Fans watched Clark Kent’s journey from a farm boy toward his destiny as the Man of Tomorrow on the hit series Smallville, but throughout 10 seasons they never got to see him don the classic Superman costume.
Series star Tom Welling recently spoke with Entertainment Weekly about his time on Smallville and why he never was shown in the full Superman costume, calling it a deliberate choice before the pilot was ever shot.
“It was something that we discussed before we ever shot the pilot with [creators] Al [Gough] and Miles [Millar],” Welling said. “We literally had a sit down where we talked about the show and I asked about the suit and the tights and the flying, and they said, ‘No, absolutely not,’ part of the reason being is that show is about a teenager trying to figure out who he is.
“They felt that once Clark put on the cape and the suit, life became too easy, in a sense. They wanted to focus on who this character was before that.”
Superman For Television
Welling added that television budgets and the cost of visual effects and stunts factored into the decision, forcing the series to take a practical approach.
“That’s mainly why they save that for movies, more or less,” he said.
Fans caught a minor glimpse of Clark in the suit in the closing moments of the series as he flew into the sky, but the full shot was computer generated. Welling only filmed him opening his shirt, revealing the familiar emblem underneath.
“It was literally something that the entire series was behind in not doing that,” said Welling.
“We did things on that show where we didn’t call them powers, we called them abilities — you weren’t allowed to say powers; you just weren’t because Clark didn’t know they were powers, he just knew he had those abilities, so little things like kept us grounded and kept us faced onto the story we were telling about this character, not what he could do with these abilities.”prevnext
The Super Finale That Never Was
Welling added that there was originally a different plan for the final episode, featuring a lot more Superman action than what was shown, but the actor didn’t like it.
“Our series finale was supposed to be, in the first act, Clark puts on the suit and flies around, saves Lois on a plane, and does this other stuff,” Welling said.
He decided to contact the head honcho himself and put a stop to it.
“It was a call that I had with Peter Roth, who is the head of Warner Bros. Television, who’s a good friend of mine and we have a great relationship. I said, ‘That’s not our show, Peter.’ He’s like, ‘No, it’s going to be great,” and I go, ‘Yeah, but just think about what we’ve been doing. If we just jump into that, we haven’t earned it.'”
The Smallville actor made a valid point; the show was about growing up and embracing the destiny of becoming Superman. Making a shift into a full-on Superman show, even for the finale, would have been jarring.prevnext
“We jumped onto this idea that at the end of the show, the idea is that Clark becomes Superman and he’s out there, and we know he’s out there, but we can’t go with him, but that we know and we feel good that he’s out there doing good,” Welling said. “That was what we strove for, and I think we hit it.”
Some fans might have been disappointed with the finale, but Welling said he’s confident that it was the ending Smallville deserved.0comments
I liked the ending of the series, because it’s like, ‘Yes, he did it!’ I hope the audience didn’t feel like we didn’t show them something that they needed to see. I felt like we gave them the jumping off point for their imagination as to what could happen.”
Welling will next appear in Lucifer on FOX.