Currently Smallville Cannot Be Made In A Superhero Movie Landscape

Currently Smallville Cannot Be Made In A Superhero Movie Landscape

Smallville creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar suggest that a show like the series couldn’t be made in today’s modern superhero movie landscape.

Smallville creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar reveal that they feel that a show like the Superman series couldn’t be made with the studio oversight and fandom expectations of today’s modern superhero movie landscape. The series premiered in 2001, airing across The WB and its successor network The CW for 10 seasons across 10 years. Smallville explored the earlier years of Superman’s life on Earth, seeing Tom Welling’s Clark Kent grapple with the challenges and responsibilities his Kryptonian heritage brings, while also navigating the trials that the life of a regular American teenager brings. In an interview with THR discussing their latest hit Netflix series, Wednesday, Gough and Millar were asked whether they would revisit Smallville if given the opportunity to expand on the world, to which both former showrunners declined. Gough stated that not only did they feel that they had told the story they wished to tell, but that they would not like to work under the increased studio oversight and prioritization of the current superhero adaptation landscape. Millar further explained that he felt that audience expectations for adaptations of stories more faithful to their source material wouldn’t allow them to take the creative liberties that they did with Superman’s origin story. Check out Gough and Millar’s full explanations below:

Gough: To be honest, no. I think we told that story, and they’re always refreshing Superman. I just read last night that James Gunn’s writing a new younger Superman movie, and I’m like, “OK.” I feel like we were very, very fortunate to do the show when we did it because we got to make the show we wanted to make, and frankly, there was no committee sitting over us telling us what we could or couldn’t do. I mean, we had Warner’s features, who wouldn’t give us certain characters that we wanted, but we got to make the show we wanted to make which we wouldn’t be allowed to make that show today. There were so many deviations from the canon. One generation’s heresy is the next generation’s gospel.

Millar: The whole premise of the show was not canon. The idea that Clark arrived in the meteor shower that killed people, and that Lex was there. All those things were completely new, added to the mythology of Superman, but we categorically would not be allowed to make that show and make those changes today, which is a real tragedy because I think what’s amazing if you look at the history of comics and these characters, is they’re always evolving. They never stand still, and the idea that there’s a certain canon you have to [follow], it’s actually leading to stagnation in terms of the ideas. Some of it’s, there’s obviously the cat calls from fandom, which people probably listen to too much that really, really has led to self-censoring, and we were still very privileged to have had that moment where we were actually free to do whatever we wanted, and it was it was amazing and very liberating.

Are The Creators Of Smallville Right?

With the formation of DC Studios under the vision of director James Gunn following a number of restructuring decisions, it is hard to deny Gough’s point on studio oversight. Many studios have attempted to craft their own shared universe, with Warner Bros. attempts at crafting a shared DC Extended Universe being one of the more noteworthy examples. While at first, the studio left creatives to develop their own stories while working together to craft an overall narrative, the turmoil behind Justice League’s production and its aftermath helped expose the drawbacks of such a strategy, as the studio entered a period of indecision surrounding the overall franchise’s future.

Despite this, Millar’s argument on fan reactions may hold less weight, as seen with the success of The Batman and other less interconnected works. Focusing on Robert Pattinson’s younger Bruce Wayne rather than Ben Affleck’s established veteran hero, The Batman features a darker, grounded take on Gotham City and its citizens that strayed from the larger-than-life moments in the comics. The Batman still won praise from both audiences and critics by sticking to the core values and messages of hope, even as it distanced itself from the less-grounded elements of the source material. While some stories may avoid direct adaptation, many audiences are more concerned with whether the characters are still recognizable to their source material counterparts, and are forgiving of certain narrative deviations.

With Gough and Millar’s recent reflections on Smallville, it is hard to deny the risks that the series took with Superman’s lore. Between having a younger Clark meet key friends and foes earlier on in his life and introducing new key characters such as Lionel Luthor, Smallville crafted a narrative that was inspired by the comics but still stood drastically apart. While concerns about studio oversight are understandable, it is clear that from Smallville’s legacy and The Batman’s success that audiences remain open to bold retellings of DC’s most recognizable figures even if studios aren’t.

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