Oh, So There Are Folks Who Understand Superman

I’m going to start with a controversial statement that’s going to position me in a very peculiar place for the rest of the article, but I have to say it to properly frame everything that will come after…I think Man of Steel (2013) was a good depiction of Superman.

I think Henry Cavill’s depiction of specifically Superman and in a different timeline, probably could have been a decent Clark Kent. It’s not a perfect movie by any means (the death of Jonathan Kent being one of the more egregious moments of the film), but I felt it captured the larger than life nature of an extraterrestrial with superpowers. The last act set up what could have been an interesting interpretation of Superman, who has resolved not to kill after being forced to use force to stop Zod from killing innocent people.

However, we never got the chance to explore that as we were thrust into a series of movies that never let Superman be the focus, instead pitting him against a vague ideological opposite, positioning him as a tyrant, killing him, resurrecting him in a primal state, and then never really properly revisiting the character’s optimistic core. And during this time, we got a cavalcade of dark-Superman stories between Brightburn, The Boys, and Invincible that explored the dark implications of a near omnipotent being.

And these are interesting stories. Kingdom Come and Red Son are fascinating explorations of the character, but I think after a decade or so of the uber-serious ubermensch, I longed for a more uplifting version of the character. The CW’s Superwoman and Superman and Lois definitely erred more on the side of optimism, and the mythos lent itself to some good moments here and there, but never quite endeared itself to me to a point where I’d adore it. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t feel the need to proselytize it.

Enter My Adventures with Superman.

(Some potential spoilers interspersed throughout.)

I don’t think I can stress how much I didn’t know I needed this until I saw the trailer. And I don’t think I could have been happier when in the opening minutes of the pilot, a young Clark Kent adorned with that cool 90’s S on his shirt manages to save a woman from crashing into a tree and quietly discovering that he has superpowers. He immediately flies up to the sky with a goofy smile and immediately wonders about his origin. The story then picks up in the present where we get to meet our trio and the show draws fantastic parallels between Clark and Lois,and establishes all of the characteristics we have come to expect: Clark’s earnest Midwestern charm, Lois’s driven career nature, and Jimmy being Clark’s biggest hype man.

Throughout the first season, we see a truly modern version of the character. One with a more sci-fi bent, with the myth of the inaugural season revolving around repurpose Kryptonian tech. One with clear anime influences, helped brilliantly by Studio Mir giving Clark the magical girl transformation that we as a society didn’t know we needed until the glowing blue light subsumed our favorite flying brick. Also, they riffed off iconic nerd properties with a Neon Genesis Evangelion-esque redesign of Parasite, a bishonen Slade Wilson, and mechs…so many glorious mechas.

It’s a story that recognizes that Superman’s story is an immigrant story, where Clark’s parents risked everything to get him to a safe haven without fully knowing if he would be accepted, and Clark having to reconcile with an unknown heritage and the inherent fear that society has of “the other.” It’s a story that recognizes that Clark Kent being a journalist is an integral part to the character, where the relentless search for truth and justice alongside Lois and Jimmy is how they grow and demonstrate their principles. We see them cultivate sources, investigate crime scenes, asking the hard questions to others (and themselves), and yes, break the rules, but it’s all in pursuit of a better world. It’s a story that positions the military as a reasonable antagonist, an entity that fears what they don’t understand to the point of doing anything they can to stop a perceived threat based on a prior incident. 

Everything about this show is a brilliant balance of elements. It’s got triumphant music and incredible animation for both the high-octane action and the sweet tender moments of friendship and romance. It’s the way that the intro plays with a happy go-lucky guitar riff as our heroes valiantly face a menagerie of sci-fi villains. The way Jimmy keeps referring to a psychic starfish in Germany, how Lois wears a formal outfit inspired by the traditional Korean hanbock, how Martha Kent adds the finishing touches to her son’s costume.

Jack Quaid (who is having an absolutely incredible year between spots on The Boys, Oppenhiemer, Star Trek) brings a distinct earnesty to Clark, capturing the stalwart nature of the Man of the Steel and the questioning young adult still trying to figure things out. Alice Lee captures the energetic spirit of Lois, easily selling how the determined journalist in training draws the eyes of Clark. Ishmel Sahid gleefully matches the energy of the two folks in his inner circle who are a lot a lot. The supporting cast rounding out the world and just giving us such a complete version of Metropolis, Task Force X, and hints of a broader world.

At the time of writing, the season finale isn’t out, but I was in tears for the majority of episode 9 because it got the characters. It has enduring optimism. It has a sense of humor. The fact that Superman, that Clark constantly chooses to do good for no other reason than that he can. And it’s not like the story strays away from addressing the “Beware the Superman” tropes that have circulated in parallel (even going so far to make meaningful use of the Multiverse to stage some interesting conflicts that episode 10 will address if the promo is anything to go by).

It reminds me of Superman: For All Seasons, of the original Tomasi/Gleason run that got me invested in the character, of Christopher Reeves and Margot Kidder’s chemistry.

It shows a deep understanding and respect for the mythos and the current audience that needs a paragon type figure. It’s a fascinating, enthralling version of the “Boy Scout” and is a textbook case study on how to make an almost god-like character relatable and interesting. It’s yet another example why I think DC just needs to invest all of their money to animated properties because between this and Harley Quinn, there aren’t any superheroes stories coming close to the level of insight these series have on their characters and why we adore them.

So do yourself a favor and join me in watching and rewatching My Adventures with Superman to make sure that we don’t just get a second season, but a third, and fourth. And maybe some companion series set in the world. They took Young Justice from me, so I’m going to remain greedy when it comes to my heroes.

Want to get Black Nerd Problems updates sent directly to you? Sign up here! Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram!


  • Mikkel Snyder is a technical writer by day and pop culture curator and critic all other times.

  • Show Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

comment *

  • name *

  • email *

  • website *