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Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics [Blu-ray]
THE JOKER, LEX LUTHOR, CATWOMAN, DOOMSDAY, BANE. What makes them so thrillingly watchable? So terribly wonderful? So extremely vital to our super heroes and their worlds? This new feature-length documentary explores these questions across seven decades of DC Comics' hallowed Rogues' Gallery of infamous evildoers.
Before we get into the articles, here's a great 9 season recap video put together by a fan who goes by the YouTube moniker Aranyember86.
This is it. The final season is coming. Who would have thought all those years ago that season 10 would be the one that ends the series? 10 years. How many shows can say they lasted a decade? How many Superhero TV shows last more than a season much less 10? Smallville has done something no one would have considered when it began and that is survive long past the time anyone would have even guessed. Like it, love it, or hate it you cannot deny that the show has accomplished something worthy of note in that unprecedented run.
So I was asked to come up with a list of a few things that I, as a regular viewer and pretty big fan of the show, would like to see them do/accomplish during the final season of this long running Superman show.
This was not as easy as I first thought when I accepted the task. Sure somethings are simple... Like see the suit, make Clark fly, the actual name Superman being used, and maybe a shirt rip or two (though admittedly we've seen one shirt rip already).
To me those things are obvious to a point that they are almost not worth even mentioning. The problem is when trying to come up with my list I kept going over in my head a bunch of things I DON'T want to see.
At first I wasn't sure I should bring those up since I think from some quarters this show gets a lot more negative reaction than I personally feel it deserves. Yet this is Hollywood we are talking about. This is the land where they can take something like Superman and completely miss the point in so many ways. Making him a super power stalking home wrecking absentee father, a drunk who beds the villain's girlfriend after touching a tar rock, a over self critical kid who runs off to Vegas to marry a hot blonde because she slipped him a little red-K, rob banks, or even someone who will sleep with a girl and then forcibly remove her memory of it afterwards. Heck even the George Reeves version of the character left two people to die on top of a mountain just so they didn't tell everyone he was Clark Kent. Really? Superman did that? Yep.
So let's just say Hollywood has made sure Smallville isn't the only one to occasionally miss the point of this character.
All those less than Superman ideas happened in various live action versions of the character and none of them are things I really want to see in this beloved character, even though I actually enjoyed those versions very much. Even my favorite live action version of the character, Dean Cain's, used his powers to hover outside of Lois' apartment and spy on her more than once in non-emergency/life saving times. So Brandon Routh... I don't put that all on you even if you did let some guy with the name of Charles and a downloadable karate program kick your butt in an electronics store. (Watch Chuck if you haven't... it's not Superman but a great show for the nerd/geek inclined folks like me).
For all those weak points they all have their strengths as well and I am admittedly someone who can absolutely overlook 5 minutes of suck to enjoy the rest, if the rest is well done.
Even the comics have had their moments where I could list off a WTF moment or two.
So what I guess I am trying to get across here is sometimes I worry more so about what I don't want to see more than what I do want.
So with all that said here are the things I DON'T want to see in the final season of Smallville.
First and most importantly I DO NOT want to see Lois lose any more memory. The woman is going to have serious and total brain damage from all the times she's being knocked out. Plus how many times can they seriously have her learn about Clark and then retcon/erase it? Enough. She knows now. I don't care if they play it similar to Chloe's finding out where Lois pretends she doesn't know for a time, just don't take it from her. I can promise you right now a scathing review from this commentator should that happen.
I do not want to see Clark kill anyone again. It's important to point out. Too many villains have died on the show in questionable ways over the years. Only one (plant lady "zoner") could be classified as Clark outright killing them but others are iffy. They have been good about this over the past couple of seasons so I am just bringing it up as just a general fear and a reminder to the Smallville writers and producers who I know are totally reading this before starting their scripts. (Right?)
I do not want to see a Lex double. Lex will be mentioned in my wants but if he does come back it's Rosenbaum or bust in my mind. Let's not do the fake Lex thing again. I'd rather him be just left out of the story than put in like that again.
