in a world filled with men, even as the dated script invariably occasionally saddles her with the occasional misogynistic line.
Nevertheless, Kidder’s Lois is able to dance the fine line between swooning woman falling in love and passionately driven reporter role model with an almost unparalleled ease.
1. Erica Durance (Smallville)
It takes a really special performer to turn a minor recurring role into a series headlining gig. Thankfully for Lois fans everywhere, Erica Durance is that kind of special performer.
Initially brought onto Smallville for a short term recurring role in season 4, Durance’s Lois had each and every part of what makes Lois such a perfectly human character from the very beginning.
She had sharp wit in spades, teasing Clark whenever she could and calling him “Smallville” to rile him up. Her investigative interest blossomed from the very beginning, whether working alongside her cousin Chloe and Clark in high school or earning her way to the top of the ranks at the Daily Planet.
She was guarded and vulnerable in equal measure, able to kick ass and defend herself, but also capable of being swept off her feet into a grand, series-spanning romance. Above all else, she was a hero in her own right, wonderfully flawed and human, but undeniably worth rooting for.
Smallville may have set out to be the story of the making of Superman, but along the way, the making of Lois Lane became just as important, all thanks to Erica Durance’s magnetic performance.
Who do you think are the best and worst versions of Lois Lane? Let us know in the comments!
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