When Glenn Morshower debuted the Arrowverse verison of General Sam Lane, father to Lois and Lucy, on Supergirl, the character was pretty true to how he had traditionally been depicted in the comics. With a conflicted relationship with his daughters, Sam was married to the military, deeply suspicious of aliens in general and of Superman in particular and, generally speaking, one step removed from being Thunderbolt Ross. And that's not to suggest that the Arrowverse was setting out to copy Marvel; rather, that take on the character is pretty well in line with what Sam has been like in the comics since, basically, the mid-'80s when he came out of Crisis on Infinite Earths reinvented as a military man rather than a horse farmer.
In Superman & Lois, there's something dramatically different about Sam Lane -- and it starts and ends with the way he interacts with the title characters. In the series, Lane not only trusts Superman, and works with him openly...but the audience learned in the pilot episode last week that he actually knows that Superman is Clark, and therefore married to his daughter.
These changes came along with a different kind of change: Nip/Tuck and Life Sentence star Dylan Walsh steps into the role of Lane, and brings with him a softer edge than Morshower's take. Here, he says many of the same things that the old Lane would have -- "Superman doesn't get to live a normal life, no matter how much you want one for him -- or for yourself," but it comes off as less harsh, and it feels like his parenting may have been at least somewhat more emotionally open with his daughters. Some of that is the writing, but much of flows from the choices that Walsh is making with the character, and it is ultimately making him less of a caricature and more of a human being.
Dylan is such a great guy...he's such a great actor," series star Tyler Hoechlin told ComicBook recently. "And I think what we've really enjoyed, and especially for me, the dynamics between Clark, Superman and Lane is so different than any other dynamic on the show for him."
That's not to say that the relationship is -- or will remain -- chummy. Hoechlin did tell us that some of those little moments of frustration from the pilot will continue to pop up between the two men, who are both trying to do their best for their community and the world, but who have very different ideas about how to do it.
"There's a mutual respect there, and there's a mutual sense of duty there," Hoechlin explained. "But at the end of the day, they don't see eye to eye on some things. I think they respect each other's choices, although they don't agree with them. It just comes down to sometimes a matter of priorities, and where those lie for them. And it's not that they don't understand the other one, it's just they choose not to make that same decision, and that obviously is in conflict. But I enjoy that in the sense that I don't think Clark, Superman can blame General Lane for the choices that he makes necessarily, he just doesn't agree -- and the same thing with General Lane. I think he looks at Clark and goes, 'God, those are choices that I wish I felt I could make, there's just something about me that doesn't allow me to do it.' And so there's also maybe a resentment there, like, 'Ah, I wish I could, but I can't.'"
Superman & Lois airs on Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT, following episodes of The Flash on The CW.