Posted by Eleanor Tremeer @eleanortremeer
MP staff writer. I talk about superheroes a lot. Sometimes I'm paid for it.
Eleanor Tremeer

When Superman was confirmed to appear in Supergirl Season 2, the announcement was met with a divided response. While some were delighted that Kara would finally team up with her cousin — after tip-toeing around the subject in Season 1 — others argued that Superman might overshadow Kara. Whether this will happen remains to be seen, but there's one major reason why we're excited to see the Man of Steel join the Maid of Might — and it's the same reason Tyler Hoechlin took the role.

There have been many different iterations of Superman over the years, as DC have tried to find the perfect balance for the character. As the character who inspired the entire superhero genre, Superman is known to be a traditional do-gooder, which is an archetype that has struggled to garner interest in the last couple of decades.

Golden Age Superman would feel out of place nowadays. [DC]
Golden Age Superman would feel out of place nowadays. [DC]

To try to keep Superman relevant, DC have created several versions of the character, given him an alternate universe in which to be a tyrant (the ongoing Injustice series), and killed him off several times. Yet, as the DCEU's dark and brooding Man of Steel has been critiqued for his lack of joy, we have to wonder whether the time is right to return to Superman's roots — and that's exactly what Supergirl is planning to do.

New Superman Talks Old Superman

As with any new actor that takes up such an iconic role, there's a lot of responsibility riding on Tyler Hoechlin's shoulders. But the showrunners have a lot of confidence in his skills — the Teen Wolf star recently revealed to Entertainment Weekly that he did not need to audition for the role.

Hoechlin talked about his influences, commenting that he grew up watching Lois & Clark: The New Adventures Of Superman, with his favorite Superman being Christopher Reeve.

Although Hoechlin didn't watch old Superman films after being cast, it seems as though these are the versions of Clark Kent that Supergirl Season 2 will emulate — in stark contrast to the DC movies.

"It’s Superman as I think he was intended to be, which is just an incredible symbol of hope to kids that they can do anything, that they can be good people, and that good people can triumph over evil. You don’t have to be dark and brooding and always in this state of masculine toughness. He sits in that very hopeful and optimistic place that Kara tends to be in."

In recent years, the DC TV shows have made a concerted effort to stand apart from the DC films — aside from Arrow, which is known to be quite dark, the other DC shows exist as the brightly colored, cheerful, campy contrast to the somewhat dismal DCEU.

Supergirl rescues "Fluffy" from a tree. [CBS / The CW]
Supergirl rescues "Fluffy" from a tree. [CBS / The CW]

It makes sense that this new incarnation of Superman would be in keeping with this style, and this might very well prove something crucial about the character: That he can be both a traditional do-gooder, and interesting to modern audiences.

A Symbol Of Hope

As Hoechlin pointed out, there's still a lot of merit to that apparently old-fashioned view of who Superman is, and why he's important. Superheroes were always intended to be a symbol of hope — it's no coincidence that the boom of the superhero genre coincided with the Second World War, as people (children especially) looked to their new heroes for solace.

While it's true that the two-dimensional superheroes of yesteryear probably wouldn't enthrall modern audiences, there's still a lot to be said for that symbolism, as things aren't exactly peachy-keen nowadays either.

Superman saves a suicide teen in 'All-Star Superman'. [DC]
Superman saves a suicide teen in 'All-Star Superman'. [DC]

One of the things Supergirl does really well is to uphold that idea. As dark as things get for Kara — and they get pretty dark, with her grief and rage and survivor's guilt — Supergirl always has hope. This was one of the strongest aspects of Season 1, as Kara learned how to juggle being a symbol for others and holding on to her optimism, even when the weight of the world was difficult to bear.

That made Supergirl a lovely antidote to Batman v Superman, a movie which saw Superman deal with that same responsibility in a very different way, turning his view inwards and projected all his issues onto another hero that he saw as corrupt. In a perfect example of the difference between these two DC worlds, when Supergirl first encountered another superhero — the Flash — rivalry and conflict couldn't have been further from her mind.

It's difficult to guess how Hoechlin's Superman will follow on from this, and with all of Kara's unresolved issues with her older cousin there's no doubt there will be a sense of rivalry between them, tempered with family protectiveness — after all, Kara has never been able to fulfill her mission to protect her younger-now-older cousin.

But as much as this Superman will be the optimistic contrast to the DCEU, it seems certain that Supergirl will bring out the other aspects of his character that sometimes get lost. His teasing sense of humor, for one, as well as his status as an intergalactic refugee — we already know that Supergirl Season 2 will feature a disturbing plot to wipe out all alien life on Earth, so this part of Superman and Supergirl's story will come to the fore.

At the end of the day, it's just nice to know that the Supergirl writers are approaching the character of Superman not with the aim of updating him, or altering him, but of returning to what made the character so popular in the first place. And we can't wait to see this version of the Man of Steel soar onto our screens come October.

Tell us in the comments: Which version of Superman is your favorite?

Superman and Supergirl have always supported each other. [DC]
Superman and Supergirl have always supported each other. [DC]

[Source: Entertainment Weekly]