Superman & Lois showrunner explains show's place in the Arrowverse, addresses future crossovers

·9 min read
Superman & Lois showrunner explains show's place in the Arrowverse, addresses future crossovers

Warning: This article contains spoilers for the season 2 finale of Superman & Lois.

After two seasons of dodging the question, Superman & Lois finally explained its place in the Arrowverse.

It's not in it! Well, it kind of is. But not really? Let's back up.

In Tuesday's season 2 finale, former Department of Defense head Sam Lane (Dylan Walsh) explained to his grandsons, Jordan (Alex Garfin) and Jonathan Kent (Jordan Elsass), that they shouldn't be worried about their father, Clark/Superman (Tyler Hoechlin), saving the day, because he's Earth's greatest hero. And as it turns out, he's Earth's only hero.

"I've been working for the DOD for a long time," he 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."

Jordan Elsass, Tyler Hoechlin, Elizabeth Tulloch, and Alex Garfin on 'Superman & Lois'
Jordan Elsass, Tyler Hoechlin, Elizabeth Tulloch, and Alex Garfin on 'Superman & Lois'

The CW Jordan Elsass, Tyler Hoechlin, Elizabeth Tulloch, and Alex Garfin on 'Superman & Lois'

Since the Arrowverse crossover Crisis on Infinite Earths got rid of the multiverse and merged all the show's universes into one Earth (called Earth-Prime), this finale declaring that Superman & Lois' Superman is the only hero on this Earth means… well, we'll just let showrunner Todd Helbing explain.

"I don't know if I would specifically define it as not in the Arrowverse per se," he tells EW. "Maybe it's not that binary. It's more that the events in our show are not taking place on the same Earth as the current Arrowverse."

Does that clear things up? Maybe? Below, Helbing further explains what this means, addresses the question of potential Arrowverse crossovers in the future, and teases what fans can expect from season 3 now that Clark has built a brand-new fortress in the middle of the ocean for all of his super-family to use.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Where did the decision come from to spell out Superman & Lois' place in the Arrowverse in this finale?

TODD HELBING: It goes back to season 1. In the original [pilot] there were a lot of references to Crisis and there was a Flash mention, and when we were shooting the original intent was to be part of the Arrowverse. But you know, then the pandemic hit and things changed and we couldn't do a crossover with Batwoman, and all of these references to Crisis through the pilot rewriting phase got stripped out just to make everything a little bit more clear for a broader audience. Then at some point in season 1 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. 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.

How did you feel about that?

When you're part of a big — obviously I was part of The Flash for five years, I ran it for some of that time I was there, and tracking of the other shows' stories, that is a huge undertaking. In some ways it's easier to not be associated with the other shows in such an intimate way, because you don't have to track everything. You can kind of just concentrate on your characters and put 100 percent of your focus into the show that you're trying to make. And in other ways it's sad, because clearly doing all the crossovers are a huge reward for fans and everybody that's tuned in for years. And that stuff is tremendously fun to work on and satisfying. But there's not seven, eight shows on the air right now, so that in itself is a much bigger challenge to do stuff like that. I don't know, it's conflicting, for sure.

Why wait until the season 2 finale to finally answer that question?

Ultimately, these decisions are not up to me. [Laughs] I'm the showrunner but I have a lot of bosses, and in my discussion with DC they just felt like it would be best to wait until the end of season 2 before I could reveal that. I would love to tell you a specific answer about why DC wanted that, but they have their own structure over there in what they are trying to accomplish and we're just one piece of that, so I am glad to do whatever they request.

How relieved are you that you finally won't have to keep answering all these Arrowverse/crossover questions?

Look, I get it. I get it if the fans are disappointed. It's a lot easier to be honest, finally, to tell everybody and not feel like you're deceiving people when I was answering these questions like "Why isn't Supergirl showing up?" or "Why isn't the Flash showing up?" I'm just glad that finally everybody knows now so we can just continue to make the best show we can.

Does this mean that Superman & Lois' versions of Clark and Lois [Elizabeth Tulloch] are officially different from who we saw in all the Arrowverse crossovers and appearances in the past?

Yeah, exactly. Everybody that you see, while some people may have similar backstories and some may be different, they're different characters.

Does this mean no more crossovers in the future?

