'Superman & Lois' season 1 episode 1 review: Pilot

Hi, Kal-El.

Bitsie Tulloch and Tyler Hoechlin as Lois and Superman.
(Image: © The CW)

What to Watch Verdict

'Superman & Lois' has its heart, but it's got a little work to do before it finds its soul.


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    🚀The writers have a clear understanding of what makes Superman, Superman.

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    🚀The series always makes sure Clark's cape is bright red.

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    🚀Loving journalist Lois getting the opportunity to go on a mission.


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    🚀No thanks to these teens.

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    🚀Clark's concern about stepping back from Superman is nonsensical given the fact that he left the Earth in Supergirl's care for an extended period of time before the boys were born.

This post contains spoilers for Superman & Lois. 

There were a lot of roadblocks standing in the way of me getting excited for Superman & Lois. Tyler Hoechlin’s Superman has always been a strong iteration of the character, but we’ve had a thousand and one stories about him. Meanwhile, the idea of watching a show who features two teenage boys as the main characters? The disinterest on that aspect couldn’t be lower. And yet, Superman & Lois manages to pull off a few tricks with its pilot.

As will likely be the case for the series as a whole, the pilot shines brightest when it focuses on the things that make Clark Kent a hero. There’s been a prevalent misunderstanding over the last decade leading a certain subset of viewers to believe it’s the powers that make him who he is, but it’s always been his humanity that makes Kal-El worthy of the symbol he wears on his chest. We immediately open in the golden era of Superman — literally. We immediately get two iconic moments from the comics, from “Thanks, my mom made it!” to the below gem.

Parallels between 'Superman and Lois' and Action Comics #1.

Parallels between 'Superman and Lois' and Action Comics #1. (Image credit: Future)

But the future isn’t so bright for the Kent family. Within the first twenty minutes of the episode, Clark’s laid off from his job — courtesy of a Morgan Edge (Adam Rayner) takeover that’s killing The Daily Planet — and loses Martha Kent (Michele Scarabelli) to a stroke. The Kent-Lane family returns to Smallville to find Clark’s beloved hometown in the same disarray as The Planet, with foreclosure signs on every corner. If all that wasn’t enough, young Jonathan (Jordan Elsass) and Jordan (Alex Garfin) take a nasty spill in the barn after Martha’s funeral, and the boys have questions about how they could possibly be okay.

While I’d love to say that my previous concerns about a show featuring a strong focus on two teenage boys were unfounded, that ain’t the case. There will undoubtedly be some strong conversations surrounding Jordan and his social anxiety disorder, but the “how dare you choose the world over us” discourse never has much of a punch. We'll certainly see moments when Jordan and Jonathan shine, but the pilot doesn’t set them up to be anything other than frustrating distractions. Clark Kent and Lois Lane (Elizabeth Tulloch) returning to Smallville to fight for the small town and the importance of journalism? Sign me up! Toss in two whiny teenagers — even one with superpowers? Eh. Shout out to the episode calling out not to mix alcohol and anti-depressants, though!

General Lane (Dylan Walsh) is softer towards Clark than we’ve seen him in the past, but he makes one hell of a point when Lois insists Superman needs to wait after Martha’s death. “Superman doesn’t get to have a normal life, no matter how much you want one for him. Or yourself,” he insists. And he’s right. The thing is, this conflict is kind of nonsensical given the presence of Supergirl (Melissa Benoist). The CW has always made a point to ensure you don’t need to know its other series to know what’s going on in an individual show. However, Lois and Clark spent an entire year on Argo. Superman comfortably left Earth behind because he knew that Kara was here defending it. He hasn’t taken her place in the lineup yet, so this whole “how can I step back” conversation seems strange when it wasn’t even a blip on Supes’ radar before the twins were born.

Superman & Lois’s pilot is flawed, but the series has a lot of potential. While the villain who kicked Superman around the atmosphere hardly even registers in the overall episode as a whole, there’s enough intrigue there to keep fans at least vaguely engaged in what might come next from him. Especially after his moment at the end of the episode (don't worry, we'll dive into Captain Luthor soon). However, I suspect a lot of the excitement for the show will come from Smallville fans who realize they’re basically getting a reboot at a different part in the timeline. Maybe young Superboy will grow on me in time. For now, I just want to watch Lois Lane ruin Morgan Edge’s whole life.



Amelia Emberwing

Amelia is an entertainment Streaming Editor at IGN, which means she spends a lot of time analyzing and editing stories on things like Loki, Peacemaker, and The Witcher. In addition to her features and editorial work, she’s also a member of both the Television Critics Association and Critics Choice. A deep love of film and television has kept her happily in the entertainment industry for 7 years.