Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No – it’s a TV show you probably forgot about, and it’s being cancelled. Superman and Lois, the final bastion of the Arrowverse, will conclude with season 4. Besides being the ultimate swansong of The CW’s corner of the DC universe, the show actually concludes a long-standing record for the Man of Steel.
As the DCU ramps up for James Gunn’s reboot, the small screen exploits of the best DC characters have been winding down too. Doom Patrol, the best TV series from DC in modern television as far as I’m concerned, is finishing, and so is Superman and Lois. The latter isn’t exactly surprising, since the Arrowverse has been on the way out for years, but it marks the first time in over seven decades there’s no prospect for Krypton’s last son on TV.
Back in 1951, the first Superman movie, Superman and the Mole Man, was made to kick off his original show. Since then, we’ve had Clark Kent on our screens consistently through syndication and new projects right alongside the ever-expanding DC movies.
Adventures of Superman became The New Adventures of Superman, an animated series in the ’60s. Then he joined Super Friends for over 12 years. We switched to Superboy in 1988, drama series Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman took over in the ’90s, followed by Smallville, one of the better known adaptations.
Superman: The Animated Series and Justice League were ongoing through the late ’90s and the 2000s, and then we move into the Arrowverse, which Tyler Hoechlin joined in 2016. We have not gone more than a few years without something new involving Superman on network TV in 72 years.
As of now, our Kryptonian hero is sticking to new movies. There’s Superman Legacy, and then the animated movie Justice League: Warworld, which came out earlier this year. I can see the logic in pushing towards the big screen to make his appearances feel more like an event, but I’m sad such an enduring symbol is becoming less of a commodity.
I can’t say I enjoyed all of Superman’s shows, but it’s very fitting that he was such a presence on television. He’s meant to be everybody’s hero, a great protector of all mankind, and there’s some poetry in him being available to so many without feeling prestigious or special.
Television’s shifting landscape plays a part here. We’re only now, after almost a century, seeing the death of TV production being dictated by networks and their schedules. Streaming services have completely upended the medium, creating space for all sorts of inventive approaches to storytelling.
Look at the Marvel series on Disney Plus, where you have genuine crossover with the films without any dip in production quality. That’s part of Gunn’s vision for DC, with actors reprising their roles across TV and film. If Superman is anywhere but the silver screen, it’ll be David Corenswet playing him, and likely some form of miniseries to make it seem like more of an event.
Onwards and upwards, even though sometimes change feels sad. Check out our Arrowverse order guide if you’d like to know more about those heroes, and we have guides to the Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow release date and The Brave and the Bold release date if you’d like to see what else Gunn has on the way in Chapter 1: Gods and Monsters.