Superman & Lois: Alexander Garfin Talks Damian Wayne Comparisons, Explains Why He Thinks the Arrowverse Works

Tonight, Superman & Lois returns on The CW, and it's been a heck of a week. The series scored some big ratings with its season premiere, and got picked up for a second season earlier today. The series, the latest installment in the vast, interconnected world of DC Comics adaptations that fans know as the Arrowverse, centers on the life of Superman and Lois Lane as they relocate to Smallville to raise a pair of (super-powered?) teenagers. The first episode revealed that Jordan Kent has powers -- and this week will see them being explored at the Fortress of Solitude -- but there's still a question about whether Jonathan will get his shot.

Tonight is the second episode of the series, which will also see Jonathan struggling to get used to life in Smallville. Meanwhile, Lois Lane has to deal with a conflict of interest: what do you do when the evil billionaire you're investigating, actually owns the newspaper you work for?

Earlier today, Alexander Garfin -- who plays Jordan Kent on the series -- joined us to talk about the episode.

This week, they revealed that Jordan was named after Jor-El. Did you know that in advance?

I figured it out. When I first got assigned the character, it was actually called something else. They told me later it was Jordan, and then when he had heat vision and had powers, I was like "okay, Jor-El." And then Jordan, because he gets powers, Jonathan, because he doesn't. And they didn't consciously do it, Lois and Clark, but there may have been some funky Kryptonian business there.

Your character's mental health was a big part of the pilot. What kind of research did you do for that?

First of all, I conjured up my own experiences, which are a little personal so I won't go into, but I conjured up a lot of my own experiences, and I also talked to people who I knew were diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder and who were on benzodiazepines, so in those conversations I took a lot of notes and I'm very grateful for those three people, and that's kind of where the research went on that.

My main goal through Jordan on the mental health side was to try and destigmatize it, and to not let the character be guided by that. He is his own force of will, he is his own person. His struggle, and dealing with that, is not the thing that defines him, but it is one of the things that outline him. I'm hoping that came through, and there's some great moments coming up in the first half of season one, where you get to see how it can be dynamic. Even when you're dealing with anxiety, you can be brave.

Did you guys read the comics? While Jordan doesn't exist there, you guys have a little of him in each of you.

I know! Jonathan even looks like me! When I saw it, I was like 'look at that hair!' It's great. Jordan is brand-new. He's new because we wanted to tell a story taht was new. Superman as a father before has never been seen onscreen, so we had the liberty after Crisis when a lot of the slate got wiped clean to really tell the story we wanted to tell, and we wanted to tell the story that would be the strongest in the telling. This is our best shot.

Moving to Smallville is hard for Jon, but how does Jordan take to the change of venue?

One of the things which I discussed with Bitsie is his relationship with his mom. That's not something you necessarily truly see come to true fruition in the first episode or even the secon dbecause so much is going on all at once. The mroe nuanced things, they take time to devbelop those threads, but back in Metropolis, his best friend was Lois, his best friend was his mom. I know plenty of people like that, who are in his exact shoes. So leaving behind Metropolis doesn't necessarily mean leaving behind the people that he cares about the most. And coming from Metropolis and connecting with someone for the first time is absolutely monumental in his life and his development. I've said before that him getting powers has almost as much gravity as him connecting with Sarah, even if he gets kicked in the head right after. It's a monumental moment for him to feel connection to Smallville. It draws him to the place.

Obviously, the nature of this partnership is going to draw some comparisons to the Super-Sons, with you generally cast in the Damien Wayne role.

I see that. And I recognize the similarities but they're not the same character, they really are not. Not only is Jordan half Kryptonian, and that obviously makes him different, but there are some nuances that are different.

The great thing about television, in my mind, is that you get to build a connection with the audience over years of their life. Watching shows for me when I was growing up, if something lasts 8 seasons and you watch it every week, there's a huge difference in your life from when you're sixteen versus when you're eight. A lot of people grow up alongside these characters, and the more serialized nuance that is written in -- and there's plenty here -- the more we can connect ourselves with the characters. So I think we can differentiate Jordan from Damien Wayne in that way.

Do you think it's even possible to take a character like this into the movies, where he has to compete for screentime with Superman?

Right! Not barring the chance of making a film later on, once the characters are established, but the exposition alone -- we had to tell Superman's entire backstory in what? A minute? It's iconic, so everyone knows it. But it just shows that there's so much we want to tell. We're bursting at the seams with things that we want to express.

That's why Superman on TV works, that's why superheroes on TV works, that's why the Arrowverse works. We can really dive into these characters. We can make people develop a relationship with them. That goes a long way.


What's a relationship in the show that has surprised you as the filming progressed?

Kyle and Sarah is one of the most interesting dynamics. It's in the pilot, but we didn't have that much time to express it fully, so going deeper into season one...really the whole Cushing family dynamic, how these two families relate to one another, and the new characters that we introduced because we had that story we wanted to tell.