I do not want to see Clark or Lois dating someone else. They are "together" and they should stay there. Pre-relationships were find but we are approaching the end game here. We saw in the future vision they will be married by 2013. That is good. I like that. So keep them a couple now. A break is fine for drama but keep the Richard White's of the world away from Superman's girl and don't let any Mermaids or teleporting underwear models mess with Lois' Man of Steel.
I do not want to see Lana back. See above for one reason. See her final two episodes for the other. Her story has ended. She should stay gone.
OK. So what do I want to see...
I want to see Clark trying to fly. He knows he can... He knows he should... and there were too many times where he was left grounded why villains took off on him over the past couple of years. I want to see him out in the barn at least trying to figure it out. Even if it takes until the final episode to finally do it for real let's see some attempts and not just him standing there looking funny.
Bring Kara back. Last we saw the Maid of Might she left the planet in search of Kandor. Well since Lady Lex found it and Clark banished it there really isn't any reason why she should be left to wander the cosmos anymore. I am not saying I want her back full time but maybe have her come back and then decide to head off to school in Philadelphia or something for a while.
Now that Lois knows I would very much like to see her help develop Clark's Superman and public Clark identity. We saw her give him the idea for the glasses in an alternate reality. I'd like to see that kind of thing for real this time.
Bring back Lex. If Mr. Rosembaum doesn't want to shave his head just slap a Spacy/Hackmen like bad wig over his real hair and play it like that. I don't need Lex to be bald for the character to work. Smallville initially was as much about Lex's path to villainy as Clark's path to hero. I just think it'd be best for a proper finale if Lex returned.
I'd like to see another proto costume. We know he has the suit now but we can also pretty much be certain he will not actually wear it until the end. That is fine. I get that. Yet I think it's time to move away from the Neo "Whoa I know powers" Superman look and get back to the Red Blue Blur. The T-shirt and jacket could come back with maybe an S on the shirt but maybe they could do something even better by having him make a jacket similar to the Impulse/Arrow costumes for a time this season.
I'd like to see them bring on Diana Prince for an episode or two. I get that Bruce Wayne is a no no and Wonder Woman might be for the same reasons but with all these other DCU heroes showing up it'd be nice to get at least a meeting with one of the other "Big 3". She'd be the easiest one to do and having her return to Paradise Island after the adventure would be a perfectly acceptable reason why she doesn't stick around. Working in the return of Kara here would also give us a place for her to go for a time as well that would even fit with the comics a bit. It makes total sense. (With the success of Xena and relatively fond memories of the Linda Carter TV show can someone tell me why no one has given a WW TV show another go?)
I want to see Superman's reveal to the world prior to the final minutes of the series. I know he's already basically known as The Blur but I want to see the big moment where he is not only known but seen and recognized as Superman. I want to see the reaction. I just think that would be better than having the final moments be him flying off to that reveal if that makes any sense. Not that I wouldn't enjoy that I just hope we get a bit more than that.
In addition to the one above I would like Superman to be seen saving the world so everyone knows he is the one that saved the world. The "Blur" might be the prime suspect in stopping the Doomsday monster and the Black Tuesday computer virus but it's not really KNOWN that he was. I want to see Clark saving the world and have everyone know it.
Also I'd like to see the Blur start working with the Metropolis PD a bit more. We've seen Inspector Sawyer and Dan Tarpin already and you could even argue both of them might have a pretty good idea who the Blur is. Is it really a stretch that they would call in Clark's help on something? Plus I think that has always been something that set Superman apart from a lot of other Superheroes. I know most Superheroes are vigilantes in some regards and Superman is no exception, but one thing I've liked about his character is that he becomes more of an "official" protector of the city. Stories about the vigilante angle are valid and even good but Superman eventually grows beyond being a simple vigilante at least in most people's eyes. I want to see that here in a bigger way.
