Despite the fact that I regularly watch Melrose Place and Gossip Girl (one I even blog about regularly), I would still label Smallville as my guiltiest television pleasure. It’s corny, it’s generally over-acted and not about to be nominated for any Emmys any time soon, but I’ve still got a soft spot for the adventures of Superman when he was a boy (or late-20-something at this point).
I actually didn’t watch the first few seasons of Smallville on any regular basis, but became a regular viewer while working at Wizard as I became the magazine’s semi-regular correspondent on the show, available whenever interviews needed to be conducted or articles written. I was fortunate enough to speak with the show’s various producers and writers on numerous occasions and conduct interviews with Clark Kent himself, Tom Welling (one of the nicest Hollywood types I’ve ever chatted with) as well as the likes of James Marsters, Dean Cain, Kane and others when they appeared on the series.
Over the past few years, Smallville has inched away from its roots as a more realistic (or as realistic as you can get) chronicle of a young alien learning about his powers in a rural area and embraced its comics roots as almost a live-action tween-friendly version of Justice League Unlimited, with Green Arrow, The Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg, The Martian Manhunter, Black Canary, the Legion of Super-Heroes, Zatanna, the Wonder Twins and more showing up in color-coordinated casual wear. This week, the show hits a milestone, as my boy Geoff Johns pens an extra-length episode that brings the Justice Society of America to town.
To celebrate that and because I thought it would be fun, here are five more hero types I’d like to see done up Smallville style before the show wraps (and to make things a bit more interesting, I took the obvious Batman and Wonder Woman picks off the table since I believe it’s already been stated numerous times there are legal entanglements preventing either from happening besides).
It’s not a stretch at all to imagine that a younger John Henry Irons is already hard at work in Smallville’s version of Metropolis, probably for either Oliver Queen or whoever is running Luthorcorp this week. I’d actually go with the classic Steel origin of John Henry getting his weapons poached by some nefarious corporation (be it Luthorcorp or Intergang), then have him whip up his Steel armor to try and police the matter. Given the cool effects Smallville has done on the relatively cheap, I’m thinking they could create a fairly dope-looking Steel that would wipe at least a bit of the Shaq stink of the character’s mainstream cred.
How sweet would it be to see a smooth-talking, chain-smoking British conman sweep on into Smallville (or Metropolis), charm Lois Lane, piss Clark off, and then bring some hellish mystic nightmare in his wake that he needs Super-help to deal with? Smallville hasn’t had many occult-tinged episodes (at least not while I’ve been watching) so this would be a neat change of pace, and the contrast between Clark and Constantine is just too delicious for me. Besides, The CW already has the perfect teen Hellblazer in the form of Ed Westwick, Gossip Girl’s own Chuck Bass (and that may be the most inspired casting choice I’ve made in a blue moon).
While I think it would be nigh impossible to fully feature Jack Kirby’s Fourth World with Smallville’s budgets and other constraints, they’ve certainly proven me wrong on scores like that before. Nonetheless, the alternative is to just have a New God or two guest star and make allusions to Darkseid, etc. that you can either pay off later or leave as fun Easter eggs. The prospect of Orion on Earth just doesn’t grab me here, so I’d go with Mister Miracle’s arc of escaping Apokolips and seeking salvation in Smallville, but give it to Barda, not just because she and Superman have done porn together before, but because, again, this is The CW and if they can cast some pretty young thing as an Amazonian alien, they’re gonna.
If you can’t get Batman, let’s get the next best thing. Since there rumors that The CW was actually going to make a series about Dick Grayson and his carnival family their Smallville follow-up at some point, I say grab those prelim designs and go to town. The Haley Circus comes to town, some nefarious fellow runs an extortion scam or whatnot perhaps with a little extra muscle, and Clark needs the help of a 15-or-so acrobat with a fondness for red, green and yellow to save the day. I’d make this one light-hearted and upbeat, just like the Robin/Nightwing-Superman team-up dynamic in comics I’ve always enjoyed always is. And of course you can have some additional fun tossing in allusions to the Dark Knight and perhaps even why they can’t get him on the show.
This one seems like a no-brainer, as you can pretty easily bring in a GL similarly to how Flash, Aquaman or any of the other major DC players came and cover his origin in about five minutes (“A dying alien gave me a ring, now I’m a space cop”), then get to the slam-bang action with Clark and whomever teaming against Sinestro or perhaps a less-known interstellar Green Lantern opponent like Evil Star or somebody. Commercially, this would be a pretty guaranteed hit with the movie coming down the pike as well as the franchise’s current high standing in comics, while from a character standpoint Clark meeting an Earth native who patrols the stars is a neat bit of role reversal. As for who should be filling the role, I’d take Hal off the table since Ryan Reynolds has that sewn up, and probably John Stewart and even Kyle Rayner as well, since they could logically make the big screen jump as buddy and successor respectively; that leaves Guy Gardner, who if they stick with his traditional persona could be an even more interesting guest.
There’s no easier Smallville episode to write than some crazy scientist getting a hold of Clark’s DNA via a strand of hair or whatever he leaves behind at a crime scene then cloning him and then something going wrong with the process, leaving us with a high school-age Conner ready to kick ass and take names. Me being me, I’d of course play Superboy exactly how they did when he was first introduced, with cockiness and girl-craziness in full effect. This is actually a character who could have some real legs if they have him find Clark by the end of the first episode, and then the cast has to spend part of a season basically raising this kid and keeping him out of trouble; yeah, it’s kind of like the Supergirl story, but I think the idea that the character actually is Clark in some sense but nothing like him when it comes to personality would make for a lot more entertaining situations, plus the bulk of the supporting cast consists of attractive ladies who are already into soon-to-be-Superman anyways, so there you go. It would also be a neat bit of symmetry for the final season (which has to be coming up), as you’ve got Clark passing the torch to a kid who is the age he was when the show started while he “graduates” into true adulthood.