The CW's Smallville ended its run in 2011 after 10 seasons, but some fans are still miffed that we didn't get to see Clark Kent make his full transition into Superman during the two-episode series ender. Now, star Tom Welling has finally spoken out about why the decision was made to keep his appearance in the character's famous superhero suit to an absolute minimum.
Our series finale was supposed to be, in the first act, Clark puts on the suit and flies around, saves Lois on a plane, and does this other stuff. It was a call that I had with Peter Roth, who is the head of Warner Bros. Television, who's a good friend of mine and we have a great relationship. I said, 'That's not our show, Peter.' He's like, 'No, it's going to be great,' and I go, 'Yeah, but just think about what we've been doing. If we just jump into that, we haven't earned it.' . . . We jumped onto this idea that at the end of the show, the idea is that Clark becomes Superman and he's out there, and we know he's out there, but we can't go with him, but that we know and we feel good that he's out there doing good. That was what we strove for, and I think we hit it. I liked the ending of the series, because it's like, 'Yes, he did it!' I hope the audience didn't feel like we didn't show them something that they needed to see. I felt like we gave them the jumping off point for their imagination as to what could happen.
It's been a while, so let me refresh your memories of what happened in the Smallville finale. Darkseid and his forces are preparing to take over the Earth, by having their planet, Apokolips, enter our atmosphere. Near the end of the final episode, Clark is finally able to harness his ability to fly and, after heading to the Fortress of Solitude and getting the suit made for him by Martha from the spirit of his dad, he flies into outer space to push Apokolips back into deep space, thereby defeating Darkseid. If all that sounds like we did see Clark become Superman, you should know that all of those scenes of Clark doing Superman stuff in full costume were done in CGI. At no point did the audience actually see Tom Welling totally suited up as Superman. And, a lot of people were really annoyed by that.
As Tom Welling noted in his chat with Entertainment Weekly, the original plan was for Clark to put on his Superman suit and fly around saving folks early in the episode, but Welling didn't actually feel that it was the right ending for the show. After 10 seasons, he thought the goal of the finale should be to get fans right up to the point where we could then imagine how Clark would (after we stopped following him) fully embrace his destiny and become the hero the world needs. And, as disappointing as it was to not see a full body shot of Welling as Superman, that makes a lot of sense.
As fans know, Smallville wasn't a show about Superman. It was about a kid (and later young man) with abilities who was figuring out who he was and how he could use those abilities to help people. Tom Welling's idea that having him be Superman at the start of the final episode wouldn't have been earned seems right. The audience needed to see Clark go through one more trial, the biggest he'd ever had to deal with, in order for us to finally, truly believe that he'd be ready to become Superman. The very end of the episode flashed forward seven years, and we saw Clark head to the top of the Daily Planet building after hearing a report of a bomb being found uptown, rip open his shirt and prepare to fly off and take care of it. Mmmm...I'm getting chills just thinking about it.
If you want to relive the glory that was Smallville, the full series is available on Hulu. But, if what you really want is to see Tom Welling on TV again, you can catch him on the new season of Lucifer when that series returns to Fox on October 2 at 8 p.m. EST. Be sure to check out our fall TV premiere guide to see what else you can watch in the coming months.