This might be a wild fanboy dream but I'd really like to see them move from TV to the Big Screen. We know DC and WB are looking at 2012 for a big screen Superman re-boot... I don't see any reason why they couldn't take this established cast and move them to the big screen for an adventure and be just as successful as they would have been with a totally new version. They do not need to use the entire Smallville cast and they could easily write a story about an established Superman married to or dating Lois that doesn't require any knowledge of Smallville. Basically a Superman movie starring Erica Durance and Tom Welling. Smallville has its faults but its biggest strength has always been the characters and the various actors doing them justice. The faults have been in the story telling and the plots, something we could hope would be avoided with a big screen writing staff and production involved. (Hopefully... this is Hollywood we are talking about). Wouldn't using a cast already in place save millions on casting and guarantee at least a moderate fan base worth of ticket sales? Call me silly but after tossing over 200 million down on the last one you'd think they would be looking for a little bit of cost saving this time around.
Lastly what I want to see. The final shot of the series. Tom Welling's Superman flying above the clouds winking at the camera before everything fades to black. That would be the perfect final shot of the series.
By some people's count that's four too many. I'm not one of those, but I do wish the train wrecks that were seasons 5 through 7 never happened. Thinking back on Krypto-vampires, Luthor clones, Mother Lionel and Veritas kind of makes my brain boil.
Here's the thing though; for all the pure garbage we've had to sift through in the middle years of this show, the last two seasons worth of payoff has almost been worth it. And really, when I think back on the early years, yeah the quality of the writing was better, but the moments of pure fanboy gratification that have abounded in seasons 8 and 9? Those were very few and far between; usually relegated to the very front or very back ends of a season. Ever since Gough and Millar left the scene of their many, many crimes, it's felt like there's been a complete tonal shift for this series; there's now a genuine acknowledgement that this is a show about Superman and not just some guy who goes by the name Clark Kent and acts like a composite of Pacey Witter and dancing Emo Peter Parker. Does it still have its moments of sheer horrific stupidity? Absolutely. But we're so close sometimes to getting a truly fantastic show that you almost want to gloss over the drek so you can appreciate the fact that there's a dude with an S shield on TV once a week.
Some of you may have noticed that I'm justifying a bit when my usual shtick is forgiving nothing and shaking my fist of impotent fury at writers who either don't know or don't care that they're playing in a sandbox that deserves so much more than what they usually play at. That's because this I'm writing as a fan, not a critic.
Writing a wish list is completely different than writing a review. Wishing is about pouring your heart out and telling the world your innermost secret fantasies. It's talking about the things that make your soul sing and the hopes that keep you watching on a Friday night when the lure of the box office is at its strongest.
There will be things on this list that you'll agree with, things that you'll want to throw stones at me for suggesting and things that venture into the realm of what we know to be impossible but I'm going to hope for them anyway.
Without further adieu, here is my list of fondest hopes, dreams and desires for the final season of Smallville.
I'll start with story because clearly that's where the writers start every season.
The Coming Apocalypse
Season 9 left a few threads dangling. I've mentioned on more than one occasion that I felt the Checkmate storyline was shoehorned into place and poorly served by a rushed and shoddy B plot feel. Let's fix that, shall we? Amanda Waller is apparently dead after being barbecued by Zod; this is one of the few times that I'm rooting for a truly whopping Deus Ex Machina. We didn't see her actually bite it; I'd like to see some sort of last second dodge or evasion that allowed her to live. Waller is too rich a character and has too much potential insight into the world Clark is starting to inhabit to have her buried just yet. Checkmate itself poses some interesting story possibilities; we still don't know who Martian Manhunter was working for when he infiltrated their castle (though my money's on Ma Red Queen) Maxwell Lord was one of the more interesting "villains" to be introduced over the show's history and as a very real human threat to Clark, Checkmate is far too rich a playground to construct and then abandon in half a season.
