Clark Kent takes on his biggest challenge in “Superman & Lois”: Parent.
Father to two 14-year-olds, Kent realizes moody teens could be harder to handle than Kryptonite.
For Tyler Hoechlin, who plays the superhero, “Superman & Lois” is a chance to pay tribute to his own father, an emergency room physician.
“My dad made a real, real conscious effort to always be around as much as possible and making it to all our baseball games and things like that,” he says during a Zoom conference. “He was very present in my life, still is. Hopefully, Clark can find a way to be half the dad my dad has been.”
While Hoechlin is 33 (and probably not in the key demographic to be a teenager’s dad), he says he has been able to learn from his older brother and sister who have six children between them.
When he heard the “Superman & Lois” plot twist, “my first thought was, ‘Of course, I would have two 14-year-old boys. That completely makes sense,'” he says with a laugh. “But it’s definitely been something interesting.”
Producers say this phase of the Kents' relationship hasn’t been mined in other series. Moving back to Smallville, Clark and Lois see how their twins struggle with fitting in. The boys are quite different, too, (one’s a star jock, the other’s a moody loner) and watch as their parents deal with small-town life.
The Daily Planet reporters still have journalism backgrounds, but Lois (played by Bitsie Tulloch) has to deal with a billionaire entrepreneur who is “trying to destroy journalism,” she says. “A lot of what she is writing about is what capitalism is doing to these small towns all over the states and Smallville in particular. Superman’s doing his stuff with his superpowers and she’s fighting against these injustices with words.”
Hoechlin, who first played Superman in “Supergirl,” had a chance to flex his tights on crossover episodes of “Arrow” and “The Flash.” The spinoff series struck many as inevitable.
Giving him a family afforded Hoechlin an opportunity to show a side to the character that others haven’t.
“Superman stands for something. He’s so symbolic,” Hoechlin says. “So you kind of feel a responsibility to carry on those things as well. But with Clark, there is more leeway. You can kind of find those little subtleties…that are a bit more human about him.”
A “dad bod,” however, is not one of them. If he tried, Hoechlin suspects there’d be “quite a few people I’d a get a phone call from before that happens.”
Clark, he says, has several personas besides Superman. “He’s most comfortable with his family. They know who he is and he can be himself (with them).”
The boys – Jonathan and Jordan – are a bit like Archie and Jughead in “Riverdale.”
“They’re totally, wildly different,” says Jordan Elsass, who plays Jonathan. “But they’re growing up at the exact same time so they can bond over the fact that they’re kind of sharing some very similar experiences.”
Adds Alexander Garfin, who plays Jordan: “We get into fights. We can hate each other sometimes but it’s built on a very deep and wide foundation of love.”
So that home life doesn’t dominate all of Clark Kent’s life, there’s a formidable foe who gives Superman new challenges.
Hoechlin says there are opportunities to make connections to Superman's origins. When he first put on the suit, he just started laughing. “It was crazy to feel that effect of, like, how long this character has been around.”
“Superman & Lois,” he says, has the ability to show the sacrifices parents make for their children. “I have three siblings. My mom stayed home with all four of us and the only reason I’m able to do what I do is because she was driving in and out of L.A. from the time I was 8 years old to go to auditions. There was a lot I never would’ve been able to do without her.”
That kind of selflessness will resonate with the Kents.
“I don’t know anything that I could find more admirable than that,” Hoechlin says. “I’m grateful that my parents approached raising us that way.”
“Superman & Lois” airs on The CW.