No, not necessarily. I mean, Supergirl was on CBS and came over to Flash, and vice versa. We're doing a comic book show, so it doesn't necessarily mean that this will never happen. I think the odds of it looking exactly the way that it has in the past are slim. But if there's an opportunity, and if there's a desire, I'm sure there are versions that we can do.

Grant Gustin, Melissa Benoist, Tyler Hoechlin, Ruby Rose, and Brandon Routh on 'Supergirl'
Grant Gustin, Melissa Benoist, Tyler Hoechlin, Ruby Rose, and Brandon Routh on 'Supergirl'

Dean Buscher/The CW Grant Gustin, Melissa Benoist, Tyler Hoechlin, Ruby Rose, and Brandon Routh on 'Supergirl'

Taking all that into account, when David Ramsey shows up at the end of the finale as John Diggle to talk with John Henry [Wolé Parks], that means this is a new version of Diggle? 

Exactly. He's a doppelgänger. He worked with Oliver Queen, he worked with other heroes that as of now are unnamed, but yeah, he's just a doppelgänger of John Diggle that everybody saw in the Arrowverse.

The last scene where the Kent family is on a boat watching the new fortress rise up was so gorgeous. It was giving me flashbacks to the Smallville season 4 finale.

Yeah, that whole sequence, we did a solar flare season 1, but not like that. If you look at the panels from the comics and all of that, it kind of lines up one for one. Our visual effects team is off-the-charts good.

How is this new fortress going to be taking the show in a new direction next season?

In seasons 1 and 2, obviously Clark was there with Jordan quite often. It just felt like Jonathan kind of got siloed a little bit in that regard. We just wanted to make it more of a family event, so that was really the motivation behind all that.

Now that Jordan's really come into his powers and has been stepping up as a hero when Clark couldn't, and Clark mentioned having some Kryptonian tech for Jonathan in the fortress, is season 3 going to be exploring both sons becoming superheroes?

We certainly want to fold Jonathan more into the superhero stories. It's difficult in these shows when you have people that aren't powered and you're dealing with somebody like Ally Allston [Rya Kihlstedt], there's only so much a human can do before they get hurt. With Jonathan, we'll see. We haven't really talked about season 3 in earnest yet. But what Clark says to him about the Kryptonian tech, you could take that in many different ways, so we'll see which road we ultimately go down. I have four brothers, and everybody on our staff has sort of similar experiences, so it's fun to play that [brother] dynamic. Sometimes siblings are best friends, sometimes they're at odds, but for the most part what we love about Jordan and Jonathan is that they have each other's back and that they're not jealous of each other. We'll continue to have that dynamic for sure in the show.

Going back to Diggle's conversation with Johny Henry, he name-dropped Bruno Manheim and Intergang. Is that going to be the big bad for season 3?

Yeah, at least one of them. We haven't gotten into too many discussions about season 3 yet, but what we love to do is introduce one or two or three different villains and have them sort of pass the baton or come together, and what you think is originally a Lois story becomes a Superman story and vice versa. We just like to have multiple characters on our show have multiple villains.

One villain who seems to have turned hero is Tal [Adam Rayner], but now he's on Bizarro Earth looking for whoever his Bizarro wife was. We know that's Lana Rho, but he doesn't — yet. What can we expect to see from that story next season?

I'm not sure yet. Tal, when he's over there and he's clearly in search for who his wife is, I think when he gets the answer and learns who she is, he may have second thoughts about trucking over there. [Laughs] We'll see. It's TBD right now, but we love Adam Rayner and we want to get him on the show as much as possible, so we'll do everything we can to make that happen.

I'm eagerly awaiting when he gets back to his Earth and comes face-to-face with Lana after learning Bizarro Lana was his Bizarro self's wife.

Yeah, that will be a lot of fun.

What are you most excited to explore next season?

For all of us, the most exciting part about this show is the family dynamic. We have three families — the Kents, the Irons, the Cushings — and they're all different versions of families, and they have different challenges and different victories. The family stuff, the relationships, that's the stuff that we all get most excited about. It's funny because sometimes, depending on who the villain is, the mythology starts to take over towards the end. We really try to offset that as much as we can. With Ally, when you talk about combining two worlds and the population on both, it gets a little sci-fi and comic book. [Laughs] I think next year, I would guess that we lean a little less into mythology and more into the personal drama.

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