I do not, under any circumstances, actually want to see Darkseid. Yes, I know that it's likely too late to throw the brakes on that one; we've already seen (probably) Granny Goodness, para-demons and a boom tube and the heavy handed Apocalypse references ran like rancid honey for the back half of the season, but still. I'd way rather have a season that introduces the concepts of the New Gods and the greater DCU through characters like Barda, Scott Free and Orion, than actually see Darkseid in the flesh, and I definitely don't want a Smallville version of Final Crisis; no Turpinseid for this Supes fan please. (And really, could we expect anything else from the show that gave us Davis Bloome?)
Think more along the lines of Fantastic Four 2. You're never actually shown Galactus because he would have looked ridiculous if rendered faithfully on the big screen, but you get a completely passable Silver Surfer instead, and the business end of Galactus' planet eating apparatus as a money shot. I could handle something like that without being disappointed in any way.
All that being said though, my gut instinct if I were writing this final season would be to do a rough adaptation of Birthright. They've already cleared the board of most of the original Smallville characters; I'd love to see a season of Smallville: Kung Fu, with Clark wandering the earth, figuring out how he's going to come out of the shadows and spreading the legend of Super...ahem, the Blur outside the borders of Metropolis. Sadly, they've already given the international correspondent job to Lois, so that idea is probably moot, but it would be a fantastic wind down to the show and could result in some truly amazing character writing as opposed to the usual massive crisis aversion disguised as character development.
Chloe needs to die. She's only got a few episodes this season, she's not part of the canon and Watchtower is too easy a fill-in for actual problem solving on the part of any of the characters. Killing off Chloe, at this point, would be the best thing you could do for her character and the show as a whole; you'd have both Clark and Ollie motivated on a deeply personal level and you'd have the kind of moment that is all too rare on this show, a genuine lasting consequence. Nothing personal Chloe, you're just more useful as an impetus to action than as a living breathing voice for the recap writer.
Ditto for Tess. Tess Mercer has been, flat out, the least consistent character ever introduced on this show. Yes, even more than Lana. Even though the tease at Granny Goodness was very cool, I cringed watching the finale because I knew that it meant Tess would be back. We don't need her. She was mildly interesting when there was the foggiest chance that Rosenbaum would be back as Lex; he's not coming back, therefore she has no meaningful context. Vote no on Mercer-Demon. I shudder to think about the possible avenues and quasi-angelic parallels the Smallville writing staff could dredge up around a quest for a Tess/Parademon seeking absolution.
I loved seeing Martha back on the show; I hated what they did to her character. I have no objection to having her onscreen a bit more, and really she should be; the show started with her raising Clark, it would be fitting to have her finish the job as we send him off. But please, let her just be Martha. Not every character needs to be souped up and she's iconic in her own right; I don't want or need major additions to make her more important or relevant. Martha Kent provides the moral compass for the man who becomes Superman. Isn't that a powerful enough role for one person?
Yes please. I'd love to see Perry White take the reins at the Daily Planet and actually mentor Clark and Lois into becoming the journalists that they currently have no training to be. No reservations, drench him in clichés and one liners from all previous incarnations; this is a character whose time has come to shine. A minimum of five minutes of screen time per week would be nice.
Sigh. Welling has said that he'd like to see her back on the show at least once and, since he's a co-co-co-co-co-co-producer on the show these days, it's possible he may get his wish. I understand the impulse; having just watched the finale of Lost I get the need to close off as many character arcs as possible and she was a major character; just please let it be a return where she's been deloused of her kryptonite armor and is unhappily married to Pete. I cannot handle even a minute of Clark/Lois/Lana triangling. I fear my lungs would actually seize up and suffocate me to death if exposed to that kind of soap opera nonsense for more than a few seconds.
I'd like to see Ollie make his way to Star City this year. We don't know what happened to him in those ducts and it's probably something meta that's tied into the greater arc of next season, but I really feel that giving him a reason to leave Metropolis and get out from under Clark's shadow would be a very good thing. GA has been a sometimes hammy, often well done addition to the show, but he's also provided a too easy distraction for the writers. In the same way that Watchtower is a quick fix to many an issue, having a billionaire playboy who also happens to be a superhero and who also happens to be buddies with Clark eliminates a lot of problems that Clark would encounter devoid of that support system. At this stage in his development he shouldn't have that support; he should be struggling more despite his powers, so Ollie has to go.
Besides, I want Hartley freed up to write some more episodes.
If she's gone, let her be gone. If she's still in Metropolis for the bulk of the season, let's stop playing the cat and mouse game with the Chlois relationship. I maintain she's figured out that Clark is the Blur; she knows she's in love with him and that he's in love with her and we're all very excited about that; can we please have a season completely devoid of relationship drama? I'd way rather see them focus on turning Lois into the character we saw in the first five minutes of the finale than play anymore of the, "guess what Lois is going to be half wearing this week" game. Durance is wicked hot, but we only have 22 hours to do some real development with these characters; in my perfect world her arc would revolve around the development of her own career and power base, leading up to her writing the first exclusive article naming Superman.
JLA, JSA, the Legion and the Fourth World etc.:
For the League and the Society I have two words: use sparingly. It's going to be tempting to throw everything into the mix as often as possible this season, but I'd really rather have it toned down a few steps to focus on the completion of Clark's journey. That being said, I would love a couple of epic team up episodes but only if the threat warrants it and the budget can support it. The "Clark rallying the troops" moment in the finale was cool and all, but I was really hoping for more than just talking heads. As for the Legion and possible Fourth World Characters, I'd love to see a solid mix of the two this year. I think the Legion could be used as a conduit to greater information about Darkseid and possible future consequences of an Apocalypse based invasion of Earth, and I think that Clark encountering those advance forces would make an excellent backdrop and motivation for his assumption of the mantle he's been working towards. Again, as mentioned above, I'd rather have Darkseid hinted at than actually shown, but Scott Free, Orion and several others could be introduced competently and be used to give Smallville a more cosmic scope than we've seen in the past.
Also, please bring back BAG as Metallo a couple more times. He's easily my favourite part of season 9 and on the very short list of characters I've loved on this show. The usual complaint about Clark meeting him too early still applies, but he was so phenomenal that I forgave that instantly.
And he really should be Superman this season. We were finally given, in the last seconds of the finale, a proactive, sacrificial, and truly heroic Clark Kent. I know we're probably going to get a very convenient save to solve the problem of gravity affecting our hero in those final moments (I'm thinking a last second rescue by J'onn) but I don't care; the worth of that act was in its intent and execution, not in its end result. I think Clark is finally ready to step out of the shadows and function as a real superhero. What I'd really like to see (beyond the obvious flying, suit, glasses references that everyone wants to see) is Clark starting to act both proactively and morally. We've seen a lot of flip flopping with respect to Clark's behaviour; I think (I hope) we should be past that now. Clark knows that there are bigger forces at play on Earth and in the universe at large; I'd like to have a final season where Clark seeks those forces out before they become major threats, rather than reacting after the fact. Certainly Martha apparently has some insight into the bigger picture threatening her son and the planet; it's not much of a logicical leap to assume she would share that information so he could be proactively defensive this time around.
I have high hopes for where this show could end and I know that I could wind up wildly let down, but here's what I really think. I think that the problems present in the last couple of seasons have (aside from the usual lazy writing complaints) mostly been due to hanging elements from past seasons. Anytime this new creative team has tried to add something truly original and new, it has almost always worked. (Exceptions being of course things like the twin tower scene and the Book of Rao). Now that most of the characters and plot lines of earlier seasons have been swept aside there should be room to tell some truly fantastic Superman stories without being beholden to the things that have come before.
Will I be disappointed if I don't see Clark fly or wear the suit until the end of the season? Maybe a little. But we were always told that those were completely off the table. What will make me happy is if the end result of this season and this show is that the Clark Kent we've grown up with for ten years finally puts all the pieces together and becomes the Man of Steel we know he can be.
What do you all want to see this year?